May 232012
Homesickness and the Dream of Return: Leaving and Staying

In “Homesickness: An American History” Susan Matt tackles the development of the emotion in the United States. As a nation of immigrants, America has abundant experience with homesickness. Chapter 5 titled “Immigrants and the Dream of Return” focuses specifically on the period between 1871 and 1920, when some 20 million immigrants journeyed to America, and has the most to say about the immigrant experience with homesickness, both then and today. Clinging to Dreams of Return New, faster and cheaper transportation technology in the late 19th and early 20th century enabled […] Continue reading >

May 192012

“My homeland,” says the guest, “no longer exists. My homeland was Poland, Vienna, this house, the barracks in the city, Galicia, and Chopin. What’s left? Whatever mysterious substance held it all together no longer works. Everything’s come apart. My homeland was a feeling, and that feeling was mortally wounded. When that happens, the only thing to do is go away.” —Konrad, a character in Sándor Márai’s novel “Embers” (1940)

Feb 252012
Speaking of Home and Homeland

When we are home, we don’t need to talk about it. To feel at home is to know that things are in their places and so are you; it is a state of mind that doesn’t depend on an actual location. The object of [nostalgic] longing, then, is not really a place called home but this sense of intimacy with the world; it is not the past in general, but that imaginary moment when we had time and didn’t know the temptation of nostalgia. When we start speaking of […] Continue reading >

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 >

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 >