Pretty early on in Ecuador I wasn’t having the greatest time. Being in training day after day had my brain in a melt, one that cleared up immediately once I began actually teaching. Both work and social life were great. Then, five months later, I hit another slump. My phone was stolen and the financial issues in the government were so poor that as a public worker I hadn’t been paid in months. I could feel a ‘Hitting Homesickness’ piece brewing, but it wasn’t ready yet. Now I feel like it is, as I have emerged from my homesickness and can share the methods I used to recover. After nearly 3 weeks of dreaming of what it would be like to be back in NYC I’m happy to say that I’ve been in much better spirits, and here’s how:
- Visitors. A best friend, one that I’ve known since elementary school, came to visit me in Ecuador! When someone asked me what was the best part of her visiting I simply replied ‘feeling like I had a piece of home.’ Bring home to you, and you can begin to treat homesickness.
- Awesome people. From the beginning I’ve been pleased with the social life I’ve cultivated in Ecuador. The people that I’ve met didn’t stop being awesome when I hit my slump. One co-worker gave me a phone since my old one was stolen. Another friend, who may not even know that their company was part of my homesickness recovery, fed me home-cooked food and then we spent just about an entire day lazying around Quito and their home.
- Finding the joy. As it became clearer and clearer to me that NYC was not an option for the near future I decided I was just going to have to find ways to enjoy the process of each day. I made it a goal to see things in Quito that I hadn’t yet seen after spending so much of my free-time traveling outside of Quito. Thus, each little thing became cool, became an experience, became a reason to be happy. I finally visited TelefériQo (a cable-car ride that drops you at 4,100 meters/13,000+ feet and then offers breathtaking views along an extensive hike), participated in my first chiva (think open-van-made-into-party-van that cruises around the city), saw the President of Ecuador without even planning to, and attended a traditional Ecuadorian procession held during holy week. It’s also important to note that ‘finding the joy’ doesn’t always have to be huge hallmark events, simply understanding bus routes better and finding news places to eat has been cool, too!
- Me-time. I already like to spend tons of time alone, so a vacation is a great time to do so. I read a book, studied Spanish, read/watched tons of news stories from around the world, and enjoyed going from one place to the next in Quito without feeling rushed.
- It’s OK. Then there was me being kinder to myself. Instead of keeping in how I felt, as I would normally do, I let it out. I told folks that I felt myself to be in a slump, and when they prompted my grievances with a ‘why’ I was forced to dig deeper into my emotions. As someone who usually introverts, I was pleasantly surprised to see how these interactions actually left me feeling better each time! While I could have done what I always do and mulled over everything on my own I learned a bit more about the value of being honest about my feelings with myself and others. Once I truly noticed them, I was able to let them go~