What is the Cure for Homesickness?

When we were saying our last goodbyes to our friends and family before leaving our American rat-race life to move to Costa Rica, you would have thought it was our funeral. People were crying as if it was the last time they'd ever hear from us. We may have even shed a tear or two.

It did little to ease the anguish to tell them "we're not dead, we're just moving out of the country." And it was hardly believed when we said that "we will definitely stay in touch and even visit a couple of times a year."

For us, we had the excitement of changing our lives and our location but, in their mind, they were losing a friend or loved one. But upon arriving in a foreign land with a different language and no network of support, we quickly realized how lonely it could be and homesickness set in.

Our days kept us pretty well preoccupied, but evenings gave us ample time to second guess our decision to leave what we had been accustomed to. It almost drove us to throw in the towel and return to the U.S. with our tale between our legs.

Then a few things happened to relieve our distress. First, we discovered Facebook, Skype and other cheap ways for making international phone calls. Next, we started making friends locally and learned to speak Spanish. These changes were just the medicine we needed to alleviate the pangs of homesickness.

The Internet provided the ability to save money to communicate with friends and family back home as much as we wanted to because it became so inexpensive. In fact, I'm not quite sure how people moved overseas prior to this cheap way to communicate. I imagine they must have self-medicated with more alcohol back then to ease the pain of missing who and what they love and are familiar with.

Yet, being able to speak to those we missed dearly was a double-edged sword.  It was great to catch up on the goings on back home, but it was always a bit painful to say goodbye knowing that we can't just get together and hang out with those old friends. It seems absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

And homesickness never really goes away completely. It's like pining for the first love that broke your heart, the ache is always present.  The true cure is getting back on the saddle so to speak and to make new friends and experiences, while still being able to communicate with old friends.

So when we began to socialize with locals and other expats, and generally became more familiar with our surroundings, homesickness became nothing more than a swift passing thought.  In fact, the people we met in Costa Rica became some of our best friends in the world and we would have never known they existed without this adventure.

Now that we have left Costa Rica to embark on our nomadic tour of the world, we miss those friends as well as the familiarity of Costa Rica, in addition to our hometown kin. Yet, because we've been through it once before and it proved to be a positive experience, there has been almost no pain this time around.

Of course the Internet is a savior in this regard. But the true key is appreciating the new experiences for all they are and keeping your heart open to meeting new people. Already on this recent journey we have met even more lifelong friends and we are so grateful for that.

In the end, this is what travel is all about; gaining new experiences and meeting new interesting people that will shape and enrich our lives in ways that a stationary life never could. The gratitude we feel for the gifts of travel far outweighs missing "home".

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