Dealing with Homesickness: Life in America

How holidays bring about feelings of homesickness among America's newest arrivals

The writer and her La Salle classmates on vacation in Gigante, Huila (Colombia), celebrating the Holy Week.

Courtesy of La Salle

The writer and her La Salle classmates on vacation in Gigante, Huila (Colombia), celebrating the Holy Week.

Laura Galvis Diaz, Staff Writer

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America is a country full of diversity; you can find people from all parts of the world in your backyard. We can learn about a lot of holidays all over the world, and the differences between how each country celebrates them just by talking with our neighbors and classmates. Not everybody celebrates the same holidays but everyone looks forward to celebrating milestones and holidays with the family members and loved ones.

As we know, millions of people have come to America as migrants and they are still coming. They came here with the dream of having a better future, running from some problem they have in their home country, or simply because that’s what they have to do

A lot of these people remember their home country and dream about having the chance of visiting again.

For example, in the US and in my country—Columbia—Christmas is a season you are supposed to share with your family. When people talk about the importance of spending time with family, they might think about all the people who spend the holidays alone.

Living apart from family is difficult but it becomes harder during holidays and special occasions. Some countries celebrate not only holidays, but birthdays, Mother’s Day, Women’s Day, and religious days. Some specifically holidays are not celebrated in the US and even though you can celebrate them in the US, it is not the same experience. For example, I can go to the church in the US on Good Friday but it would be a different experience than attending church in Colombia on a “Viernes Santo.”

Colombia is most a Catholic country, so Holy Week is important for the country. This is the time of year when we, as a largely Catholic country, remember how Christ died for us. During this week we try to live and reflect on what it means in perspective with our lives. For us, on Holy Sunday (Easter) is a new opportunity for us to be a better person and try to be better than last year with regard to our mistakes.

There are some similarities between how the churches in the US and Colombia celebrate this. The Holy Week is different in Colombia, you and your family commemorate Holy Friday (Good Friday) with street processions and reenactments of Christ’s story. So when you are apart from your family, living in another country, it becomes a hard moment.

When you start to remember all the things you used to do back home, you see the real value of life.

According to the “American Dream,” people came here thinking about vacations and easy money. But they are wrong. Living in a country like America, makes you live in a bubble made of a “routine.” The routine becomes your whole life. For instance, for me and many of my classmates, our routine is coming to school, going to work after school for low pay and long hours and them returning home with little time to prepare for the next day. For adults, it is working all day, to the point when they don’t even have time to take a vacation.

Living with this routine day after day makes us even more homesick.

Some of the things that you miss when you spend your entire life in one place and then move to another country is the house where you used to live, your friends, and all the experiences you had, your family members who still live there, the former lifestyle, etc.

What about the holidays makes you more homesick? In a country like Colombia, you have a lot of holidays around the year. There are some holidays you used to spend with your family and some with friends. And now you’re living in the US and these holidays are not celebrated here or don’t have the same significance. Maybe you are surrounded by loved ones, but it is not the same situation for all migrants. And that is the moment when you start being homesick.

La Salle/Gigante
The writer and her La Salle classmates participate in an Easter reenactment in Gigante, Huila (Colombia), 2018.