It started when I saw a guy in a Wisconsin badgers sweatshirt. My initial reaction was to wonder why in the world Mexicans care about American college sports, but I also can’t explain why Americans care either, so there you go. My second thought was of my Wisconsin badgers sweatshirt (Why do I have that? I don’t know/care about the Badgers.) But my sweatshirt is tucked in a far away drawer at home, and anyways it’s not nearly cold enough here to wear it. And that reminds me – I’m going to miss fall.
I’ve just got to call it like I see it: I miss my home country, a little bit. I miss my hometown, my college town, the Midwest, the U.S. and everything familiar. Of course, my homesickness is spiked with a heavy dose of “the grass is always greener on the other side,” but that’s partly true because Guanajuato is a city and nobody has lawns.
It’s small things, like the lack of grass, that I miss. I miss how in my hometown people wave when they drive past you on country roads, when you’re getting the mail or out for a walk. Almost everybody does it. It’s not that friendly, more of a “Yep, I acknowledge your existence,” but I still miss that. Especially the other day when I was out for a run and I thought a guy driving by waved at me, but he was just adjusting the visor so to block the sun better. It was too late because I’d already waved at him. Dork.
Part of this homesickness is brought on by having to adapt to different systems. For example, I miss the ease of public libraries at home. The library here is like a box of chocolates, in that YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GONNA GET! Whew. Got it out of my system. First of all, they hide the libraries. To get to the library at the history/literature campus, you either walk through the cafeteria kitchen on the second floor or hike around the entire building until you think you’re about to lose yourself out on the bluffs and have to survive off cacti. When you eventually find the library, you have to figure out the lending system. The deal: most books (i.e. all the ones you actually want to read) can’t be checked out, as they’re considered “reference.” Your options: sit and read the books in the library, make copies, or try to find something useful in the shelves of books available for checkout – the beat-up paperbacks printed in the 60s with the spines cracking apart. And anything you check out, you can only have one week. If anything, these problems have at least renewed (hahahah – library pun!) my appreciation for the libraries I have access to at home. And will definitely be visiting when I get back.
At the same time I’m missing things back home, there are new things here to appreciate, things I can see myself missing when I leave Mexico. Among these: social greetings. If you’re not a fan of physical contact, you probably won’t appreciate Mexican greetings. Everyone greets each other by name and if your relationship that’s even a tiny bit familiar, you’ll get a hug and a kiss on the cheek. This is an interaction that has taken some getting used to, in part because it comes from nearly everyone – as in, I didn’t expect it from the mailman. My tip: always turn your head to the left. While the physical aspect takes some getting used to, it’s nice that people always take the time to acknowledge each other. (Something the American culture could work on.)
On a different note, I also like the buses here. The typical bus ride is bumpy, noisy, and when you get off the smell of diesel hits you in a hot wave of fumes. A lot of the buses have some form of Jesus tribute, ranging from the basic rosary hanging from the rearview mirror to full-on dash-altars complete with crucifixes and decorative lighting. There’s also no bus schedule, so you go to the stop and wait until the one you want comes along. However, that brings me to the best feature of the bus. If you don’t make it to the stop on time, you can flag down the bus and they will stop for you, in the middle of the road if need be.
Lastly, another thing I would like to adapt to the U.S.: people here have no shame about their diet habits, no matter how questionable. I saw a guy drinking a coke at 8:15 a.m. and it wasn’t even diet! It’s nice to be around people who will eat their bag of chips without shooting furtive looks around, like “Oh no, who is going to see me right now?” and just buy their ice cream without saying sad things like “Would it be bad if I…?” Obviously everything in moderation – but Americans eat all kinds of horrible stuff anyways, so wouldn’t it be better if we just admit it?
And if you’re now worried about my nutrition, you should be. Haha, no – there’s a lot of walking to be done around here, just getting to class, and there are hills everywhere. It all balances out.
Oh – what a nice cliché to end a post about homesickness! It all balances out.