Homeward bound – the push and pull of ‘the new’ over ‘the familiar’

Backpack flying home
Can’t wait to be carrying my trusty old backpack round again!

The lead-up to any holiday is exciting, the lead-up to a trip home when you live overseas is something else entirely.

On one hand, you’re super excited to be heading back into familiar territory, to have the chance to talk properly to people who have known you your whole life and understand your subtle nuances … and just the opportunity, to put it simply… to feel less isolated.

On the other hand, you’re just going home. You’ve been there before – many times. You grew up there. It can hardly be called a holiday, right?

In preparation for our recent trip back to Oz for my brother’s wedding, we decided to combine the best of both worlds… a holiday that also included 9 days in Sri Lanka. This ‘stopover’ began simply as a few days relaxing on the beach, and morphed into a 6 day tour with beach days in addition. During the organisation stage, I endured a period of indecisiveness where I was choosing between an extra day on safari in Sri Lanka, or arriving in Melbourne a day earlier. Eventually I opted for the safari, my reasoning being that with almost 2 weeks already set aside for catch-ups at home, an extra day in a foreign country was much more worthwhile.

The problem I’ve discovered since, is that the lead-up to a trip home brings up a whole lot of inner turmoil you never see coming. It’s kind of like when you’re 2 weeks out from leaving a job you hate. Even though you’ve suffered through 3 years with only a vague overall irritation, the last two weeks are so infinitely horrible that it suddenly takes all your strength not to snap constantly at stupid people and storm out without your benefits!

So after I scheduled catch-ups with friends, bought a new dress for my bro’s wedding and sent a list of must-have foods for my mum to purchase, I was so overexcited at the prospect of soon being home, that I began to feel uncharacteristically aggravated by all the things in my life that usually only provided vague feelings of annoyance: neighbours arguing through the walls of our small apartment forced me to take long walks in the cold; a misunderstood German conversation had me close to tears in the bathroom and an incorrectly purchased grocery item made me storm to my room in a huff.

Suddenly I wanted to be home so badly that I could hardly bear to be in Austria one more day. And then I was furious with myself having opted for the safari over the chance of a quiet day with my parents and dog.

Still, despite this change of heart, I realised quickly that this is just one of those weird ‘homesickness-type’ reactions simply born from being almost home, but not quite. In reality, although an extra day would be nice, it’s not essential for the general well-being of myself or the overall trip – I’ve balanced it pretty well between family, friends and relaxing.

Sadly it does mean that I will inadvertently miss my mum’s birthday by just one day (sorry mum), though to be fair, at least that means she won’t have to get up at 5am that day to drive to the airport!

So in the end I’m not sure what I’m more excited about – finally witnessing the foreign landscape of Sri Lanka, or relaxing in the safety of my Australian comfort zone. But one thing’s for sure, I’m going to enjoy both parts to the fullest of my ability, and I’m not going to think about the bout of home-sickness awaiting me upon my return… because I know it it will pass. Because ultimately I am happy here in Austria.

 

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