Table Talk: Homesickness?
Susan J. Matt, a professor of history at Weber State University (Ogden, Utah), but writing an op-ed for the NYT (March 21, 2012), tells of how "The New Globalist Is Homesick":
In nearly a decade's research into the emotions and experiences of immigrants and migrants, I've discovered that many people who leave home in search of better prospects end up feeling displaced and depressed.This might not seem especially surprising, for everyone has experienced homesickness, but a statistic provided by Professor Matt did catch my eye, namely, that "20 to 40 percent of all immigrants to the United States ultimately return to their native lands"! Migrants returning doesn't surprise me, but immigrants? Surprising. Even more surprising was the shift in attitudes about admitting to homesickness:
In the 19th century, Americans . . . admitted that mobility was emotionally taxing . . . . Stories of the devastating effects of homesickness were common . . . . Today, explicit discussions of homesickness are rare, for the emotion is typically regarded as an embarrassing impediment to individual progress and prosperity.Think about that. Those tough men and women of the 19th century gave voice to their emotions. I'd always imagined them stoical, but we contemporary folk seem more closed-mouth about our feelings than they were . . . with respect to homesickness, anyway.
I'm also silent about feeling homesick, but that's because I don't feel any homesickness at all, despite my many years abroad -- indeed, probably because of them. I'm used to being away from home. My only adult case of homesickness occurred during my first year at Baylor University, way back in 1975 to 1976, when I was still adjusting to life in the 'big' city of Waco, Texas and powerfully missing the Arkansas Ozarks.
In Korea, by contrast, I feel no homesickness at all. Neither voluble nor stoical about any putative homesickness, I am perfectly satisfied, even happy here.
There must be something wrong with me . . .