By Rebecca Kropp, Senior AmeriCorps member serving on the Staples, Inc. team with Curley K-8 School
“I think you are really brave, you know. For moving across the country to do a year of service, leaving all of your people in Oregon.”
My eyes started watering. I nodded and avoided eye contact as I started to pick at my nail polish. I laughed in an effort to conceal my actual and unadmitted feelings about moving so far from home. She saw right through me, “No, I’m serious. I don’t think I could have done it. Oh my gosh are you okay?”
I choked back tears, trying to articulate myself. I missed a lot of things about home: my best friend and other half from college, my sister, and my 14-month-old nephew. I wanted a hug from my mom, to cuddle up on the couch with my dogs, and to be able to watch my brother play in his first year of high school sports.
For two months, I convinced myself that I was not homesick. I was strong, I could do anything for a year. FaceTime, texting and various other types of social media made it easy to talk to all of the people I missed in Oregon.
Yet I was definitely homesick. After admitting my homesickness, I came come up with a handful of tips, tricks, and strategies in order to feel more settled in Boston during a year of service:
- HAVE A GROWTH MINDSET! It’s okay to be homesick. This took me a long time to realize it. Your year of service will, without a doubt, provide endless opportunities for professional, leadership, personal and relationship growth. Being open and welcoming to change in all of these areas will make your year as fruitful as it possibly can be.
- BUILD NEW AND MEANINGFUL RELATIONSHIPS, both in and outside of your service and team. No matter how far you move from home, you are joining a group full of other people who are will be simultaneously going through a comparable service experience. Sometimes no one but them will understand what you are going through. I also think you should connect with non-AmeriCorps members because while “your people” might only be a phone call away, there is something to be said for in person, real life interactions with individuals who can offer a different perspective and share about their life outside of City Year.
- DEVELOP A COMMUNICATION ROUTINE. Make a routine of calling “your person” back at home frequently, whether it’s your mom, your dad, best friend, sister, or brother. I try to call my mom at least once a week, I have a bi-weekly FaceTime, Skype or phone call with one of my best friends. I text my siblings often, hoping they reply to me.
- STAY BUSY. I try to explore and do new and different things on the weekends to keep myself busy. If I’m occupied, not only with service but also with exploring Boston, I don’t have time to feel sad about being so far away from home.
- PRACTICE SELF CARE. You have to balance staying busy with taking care of yourself. This is the thing that I still struggle the most with. Sometimes my self care is going to bed before 8:00 p.m. Other times it’s painting my nails with my roommate, working out, reading a book, or Netflix binge-watching.