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?