Feb 012012
Ghymes and Družina: How Music Creates a Sense of Home

One of my fondest memories of Bratislava, where I went to college in the mid-1990’s, is joining my friend Zuzana at the Hungarian Cultural Institute for monthly concerts of Ghymes, a Hungarian folk band from southern Slovakia. The concerts contributed to my sense of Bratislava as a place in Europe’s center. Peoples and cultures have mingled for centuries in the area where the Danube and Morava rivers as well as the contemporary countries of Austria, Hungary, and Slovakia meet. Heard at the foot of the Carpathian Mountain Range, Ghymes reminded us that the vastness of the […] Continue reading >

Dec 202011
The Soup That Is Christmas

The American Christmas table is different from the Slovak one: no fish, no potato salad, no bobalky, but, most importantly, no kapustnica. Early on in my life as a transplant, I realized I could live without all the traditional Christmas dishes except for the sauerkraut soup. The holiday connotes a lot of things—the tree, presents (socks!), snow (if you’re lucky), family, old movies—but what really makes Christmas for me is, indeed, kapustnica. As the first course, it brings the family together at the dinner table. It’s the ultimate comfort […] Continue reading >

Nov 162011
How to Be Homesick Without Going Crazy: Action

Stressful situations like homesickness (see previous post) elicit two basic responses: fight or flight. You can confront your homesickness by getting angry, argumentative, or violent (if you’ve ever wanted to punch someone who doesn’t know where your country is located, you know what I’m talking about). Or you can try to get away from it with the help of drugs/alcohol or social withdrawal. I say there’s a third way: embrace your homesickness. Wherever You Go, There You Are* Each and every method below rests on a single prerequisite: accept your reality. […] Continue reading >

Nov 142011
How to Be Homesick Without Going Crazy: Understanding

When as a transplant you find yourself far away from everything you know, you’re bound to get homesick from time to time. Because I don’t enjoy feeling homesick, I looked back at how I’ve not only combated but also embraced my homesickness and, I hope, turned it into something positive. To deal with something, one must understand it. This first of two posts will examine homesickness as a phenomenon. What’s homesickness all about? What a Feeling, Bein’ Homesick’s Believin’ The Oxford Dictionary defines being homesick as “experiencing a longing for one’s […] Continue reading >