No one told you about the loneliness. Not the happy, look at the Eiffel Tower loneliness… the sitting on the couch in your tiny studio apartment when you realize you haven’t spoken your native language in days loneliness. The loneliness of realizing that when you speak English, you start mixing all of the languages, and you begin to feel like you do not speak any one of them correctly. The loneliness of wanting to do things you used to do all the time – especially at this time of year. Pumpkin patches and hay rides, pumpkin carving and drinking apple cider. No one told you about how things back home change. How your best friends move on, move houses, break up, hook up… How your sister is no longer 15 but actually now 18 and will be going to the ballots to vote. Another important event in her life you will miss.
When I mention in light these feelings to friends back home, the reaction is always, “but look at what you are doing and look at where you live“. In truth, sometimes I do feel like I am complaining just to complain. I have found a stable group of friends here who are supportive and caring, and my boyfriend…. Well where do I even begin with him and everything he has done for me? But no matter how much people will tell me these things, they will never truly understand what it is missing your home country. They will never understand the longing to drive a car and race through country roads, the weird craving for American junk food… They will never understand the out of body experiences, living outside of your skin moments.
But I love France. That is true. I love that I speak French now. I love the people that I am meeting and the experiences I am living. Every time I mention to a stranger that I am doing my studies in France, they ask through what program. When they realize I am doing it all on my own and not as an exchange student, people get surprised. You cannot deny the feelings of accomplishment as an expat.
But the reality of missing your country… It will happen. It will hurt, but in the end, it is worth it.