Finding home while abroad always makes you feel kind of amazing.
A native from Toronto meets a young man from San Francisco in China, and suddenly they’re next door neighbors separated since birth. Immediately it’s all, “oh have you ever been to Chicago, why yes I went when I was 2–oh my gosh, I was there when I was five, how’d you like it?!?” Sometimes it’s a brand that you may have never bought in the States, but that you suddenly find comforting. I personally never buy from Cold Stone Creamery. My family used to own an ice cream store, and no one really likes the heavy cream desserts, so when we eat Ice Cream we make our own. But for some reason, on a hot day alone in Korea, Cold Stone Creamery seems awfully comforting simply because I know that at that very moment, someone I know might be doing the same thing.
Despite what many non-travelers think, we usually aren’t really wishing we were back home. We don’t want to abandon our trips abroad or regret taking off on an adventure. Really, it isn’t home we’re looking for at all, it’s just that connection to home. That feeling that, if needed, home is just around the corner. You don’t want to go back to home, it’s just that home needs to be brought to you. Usually, what we really need is a sign that home can still be found right were we are.
For me, this summer that connection was a little flyer I picked up in Japan. I’d been there nearly 3 weeks and I was starting to get a little homesick. On my way back from school, I ran across an ad for the theatrical version of Kuroshitsuji in a Gas Station.
You may not recognize the name, but Kuroshitsuji was an anime my best friends and I used to watch in college. Whenever college or finals or life got to be too much, the four of us would all get together and watch whatever episodes were out. If nothing new was up, we’d watch re-runs. It got us through deaths, failed classes, broken hearts, lost jobs, family fights, and 21-credit semesters. It’s actually a surprisingly angsty show, which allowed us to get all teary-eyed and dramatic without looking like idiots in real life. But it also had characters like the insane, safety-scissor waving, cross-dressing death god who we all adored. I actually watched a lot of anime in college, but I never met anyone in Japan who recognized my shows or saw anything talking about them. So to find this little ad for Kuroshitsuji meant a lot to me. Admittedly, it was Japanese in nature, but to me it connected Japan to home. I ran home and told my friends all about it, and for a little bit I got to squeal with them about something we all recognized. I felt reunited, just enough to remind me that home wasn’t really that far away. In fact, I could still find some parts of it as far away as I was.
So for those of you who are travelling abroad, and are reaching that point where you just need a home-sized hug, look around you. Maybe you aren’t looking for something in the U.S. (or whatever nation you’re from); maybe you just need to find something familiar. Think back to what made you fall in love with the idea of visiting this country? Don’t focus on what you don’t have. Focus on the one think in your life that lives in both locations. You will always be able to find the one thing that looks at you and screams: “You Know Me!” It’s the familiarity that matters.