January 29, 2015

I went to college less than 8 miles from my home. I didn’t move out of my parents’ house until I got married. Then I moved 5,000 miles away to a little island.

I feltย a weird mixture of homesickness and pure joy as Nick and I started to make Oahu feel like home. It’s not that one is better than the other, it’s just that at this point in time, I need and want to be here in Hawaii. That doesn’t mean that I don’t love New York or I don’t miss my family. Anyone living far from home can understand this feeling, but it is pretty hard to describe.

During my time here, I’ve realized that you need to find a balance between allowing yourself to fully enjoy wherever you are living with staying connected to your roots back home. You can’t spend all day emailing your family and friends when you are living in a new place. What would be the point of exploring a new place if all you did was sit on your computer?

So, my best advice to anyone who is living far from home is to immerse yourself in your new home. Make your house feel like a second home. Get to know this new place. Drive around even if you don’t know where you are going. Try every single coffee shop. Meet new people. Learn something new. Cook with local ingredients. Take tons of pictures. Keep a journal to remember every second of it and remember how lucky you are to have this experience.


But don’t forget your roots. They’re what made you what you are. They’re what anchors you.

The way that I personally feel most connected to my family and friends is through snail mail. When I lived close to all of my family and friends, I never used to send them cute cards or little presents. But there is something about getting a letter in the mail that feels so personal, so intimate and loving.

Another thing that helps me stay connected is figuring out what kinds of communication works best for maintaining my different relationships. I have some friends that I text with, others that I Skype with, and others that I strictly email. You don’t have to communicate the same way with everyone you know, and you can’t spend all day on your computer. Figure out what works best for you.

Finally, I love making plans to visit home. Since I don’t have a full time job, I have the time to go home whenever I need to, which is a wonderful luxury that I know I am very lucky to have. Somehow knowing I can go home any time makes me feel secure. Whenever I do set a date to go home, I start making all kinds of plans to spend time with my friends and family. Having these things to look forward to makes separation easier.

Get out, explore, live. Stay rooted, but grow your wings.

22 responses to “Staying rooted, growing wings.”

  1. I think these are such great tips for living abroad – it is important to immerse yourself in the culture around you, but yes, equally important to stay connected to home. Love your idea of sending lots of cards and presents back and keeping in touch via snail mail. xxx

    • carolann says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Miranda! I love sending my friends and family little bits of Hawaii, and I equally love getting little bits of New York in the mail!

  2. Kat says:

    I love that last sentence!! And yes, there is something awesome about sending and receiving snail mail. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Melanie says:

    I agree completely! I have been living far from home for the past 7 years and it’s always help to make your place feel like a home!
    Melanie @ meandmr.com

    • carolann says:

      Yes it does! When we first moved here, I didn’t want to decorate or hang up pictures or anything like that because it is such a temporary place for us. But over time I realized how much happier we are when we have a cozy, home-y place to call ours. It makes it feel like home!

  4. Marlen says:

    I think you gave really solid advice here about transplanting. My favorite one was how you brought to light that you can literally fly home any time. Feel extra homesick? Well then, just go and visit! I grew up in Chicago and moved to Seattle for a bit, and knowing I had a trip back home (even if it was five months out) always alleviated some of the sadness. I’m glad to hear you’re finding a balance in Hawaii ๐Ÿ™‚

    xo marlen
    Messages on a Napkin

    • carolann says:

      Hi Marlen! Thanks for stopping by. My husband was stationed near Seattle for a few years and I loved it out there. I’ve never been to Chicago though!

  5. Kaelene says:

    Get out and live is what my parents always say to me! It is hard finding a balance between your new home and your old, it is something I am still working on!

    • carolann says:

      My parents say this too, which is probably where I got it from! It’s so great to have such a supportive family when living away from home!

  6. I love your thoughts on this Carolann, and I agree completely! There is importance in remembering where you came from, but also in letting new places and experiences have the opportunity to change you. I hope you enjoy your time in Hawaii. I’ve got to say, I’m a little jealous! Especially looking out at this dreary London day… ๐Ÿ™‚

    • carolann says:

      Thanks so much! It’s unreal sometimes to be here… I need to remember to take advantage of as much as I can. I love that you’ve been able to travel around Europe while living in London!

  7. Must have been such a shock to the system (although wonderful I’m sure) to have gone from being at your parents’ home to being on a whole new island but also so romantic! I love the idea of getting snail mail – I had a friend from the US who had come to England when we were only about 13 for a couple of years. When she went back, we used to exchange letters all the time and I would love seeing her letters in all different colours. Unfortunately, we kind of lost touch over the years but I still have the letters because it was such a nice treat to see them arrive on your doorstep ๐Ÿ™‚

    • carolann says:

      I always save letters that I get from friends and family in the mall, it really is a special treat. I used to have a pen pal from another part of the US, a girl who lived on a farm in Wisconsin. Being from New York, I found her letters fascinating. It’s been years since we have written each other but I still have her letters!

  8. Isabel says:

    Excellent advice! I also lived with my parents before getting married and though sometimes things get tough I’m really lucky to be able to have a lot of support here with my new family and from back home. It’s amazing to realize that now we have more love spread around and that is just marvellous!

  9. Leanna says:

    Where’s the “like” button for this post?!! So very true and you are certainly staying true to your roots while exploring and taking in all you can of a beautiful new place.

  10. Joyce says:

    Carolann! This is a wonderful post. I hope you get to try all the coffee shops around Oahu. ๐Ÿ™‚ Love you!!

  11. Holly says:

    Amen to all of this!!! I may not as far from home as you are, but this post speaks so much to me!

    • carolann says:

      Thanks Holly! It doesn’t matter how far away you are, when you are living in a new place, it’s all the same. I feel like so many people I know have moved away from home recently, including you! So this topic has been on my mind for a while so I am glad you liked it ๐Ÿ™‚

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