Things that make me happy:

  • Harry Potter
  • The West Wing
  • Watching figure skating videos. My parents are looking at each other right now and wondering if I’ve been abducted by aliens or something. I’ve never told anyone this before, but two years ago I saw a clip of that 2014 Nationals on YouTube and I’ve been hooked ever since, becoming somewhat of a closet fan. I’ve watched the same four or five clips of my favorite skaters over and over again, and the artistry and athleticism is very impressive to me. Over the past few days I’ve been watching Gracie Gold, the 2016 national champion, over and over on YouTube. It’s been cheering me up.
  • Spotify
  • Taylor Swift. I’m listening to her album 1989 right now, and it is still very much my jam. It also makes me very happy that she has so many Grammy nominations.
  • Coffee
  • Videos from shows like Britain’s Got Talent and The Voice where someone unexpected surprises everyone with how good they are.
  • J.K. Rowling’s Twitter presence
  • Washing dishes. It’s weirdly therapeutic.
  • Feel the Bern
  • RadioLab
  • Basketball. I’m so thrilled to have something to do three times a week. I am absolutely terrible, but having something new to learn is awesome.
  • Adele
  • Fresh fruit
  • Lemon thing that I don’t know the translation to but it’s really good
  • The Broncos making it to the Super Bowl. I have invited all of the exchange students in my city to come to a sports bar with me to cheer them on. If we lose, hopefully it won’t be as terrible as it was a few years ago.
  • Pioneer Camp
  • F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Enough said.
  • Humans of New York
Some mango for you since I didn't really have a picture that matched this post perfectly
Some mango for you since I didn’t really have a picture that matched this post perfectly

I’ve been kind of depressed lately, and it’s been the appreciation of small things that have been getting me through the past month. I’m in a slump. Not everything’s perfect with my second host family, it’s really hot, I haven’t had anything to occupy my time with no school, my host city is the second most dangerous city in Brazil, it’s January and people are generally depressed in January, it’s raining a lot, etc. etc. etc. There are many different explanations for why I haven’t been feeling so happy lately, but I guess the simplest is that I’m a little homesick. I miss American food, I miss my family, I miss schoolwork, I miss being busy, I miss cold weather, I miss my friends, I miss libraries with books in English, I miss a lot of things.

At this point I just feel like I’m in limbo, waiting for things to happen. Waiting for my next exchange student trip. Waiting for my family to come visit. Waiting to go home.Things aren’t so exciting and exotic once you get used to them.

After about two months of summer vacation, school is finally starting up again on Monday, and I’m hopeful that the sense of routine and having something solid to do every day will be good. Also, my first host mom knows that I haven’t been so happy lately, as well as Veera from Finland. Even if they can’t make me magically happier, it’s nice having people to talk to. At first I wasn’t really interested in writing or posting this blog post, since I didn’t really want sympathy or Rotary to know. But then I decided what the heck. I’m allowed to be sad and homesick, despite the stigma on the internet and social media that every post out there must show happy you are and how perfect your life is. My life isn’t perfect.

I know things will get better, but I just need a little time. I’m also craving a little human interaction from the States from people that aren’t my parents and my friends, so if you want to FaceTime or Skype or something, send me an email and we’ll set up a date. I might wait a little while to actually agree to talk, though, since at this point I feel like talking to people at home is just making me more depressed. But drop me a line anyways, and we’ll set up a date.

6 comments / Add your comment below

  1. It’s about time to feel homesick … perfectly normal although not fun. I remember my own time abroad and generally excited about all the new things that were happening, loving the new adventures. This was in the days before internet so the only communication was an occasional letter from home that was sent to an American Express office in a selected city. Then spent a couple of days with a family friend who was older than me and living in one of the countries I was visiting. It was both wonderful and yet because it was sort of like being at home, I felt really homesick and cried myself to sleep that night. But then it was time to move on to the next part of the trip and things picked up again for me. Not always a great experience but it is an integral part of the whole “traveling abroad” thing. Love you and I appreciate so much your posts!

  2. Hi Claire. Hope you are feeling a little less homesick soon. But you are so right in realizing it is okay to feel sad or depressed sometimes! Your feelings are important, no matter what they are. Thank you for sharing your adventures in Brazil. I’m the mom of a 13 year old who is diabetic and I came across your website several months ago when my daughter declared that she wanted to “do things and be adventurous” and she doesn’t want her diabetes to stop her. Thanks for inspiring me as her mom! Hang in there! It will get better.

  3. Ohhhh, so sorry to hear you’re in an icky bit. I remember my freshman year at college I was so excited the first part of freshman year, then in February I was homesick, everything seemed hard, the sun didn’t shine a single day, and I wanted to poke my eyeballs out. Good for you for being able to identify and celebrate so many things that make you happy, as well as being able to articulate what makes you sad. Another great gift to yourself of your time there — just not in very nice packaging. We’re still sending love!

  4. First, I applaud your honesty. You are SO right about all of us feeling pressured to be happy and “everything is great.” You are a wonderful example of The Power of Positive Thinking, but you are also smart enough to know that isn’t real life 100% of the time.
    I’m sorry it isn’t! But you are where you should be in life: living, observing, questioning, firming opinions…. in truth. is IS “all good” for a beautiful young woman launching her life!!
    Brava to you. Claire! We’re here rooting for ya, through the fun AND the crap!
    Love you, girl.

  5. Hi Claire–I know you’ve been struggling, but I’m proud of you for working through it. It’s a great lesson to learn and one of the reasons we thought you would grow so much from this year. There’s a Forest Gump quote I keep hearing lately, about a box of chocolates and never knowing what you’re going to get. The trick is wading through even the gooier bits. You’re doing awesome and I love your list. We’ll see you on the other side! Love Mom

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