Living abroad or living in a different place than where you grew up can be extremely rewarding. You get to learn about different cultures, tastes unique foods, have new experiences, make new friends and a lot more. But living away from your hometown can also be quite challenging, especially during a pandemic. Many of us haven’t seen our family for a long time.
We may be afraid of contracting COVID. We may be worried about how our family and friends back home react to our choice of whether to get the vaccine or not. It is possible to be afraid of being around a lot of people after being cooped up at home for over a year. The possibilities of worries are endless. I am here to tell you that you’re going to be okay.
The Last Time I Visited Home
I just went to America for the first time since February 2020. My partner Kevin was unable to travel with me to the USA this time. The USA is not allowing Europeans in right now. In February 2020, I went to see some of my sisters and my grandma in Seattle, WA. But I actually hadn’t been to my hometown, where the majority of my family lives, since November 2019 (Thanksgiving).
Luckily, I have a sister in Paris and got to see her a few times during the last year and a half. I am really grateful for that. My family is massive. I have 11 biological sisters and 3 biological brothers. That’s 15 kids total! I also have a few foster siblings.
Having a Hard Time
A lot of us talk every day or every other day. So being away from all of them was very difficult. I also had a really hard time because I was and still am struggling with an injury that took almost 2 years to get treated and now I am in the recovery stage. I wrote all about that in a separate blog post. I am very lucky that I have Kevin and he has a very big family as well. We see them often. I’ve also got great friends so I was completely alone.
This past year and a half were quite challenging for a lot of us. As foreigners, a lot of us couldn’t see our families even if we wanted to. Borders were opening and closing on a day’s notice. A COVID test for traveling was ridiculously expensive. A lot of us may have gotten sick. Every few weeks, the government would announce new rules or the relaxation of rules. It was madness. There was no certainty.
Things Are Starting to Look Up
Now that the majority of us can get vaccinated and this pandemic seems to be slowing down, life is slowly getting better. Things are open, people are going back to work in person, borders are opening and COVID tests for travel are finally free. A lot of us can finally go home and visit our families.
As exciting as going home may be, it can also be very scary. Every country, state, region, county, and town may have its own rules. Rules such as whether you have to wear a mask, whether you need a COVID test or proof of vaccination, whether you have to quarantine, and more. And these rules are changing from one day to the next. When I left the Netherlands, the Netherlands required that everyone traveling from the USA had to have a PCR test. A few days into my trip to the USA, the Netherlands abolished that rule.
People Are Different, and That Is Ok
There is also the issue of your family and friends back home not understanding your life choices. Some may be terrified of getting sick and some may not care at all. Some may judge you for traveling or not getting the vaccine. Your family and friends may also expect you to spend every waking minute with them.
I am here to tell you that you are going to be alright. It is none of anyone’s business whether you choose to get a vaccine or wear a mask. As long as you’re following the local laws and doing what’s right for you, that’s all that matters. People will always judge. People will judge you for abandoning your family and living somewhere else. People will judge you for things like being too fat or too skinny, for being too tall or too short, for your choice of work, your choice of lifestyle, and much more.
Do Not Stop Living Your Life
You can’t go around spending your whole life accommodating people’s quirks. This is your life, not theirs. You need to do what’s right for you. If you need a break from your family for a few hours, take it. If you want to go home early from your trip, do it.
My family lives across the whole city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They wanted me to drive back and forth several times a day to hang out, pick them up and drop them off. I told them that I would absolutely not do that. I never drive a car in the Netherlands so driving in the USA was extremely exhausting. My jetlag was also pretty bad. Milwaukee is 7 hours behind the Netherlands.
I also had a really hard time because I had a really hard time focusing on work. As a small business owner who just started her own writing and editing business, I don’t really have the option to put off work when it comes to making a deadline. Luckily, I was able to put away some time and get my work done. I did my best to only take a few projects while I was in the states. That way I still had time to spend with my family and friends.
Although I missed my family and friends dearly, I am excited to go home to the Netherlands. I miss Kevin and my life. I barely had any time to work this week, which is okay. But I own my own business and need to get back to it. My family and friends are very important to me but they are also a lot to handle. We all have a lot of opinions and we all have different personalities and sometimes it’s a bit much.
Have A Good Time
If you’re still here reading, have a wonderful trip seeing your family and/or friends. Remember to take time for yourself and stand up for yourself. This is a good thing. It shouldn’t be stressful. And most importantly, try to have fun!
The featured photo was taken by Ioana Hariga.
Are you excited or nervous to go home? If you’ve already gone home, how did it go?