Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Missing Home

“The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” 
-Maya Angelou 

So this was bound to happen. I didn't know when it would hit, but it has. I miss home; my family, my boyfriend, my friends, my own space, my car; all of the things that allow me to decompress, find solitude, love, and support. The most difficult aspect of conducting research abroad is not the long work day or the monumental tasks that have to be accomplished, but the new environment that is void of those things, places, and people that make life worth living and those stressful moments easier to bear. The healing touch of your loved ones; your own bed, where your neck and back have always found comfort; your favorite sushi restaurant, where the specialty roll has an uncanny ability to melt away the most worrisome problem; or the "free your mind" drives accompanied by the soothing sounds of Marvin Gaye; oh how they would rejuvenate my spirit, strengthen my core, and prepare me for the next day. I miss them, no better yet, I long for them. South Africa has been an incredible experience. I have witnessed growth within myself that I could have never imagined. But it has been tough. Conducting research abroad is truly a test of one's character, patience, flexibility, and adaptability. It requires one to find new comforts, news ways to cleanse the spirit, alternatives for augmenting the mind, and your own space (extra time in the shower) to refresh and gear up for the next challenge.

You walk away from an experience such as this with a newfound respect and appreciation for those things, people, and places that you typically take for granted. To be able to get into my car and go, without the hassle of a taxi or engage in a conversation with my mother without having to repeat myself 10 times over a fragmented Skype phone call, these are the small things that I would normally categorize as minor, but here, within this context, have graduated to major luxuries. It pains me to say it, but I have had envious moments here, where I have watched our UKZN partners leave our van to travel to their respective families, spaces, and friends, and wished that I could do the same. But soon enough. Two more weeks and I will be with those I love again.

For now, I must focus on the task at hand: learning, growing, and enhancing the lives of those I meet (i.e. Brettonwood students, Kenneth Gardens community members, UZKN friends). I know this feeling is particularly strong today, and I will probably feel an incredible emptiness when I depart, but at this moment, while sitting at this computer, typing, I am missing home. 


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