Tag Archives: Familiarity

Feels Like Home

10 Feb

Irish Parliament, nearly identical to US White House

When traveling, it feels kind of amazing when you stumble across a little bit of home clear across an ocean.  

Maybe it’s a person. A Toronto native bumps into a San Franciscan in China, and suddenly they’re next door neighbors separated since birth.  Immediately it’s all, “oh have you ever been to Chicago, why yes I went when I was 2–oh my gosh, I was there when I was five, how’d you like it?!?”  

Familiar brands can also catch your eye, a McDonald’s, Marriott Hotel,  or Motorola. Even when you never actually bought them back home, they seem a little comforting.   Personally, I never buy from Cold Stone Creamery.  My mother’s parents used to own an ice cream store, and we’ve all eaten our fill of the heavy cream desserts.  Too much, and it gets a little sickening. So instead, whenever we eat Ice Cream we make our own.  But I used to hang with a group of friend who liked to stop there. So on a hot day alone in Korea, Cold Stone Creamery seems awfully comforting. Purely because at that very moment, someone I know might be doing the same thing.

It’s the felling of connection that matters. Homesickness isn’t a craving for home, it’s a craving for the connectedness of home. Despite what many non-travelers think, we usually aren’t really wishing we were at home instead.  We don’t want to abandon our trips abroad or regret taking off on an adventure.  Really, it isn’t home we’re looking for at all, it’s just that sense that you are bonded to the world around you that gets lost sometimes. The feeling that you matter, that you are part of the events around you instead of just a stranger wandering through. That feeling that, if needed, home and friends are just around the corner.  You don’t want to go back to home, it’s just that home needs to be brought to you. Usually, what we really need is a sign that home can still be found right were we are.

For me, this summer that connection was a little flyer I picked up in Japan.  I’d been there nearly 3 weeks and I was starting to miss home and family a bit.  On my way back from school, I ran across an ad for the theatrical version of Kuroshitsuji in a Gas Station.

Kuroshitsuji

You may not recognize the name, but Kuroshitsuji was an anime my best friends and I used to watch in college.  Whenever college or finals or life got to be too much, the four of us would all get together and watch whatever episodes were out. If nothing new was up, we’d watch re-runs. It got us through deaths, failed classes, broken hearts, lost jobs, family fights, and 21-credit semesters. It’s actually a surprisingly angsty show, which allowed us to get all teary-eyed and dramatic without looking like idiots in real life. But it also had characters like the insane, safety-scissor waving, cross-dressing death god who we all adored.  I actually watched a lot of anime in college, but I never met anyone in Japan who recognized my shows or saw anything talking about them.  So to find this little ad for Kuroshitsuji meant a lot to me. Admittedly, it was Japanese in nature, but to me it connected Japan to home.  I ran to the hotel and messaged my friends all about it, and for a little bit I got to squeal with them about something we all recognized.  I felt reunited, just enough to remind me that home wasn’t really that far away.  In fact, I could still find some parts of it as far away as I was.

So for those of you who are travelling abroad, and are reaching that point where you just need a home-sized hug, look around you. Maybe you aren’t looking for something in the U.S. (or whatever nation you’re from); maybe you just need to find something familiar.  Think back to what made you fall in love with the idea of visiting this country? Don’t focus on what you don’t have. Focus on the one think in your life that lives in both locations. You will always be able to find something that looks at you and screams: “You Know Me!” It’s the familiarity that matters.

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