Homesick Psychology in Hoi An, Vietnam
I'm always asked what it's like living in a foreign country. I love the newness and excitement of it all. but sometimes I get really homesick. Living and working in Vietnam has been the hardest thing I have ever consistently done.
I just got off the phone with my mom. She’s always asking if I’m taking care of myself. I tried to explain to her what I’ve been feeling lately. It went something like this...
We went to the market yesterday and I was blankly staring at a shelf of unfamiliar food products. I stared for a really long time. I’m surprised Patrick didn’t ask what I was doing. I couldn’t remember what I liked to eat. What kind of groceries did I used to buy, take home, and prepare? I had no idea.
We’ve only been here for three weeks and it’s hard to remember what my old life was like. I think it’s a defense mechanism your mind sets up to protect you. When you’re in a place that’s so foreign, your psychological self plays tricks on you. It’s not necessarily a bad thing but it’s no vacation either.
I think it's important to explain that there are no Western restaurants where we live in Vietnam. Macdonald's is in almost every country but it is not here. If it were, I'd likely eat there all the time just for the familiarity. The markets here in Hoi An are open air wet markets. Produce is laid out on tables and blankets and meat comes whole; or in other words, it comes in its live form for you to take home and butcher yourself.
We have found a few familiar food items. Fortunately Oreos is one of them! Cookies and milk have been my go to comfort snack for years now. Each night in my new home, for like a month straight, I'll pour my small glass of cold milk and sit down to enjoy my Oreos. No matter what country you are in, you can always find cookies and milk. Today I am thankful for small comforts and an air-conditioned gym.