Loneliness and Me, Myself, & I

Clare Hogan
October 17, 2021

Bonjour people, I’m back. And if it isn’t obvious by the number of blogs I’ve posted, I’ve been quite busy. Between my courses, my homework, weekend trips to surrounding cities, spending time with my host family, enjoying Nantes with my friends, contacting family and friends at home, and giving myself alone time to recharge, I’ve been a bit swamped (in the very best way).

Recently, I’ve noticed a lot of people in my program having mentioned feeling homesick. It made me think about my own thoughts about home and being homesick. If I’m being brutally honest, I haven’t really been homesick at all (knock on wood). In fact, when the other students mentioned it, it was pretty much the first time I had even thought about homesickness at all. I tried to determine why that is, since I love my family and my friends so much back in the States, and I think about them every day. I miss them and miss their words, reactions, jokes, and more. But… I haven’t found myself wishing I was there instead of here.

Now, I can only speak for myself when I say this, but I think that that may be because of a few reasons. First of all, I think it has to do with the strength of my relationships at home in the first place. I have full confidence in their support of me being here, and in what I know will be their welcoming attitude when I return. Second, I’ve been extremely lucky to have found the friends and host family I have here. They make it so easy to feel like I have a support system to lean back on and people to turn to when I need help or a listening ear.

However, tough things do happen when you’re abroad. As much as I think everyone wishes it would, life doesn’t stop while you’re over here. For me, a lot of that comes in the form of university-related things, like graduate school applications (since I’m a senior), missing all the lasts at my university (since I’m a senior), missing important life events of my friends (because they, too, are seniors), and having to figure out what I’m going to do after graduation (because did I mention I’m a senior?). Yes, traveling abroad my senior year is wonderful, and I wouldn’t change my decision to come here for the world, but it can be arduous sometimes trying to balance my life here with my life at home.

But even more, the tough things that happen while you’re abroad aren’t always school-related. I’ve seen a few people in the program here with me have some difficult things occur at home already, and I can see the toll it takes on all of them. Sometimes it’s losing a loved one or having to let go of a beloved pet and not getting to say goodbye. Sometimes it’s the anxiety you feel when you can’t be there for friends or family who are really struggling with health issues. Sometimes it’s seeing all of your friends together and knowing that you’re missing out on precious time with them that you won’t get back. Sometimes it’s knowing that your friend from home is crying and upset, and you can’t completely be there for them. And sometimes it’s you that’s crying and upset, with seemingly no one there to comfort you.

I know this last one from experience. Before I came on this trip, maybe about four weeks before, I lost a cousin—a close one. Dealing with that was hard even at home but dealing with it here can sometimes bring forth a loneliness that’s hard to comprehend. On top of that, my great aunt passed away two weeks ago as well. Those things alone are never easy but add in that I’m thousands of miles from home and my family, that no one here knows them, and that I’m too busy to really give myself any time to sit and grieve, it can be overwhelming.

But even with all of that…I’m happy that I’m here, and I haven’t spent a single second regretting it. It’s difficult, yes, when things like this happen and you aren’t home, but it’s not the end of the world. When I allow myself to put it into perspective, what better place is there to grieve and process and heal than somewhere completely new and exciting and fresh?

No, I’m not able to be with my family, and yes, there’s nothing that soothes a hurt soul quite like your long-time loved ones. But as much as my brain (and the miles and miles of distance) try to convince me otherwise, I’m never really alone here. I have friends here that I know would support me—people that ask how I’m doing and what’s on my mind. My family and friends from home are only a phone call or a text or a FaceTime away. I have music and walks and runs in pretty parks and cafés that bring me comfort. There’s “family” dinners and karaoke nights and trips to beautiful towns. I take train rides through the countryside and stroll through new cities every weekend. I talk to my friends for hours and I meet new people every single day. I have so many things here that are life-giving that it’s almost impossible to get lost in the bad.

It’s completely fair to be afraid of what studying abroad will look like if something bad were to happen at home, because truthfully it can be one of the most difficult things. But I have gained so much here that I can confidently say that, at least for me, the good outweighs the bad by a mile, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

Clare Hogan

<p>Hey! My name is Clare Hogan and I'm a senior at Wofford College. I'm majoring in Psychology and French, with a minor in English. I hope to become a counseling psychologist one day, which is why I majored in Psychology. At school, I'm in a sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta, and I love to participate in various events with that, such as dances, philanthropy events, and more! I adore reading and writing (hence the minor), hiking, playing tennis, and all things relating to dogs. Also, a fun fact about me is that I sneeze every time I eat chocolate (which is quite often)!</p>

Home university:
Wofford College
Hometown:
Greenville, SC
Major:
French Language
Psychology
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