It has been quite some time since I last posted some of my musings on my life over here in Europe. Here’s the truth: I don’t really want to write. I’ve been in Europe for about six weeks, and here’s another truth: I’m depressed. I’m depressed and missing home. I don’t feel like writing. I have no motivation, and I honestly feel extremely uninspired. So, instead of continuing to tell all of you about the rest of my time while I was traveling, I am going to first talk about how I’m actually feeling, instead of sugar coating it, pretending that I’m living this amazing life.
Living in Europe is so far, for sure, and will most likely continue to be an amazing opportunity, but boy am I crazy homesick and really hating being here, so far away from everyone I love.
It hit me really hard, the homesickness and the culture shock, when I realized that I was missing the month of October back home. Yes, I did not actually miss the month of October. It’s just that the month of October at home, in Indiana, where there are pumpkin pie, corn mazes, apple cider, Halloween, caramel apples, hay rides, bon fires, and s’mores, is the furthest thing from October here in France. They sort of celebrate Halloween, sort of, but not really. It’s more just a party that you go to drink excessively and wear something scary. It’s not an entire extravaganza like it is at home. There aren’t harvest season activities here like there are at home. I didn’t get to carve pumpkins with my family and then bake the seeds with my mother. I didn’t get to put thought into my Halloween costume for this year because I didn’t have one and then go and excitedly buy all of the things for it. I have yet to get lost in a corn maze, and this year, I won’t get that chance at all.
Now, you are probably thinking that I am being ridiculous, but missing all of these little things made me realize how important family and cultural traditions are to me. Before, I always thought that I didn’t really feel much like an American. I thought that I could definitely live in Europe, and even though I would definitely be homesick, I could adjust, feeling that most of my person is better suited to the lifestyle here in France. However, missing these things made me realize that I am more culturally American than I initially realized, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Being culturally a part of the country that I call my home is actually quite a good thing. However, that in and of itself made me realize something else in addition to my ache to want to devour an entire pumpkin pie by myself: I don’t feel at home at home in the States, always aching for the European lifestyle that I feel my being is much more suited to, but I don’t feel like I belong here in France, realizing that I long for traditions that don’t exist here and family that isn’t here. I feel I want to be an American here in Europe, and I feel I want to be European in the States. So, basically, I’ve come to comprehend that I don’t belong anywhere. I really, at this point in my expatriation, don’t have a home. I’m just floating around, trying to make sense of this life.
It doesn’t help either that I’ve discovered that I have no idea what I’m doing, and I feel extremely lonely. Yes, I have friends, wonderful friends that I’m so thankful to have met, but I still feel that ache of emptiness. Not feeling like I belong has left me feeling empty and homeless, feeling alone despite the fact that I’m not alone at all.
I’m also extremely frustrated because I still feel like I have no idea what I’m doing with my students. There are always miscommunications between the teachers and myself. Most of the time it’s definitely my fault because I misunderstood something. I don’t feel like my students respect or even understand me when I speak. The deer in the headlights look is one I get often. So, I go home from work most days feeling like a complete failure.
I also have yet to find a church to check out and call my temporary home while I’m here in France. Reading the Bible by yourself is great, and it definitely builds individual faith. However, I do need a community where I feel my faith is understood and where my faith can be challenged while I’m here in France.
I’m extremely frustrated, depressed, and lonely, and I absolutely hate it. This is also why I haven’t written anything for quite some time.
I don’t want to lie and to pretend that my European adventures are all glorious because they definitely are not. I’ve said this before, but I must reiterate. I still must live my life. I’m not constantly just on an adventure. With that comes the normal every day struggles, but these are increased by the fact that I’m in a different culture speaking a different language. I can’t help but to want to cry on the occasion. In fact, I’ve definitely cried at least three times this week. This is why I have not written lately, because I have currently lost interest and because I did not want to lie or sugarcoat anything either.
My hope is that these feelings are temporary, that I’ll find a great church to become a part of, that I’ll find my footing in my job, and that I’ll continue building and creating friendships. I no longer want to be homeless but build a home within myself. That is my ultimate hope. So, here’s to achieving that and hoping that I’ll find that smile within myself again soon.
Perhaps I’ll finish telling my adventure stories later, but until then….à plus mes amis.