[31 Days] Day 28 Expect

It’s Day 28 of the 31 Days in the Life of a TCK series! Welcome! You can find more info on the series here. Don’t forget to subscribe!

I came home from a year in South Africa being in love with the country and its people. The goodbye was incredibly hard and the re-entry to Germany was, too. 
I settled back into life, began university, started making new friends. 
But this deep longing and feeling of homesickness were my constant companion.

A few months later I had my debrief with the mission agency and they told me that for various reasons I would have the chance to go back for a short time. What a game changer! The summer semester couldn’t go by faster as my eyes and heart were set on July 29th, departure for my second home South Africa. 

A week before I left I had dinner with a few friends; we sat outside in the summer night and talked about my trip. And then one friend asked: 

What do you expect of this trip? 

This question stuck with me during my trip, which turned out to be different than I expected. 
Did I go back to cure my homesickness? 
Did I expect I would go back and everything would be alright again? 
Did I expect time would have stopped and I could just continue where I had left things? 

It was a bit of a homecoming. 
Flying into Johannesburg and driving to the farm from the airport felt so familiar. 
I recognized houses, towns, shops. 
Seeing “my” town again made my heart leap. 
And holding dear friends in my arms again felt a bit like healing. 
So yes, a bit of my homesickness was stilled, at least for two months. 

It was also a bit like a revelation. 
A shattering of expectations. 
The bubble of nostalgic idealization burst and I was left with reality. 
Things had changed, people had left and the perfect community we had had a year before did no longer exist. 
The people had made the experience so unique, and without them I couldn’t just simply replicate it. 
Things that had bothered me in the first year were still there, and I wondered how I could’ve idealized them, too. 

So no, my expectations were shattered. But in a positive way. 
When I returned to Germany the second time I knew a little bit better how to handle my homesickness. 
I still missed friends and certain things deeply, and they will always be close to my heart. However, I don’t give in to nostalgic longing for things anymore that are more of a burden than a blessing. 
My expectations were refined. 

For those of you who returned “home”, what were your expectations and experiences? 

Author: Katha von Dessien

Teacher. Believer in the Wilderness. Third Culture Kid. World Traveler. People and Food at the Table Lover. Writer.

8 thoughts on “[31 Days] Day 28 Expect”

  1. Need to go back and read your series in its entirety, but I can relate! Having traveled to so many places and returned, the dynamic can be so different when you're with new people or after a period of time has passed.

  2. O yes, that feeling of someone “taking your place” is really strange and so familiar…hope you find a new job with great people around you! Thanks for visiting!

  3. Have you ever head Ginny Owens' song, “Painting Pictures in Egypt”? So often we long nostalgically for the past–and almost miss the blessings of the present. I, too fall in to that trap.

  4. What a powerful experience it was for you to go back to South Africa and revisit the place you left part of your heart. It seems the only constant in life is change. Once my family almost moved back to my hometown, but we knew it was not the same place we left years before. Memory and reality are often different, aren't they? Wishing you wonderful new adventures ahead.

  5. I haven't had an experience quite like yours. The closest thing would be returning to my former workplace. I'd left to be a stay-at-home mom, and I went back to visit friends. It felt odd that the same people weren't there. I also stayed in touch with a friend who worked there. Occasionally she'd mention someone, then say, “Oh, yeah, I guess you don't know her.” One of the people she mentioned was the one who'd taken my job after I left. So strange to hear that my former supervisor was working with someone else–not that I should have expected anything other than that.

    Thanks for sharing your story! I'm stopping by from Kate's place.

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