Eight years. . . That is how long ago I left the shores of sunny South Africa for frigid Montreal (I had a few detours along the way). I am self-sufficient, independent, and uncomfortable in my comfort zone. I have always been a restless spirit and enjoyed spending my time seeking new experiences. Ever since childhood, I have been that way. But, every couple of years or so this feeling creeps up and snatches my heart and screams, AFRICA!
Some call it homesickness — seeking feelings and qualities associated with your home country. For me, it is not about South Africa, but Africa! After all these years, I have learned a thing or two about thwarting homesickness: create new friends/family (check), new traditions (check), learn a new language (oui, Je parle Français maintenant), and keep busy ( Yep, Ph.D. got that covered). But, as clichéd as it may sound- there is no place like Africa. The people, the cultures, the colours, the immense diversity in landscapes and wildlife, and of course the amazing beaches. It is an indescribable feeling. Africa is my home, yes, but Africa is me too!
Whenever I get an opportunity to come home I become overwhelmed with excitement and joy. Every time, I am flooded with anticipation – who am I am going to see? Where will I go? How long will I stay? In previous years, whenever I came home I would plan elaborate road trips with my friends and family to catch up. This time, I am more than excited to not only to see my friends and family but to engage with amazing researchers. My mental preparation includes: deciding which researchers to visit (and there are plenty to choose from), putting my finger on the pulse to understand the discourse of science research in South Africa, and deciding which beaches to visit. For you see dear reader, Africa has awoken and what greater honour is there than seeding back into the continent that made me! I am constantly inspired to hear and read of the great efforts/achievements made by fellow researchers in Africa AND the diaspora envies it all! When historians write about THAT time Africa become a leader in scientific research- they will be talking about THIS moment!
I often wonder if other people ever feel the same way about their countries/cities or even continents. How do you cope with homesickness? Are there any tips to share?