It’s hard for me to believe that it’s been nearly two years since I went abroad on my TEFL internship to Venezuela. I lived there from February until April of 2016 and even though it was a short time and I haven’t been back since, I still consider Merida, Venezuela my second home.
Lately I’ve been feeling this odd sense of homesickness for Merida, and thinking back on a lot of the memories and feelings I experienced while I was there. I remember a few times while abroad where I allowed myself to fall back into an at-home habit of just staying in and doing nothing when I could have made more memories in the city.
My only regret from this period of time was that I started to take it for granted and get too comfortable. It wasn’t until I left the country that it really sunk in for me that my time and every experience I had there was temporary.
There are so many reasons to move abroad temporarily: Working holiday visas, TEFL contracts, and bases for bloggers, and more. If you’re here because you’re getting ready to move abroad and you know that it’ll be temporary, my one piece of advice is to always keep in the back of your mind that you won’t be there forever.
When you land at the airport and your excitement turns into fear at the realization that you are now in a foreign, faraway city, where you know absolutely nobody, this is the one thing that you should remember:
It’s only temporary.
This mantra will help you push past the initial culture shock and loneliness and make it a bit easier to deal with the homesickness.
But hopefully it will also help you to remember to appreciate every moment of your situation and make the most of every experience you are possibly able to have here.
Because once you get over the culture shock and the unfamiliarity, new things in this new place will become familiar.
You will make friends and form bonds that may seem closer and stronger than any that you made at home.
You will get the hang of navigating your way around the streets of this now strange city, and even figure out the public transportation system in a language you aren’t fluent in.
Your group of friends will have its regular hangout spots. You will form a new routine. You will get used to the weather.
But it’s only temporary.
You will feel homesickness for this once strange place even years after you’ve left it. Your fond memories of your day-to-day routines and friends and favourite restaurants will play over and over again, vividly in your head. You will toy with the idea of someday returning to this place but know deep down that you never will, because it won’t be exactly the same as it was when you left.
Because it was only temporary.
My hope is that you learn to believe in yourself enough to work through the anxiety and the homesickness and the foreignness and work to enjoy and appreciate every moment and experience this adventure brings. I hope you head to this strange country ready to live your best life and truly realize how lucky you are to be in this place, with a blank slate and endless possibilities ahead of you.