Can you believe we’ve been in France over 4 months now? We are loving our time here and we are doing our best to make the most of it. But that doesn’t mean we don’t get homesick every once in awhile. Today I woke up missing America — nothing specific really, just the familiarity of it all.

Since homesickness was on my mind, I asked the kids what they’re missing most of all. Here’s what they had to say:

Betty: Well, what I miss… hmmm… I miss my flower blanket and I also miss our cousins and I miss the green belt behind the house.

Oscar: I miss blueberries from Whole Foods! I miss the Sabeys. I think I miss my superhero toy too.

Olive: I miss having smoothies every day after school.

Maude: I miss cupcake batter. I miss cinnamon rolls. I miss Sour Patch Kids. I miss my gymnastics class and my turquoise bed sheets. And my favorite weeping willow tree on the way home from school.

Ralph: I miss pizza delivery. I miss the mall. Sometimes I miss dressing casually. It feels strange to be watching American pop culture happening from so far away. Also, I miss having movie theaters really close to my house.

What do you think you would miss most if you moved away from home?

P.S. — I took these images last month during a visit to The 104. We heard about it from Jordan. There is a stunning carousel there unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. And no matter how many pictures I took, I couldn’t do it justice. Every creature was elaborate and unique, with parts to manipulate and levers to pull. Truly a stunning work of art. If you want to see it in Paris, act fast, because it’s moving to its next location in a few weeks (we heard London might be the next stop).

86 thoughts on “Homesick”

    1. Argentan has a fantastic public library, it even has a good English section. Libraries are called bibliotheques in French — not to be confused with librairies, which are bookstores. : )

  1. Sandra Gonzales

    Did you write Betty’s comment exactly the way she said it? It’s funny but I could actually hear her.

  2. Aw! I feel you.

    When I first got here I missed things being open on Sundays. I missed BBQ everything. I missed 24-hr stuff. I missed my dryer and dryer sheets! I missed the idea convenience – one-stop shopping for magazines, food, pharmacy. I missed my friends.

    Seven years + later, I’m so used to life as it is here that I have culture shock each time I go stateside. Time is a funny thing.


  3. Aww. I know what they’re talking about! We moved from New Jersey to TN a little over a year ago and I still find myself feeling displaced and homesick! Besides the obvious friends and family I miss the familiarity of places I would go to. The bagel store I’d drive 30 minutes to just to get a freshly made one, the orchard store who made the best cheesecake EVER, the boardwalks and the beaches, most definitely, the pork roll, egg, and cheese sandwiches! NYC being only an hr away and being to get there by car, train or bus! Can you feel my homesickness?! LOL!

  4. I understand. In my case, however, I miss Europe. I have lived in America for almost 15 years now and I still miss London.

  5. Wow. That is an incredible carousel. Aw, sorry to hear about the homesickness.. I think I’d miss the food, friends and home. I mean, I could get a bagel and pastrami on rye in the States but it’s not like our bagel & smoked meat from Montreal. I’d miss those..

  6. Every time I travel to Europe, when I came back to the U.S., as soon as I walked through the airport, I felt this sense of relief and Oh I’m home! Even though I always had the most wonderful time abroad. I’ve heard there are some stores where you can buy American peanut butter in Paris!

  7. Hang in there – I’ve found that those days come sometimes and it’s best not to fight them. It’s also good to have a box of brownie mix on hand for those days since there’s something very American about how those taste (as opposed to from scratch). I’m not going to lie, I don’t often eat McDonald’s at home in US but we’ve definitely been known to go out of our way to find one on homesick days. But don’t worry, it passes quickly, and it will hit you in reverse once you’re back.

  8. We just moved across the country… again. But this time with kids (last time was 10 yrs ago). I always miss restaurants I loved. I actually wrote about it earlier this week.

    I think it’s hardest on the kids. They are missing friends, and dance recitals… and grandparents.

    We try to explore something new each weekend though to make it an adventure.

  9. This is easy since I’m currently living in Madrid as we speak. Of course I miss the normal things like family and friends, but I also reallyyyy miss the food. Coming from Portland where everyone is all vegan and veggie friendly and you can get good, healthy food optoins on the go – I miss that most.

    Other things – bike riding, Trader Joe’s/New Seasons, and lots more.

  10. I think it’s wonderful you are talking it out with your family. Also, be prepared to get culture shock when you come back to America. You may want to talk to your kids about how they could possibly feel out of place being back. Also, you may have seen this, but I came across this lovely design and it reminded me of your two kids:

  11. We lived in Italy last year and while I missed my large washer AND dryer, that were side by side back home, and being able to load up on lots of groceries in my large car, I dearly miss walking to one market for meat, one to get produce (I really miss the fresh fruits!) and stopping at the gelateria, at the corner, on the way home. I also miss riding our bikes everywhere we went, and the look of the laundry as it hung on the terrace of our apartment, like every one of our neighbors, and the fresh smell of it when I brought it in. I didn’t always appreciate it while there, but I tried to enjoy it because it was short lived and a wonderful experience for our family, which we may not get again.

  12. Your children are so sweet…what great things to miss. I love Ralphs answers…I lived in Portugal for a yr and those were the exact things I missed. :)

  13. This is what I’m not looking forward to…the homesickness. Besides a handful of relatives, I don’t have a lot that keeps me rooted here. It will be interesting to see what my experience will be in the coming months.

  14. I loved each of the childrens’ precious remarks and memories. I do remember the thrill we had when a Mac Donalds opened in Riga, Latvia. 1994.
    It was clean and bright and happy and it had a fantastic impact on everything.
    and everyone—anyway all of us Americans!
    I love the mountains here in Provo. With them I never get completely lost.
    Getting lost was my constant fear and frustrating experience living abroad.

  15. I moved from Brazil to California about 2 years ago and haven’t gone back since. I miss the food, the music and the “warm” habits – like hugging someone as a greeting when you’ve just been introduced. Oh and I miss being able to see the ocean every day!

  16. I miss driving (yet I don’t have the courage to do it in Paris!), I miss having parks where you can sit on the grass, I miss REAL American Style Sushi, I miss being able to speak easily to anybody, I miss working, I miss the warmth of Florida (yet I am happy not to be there right now through October ;-). I miss being able to pick up my cell phone and call my sister/mom/dad/friends…because the time difference is so great that I can only call them on weekends (and we rarely do as it is), I miss the ease of life in the States…with my husbands work schedule it’s pretty hectic here (they work a lot…you wouldn’t think so with 35 hour work weeks…but that only exists for non-exempt employees!), I miss good cheeseburgers and a few other down home American Food.

    I get homesick sometimes but I think after we reached the 6 month marker we started to feel like this was and is our home. We plan to return in 5 years or so…but you never know. We could be in Asia in 5 years!

  17. I miss things from Europe. I moved to Canada 8 years ago and miss authentic Swiss bread and cheese, being close to so many travel destinations and not using my car all the time to get around.
    However, I know I’d miss a bunch of things from here if I moved back to Europe…

  18. No matter how wonderful another country is, there is no place like home! When we lived in Paris I missed to-go coffee (you can find Starbucks but it is not appropriate to walk down the street with a to-go cup in hand) and good Mexican food. Being from California we have great Mexican everywhere, not so much in France. But, now that we live in the US, there are things I miss about France and look forward to each year when we visit. I am sure you will find the same once your family returns home. You miss little pieces of everyplace you have lived. It is a wonderful problem to have :)

    1. Oh that’s a good one, I so miss Mexican food (left that off my original list above).

      And to-go coffees. I do sometimes get a Starbucks and walk around Madrid but you definitely get funny looks!

  19. I can relate to Maude and Ralph’s comments for sure. What I found most disorienting when I lived in Scotland for a semester in college were those things that were almost like they were at home…but not quite. Little things like the candy, or even just the experience of going to the movies… something about those small differences that reminded me of the “real thing” without actually being the real thing could make me homesick in a heartbeat.

    Of course, like everyone else has said, now it works in reverse: Deep-fried Mars bars just aren’t the same this side of the pond… ;)

  20. I’m about to go home to California from a year abroad and I have missed Mexican food, driving my car, text messaging pictures to friends, scrapbooking, and Panera…so random but I cannot wait to have some tacos soon!

  21. I missed German bread when I lived in America. I almost hyperventilated when I discovered a box labeled “Pumpernickl” at the store. It wasn’t the real thing though…oh, the disappointment.

  22. I’ve been living in Germany for the past year with my husband. I miss being able to bargain shop at Goodwill and I miss good Mexican food. Other than that, I feel perfectly content here. Having spent much of my childhood overseas, I love that you’re letting your kids know that it’s possible to be happy in one place and still miss another.

  23. I’ve lived in the UK for 8 years now….it’s almost so long that I forget what I used to miss. Except Mexican food. And American deodorant (seriously, I have to have my parents ship it to me). And sodas with LOTS of ice. Stupid lukewarm beverages. And stores being open after 5 pm or for more than 6 hours on Sunday. OK, guess I do remember some things :)

    1. And groceries that stay open on Sundays. I used to always do our grocery shopping on Sunday afternoon and here, if you aren’t there by Saturday night and it’s not the first Sunday of the month, then you are out of luck till Monday.

  24. I lived in Guatemala as a missionary a long time ago and I remember missing the convenience and security of being able to shower bare-footed and drink water from the tap. Oh, and Taco Bell. I’ve traveled around the world since then and the one thing I’m always glad to come back to is my bed!

  25. Oh, I love this! Being homesick together seems like such a sweet thing. And it’s funny timing: I’m in my 2nd month of a 5 month stay in Europe and I JUST wrote out a list like this in my journal. And OF COURSE I miss silly little things that I took for granted in the States: huge American grocery stores, driving in the country, refills on Diet Cokes, Mexican food. I’ll be remembering that list when I get home, and I hope your kids will do the same. :)

  26. Oh, I wondered if the homesickness had caught up to the adventure of it all. (And 4 months! Can you believe you’re a third of the way through the year!?!) Such sweet things to miss though…

    That is an awesome carousel. It looks like so much fun and so interesting to boot. I think I’d have been stuck there for hours trying to discover it all.

  27. I’ve been living outside of the States for close to 7 years now and STILL get homesick for NY pizza, and bagels and the occasional pop tart…well, I miss a lot of things that I always felt comforting. Although I wouldn’t trade in any of the experiences I’ve had living in both Asia and Europe, but sometimes wish for the familiarity of just knowing what to do or where to go.

    The carousel you featured is incredible and my family and I were lucky enough to see it in Madrid. While there, the team that designed it had a monster parade with their various models and marched through Retiro Park at night. Everyone both young and old were mesmerized by it. Hope you’ll all get to see it while they’re in town!

    BTW Love all your stories of your family adventure and your kids seem to be adapting so beautifully to it all! Hope you have a great summer!

  28. You are such a beautiful family chronicler. What a treasure for you and your children. This is a shared experience which will bond you. 

    15 years into the ex-pat experience, your comments take me home; although undeniably affected by my personal lives choices that include being married to a triple-passport European/ American,  I  always feel that life is just well oiled when I home (the US); everything feels so much easier— so much easier. Just simple reference points: Chinese laundry or .. The feeling of the home delivery of the girl scout thin mints? 

    Do you find that when you miss, say: coffee from a certain coffee shop back home; it’s more than the coffee beans?  It’s having that coffee served by the familiar stranger, on a soft Saturday morning, while you prepare your list on your way to the Farmer’s market, which is starting around the corner and the way the sun feels through that cafe’s window? It’s that cup of French Roast that I miss.

    Sent from my iPad are such an amazing chroniclers Living abroad (now basically 15 years… Can not believe it) I find th

  29. I miss wide streets, and freeways. In Japan the streets are quite narrow and people always park on them, and every highway is a tollroad. Just the 50 km. trip to Tokyo and back costs about $40 to drive (and can take 2 hours one way which would be nuts in America).
    Luckily we can get American food really cheap, since my husband is a teacher on the military base we have access to all those resources. But I miss Target. And thrift store shopping.
    But I love Japanese food, and riding trains and how green it is here (I grew up in the deserts of southern Nevada). And I love the people!

  30. Oh what I miss most form my country (Colombia) besides my parents of course, is the food! and the smell of fruit and flowers everywhere anytime of the year!

  31. We tried leaving the bay area once. We only went to North Carolina, but it may as well have been another country. We missed our families, the cultural diversity, the restaurants, the amazing produce, the wine, the mountains, and the fog. We spent more time building our house than we did living in it and then high tailed it back home.

  32. I was just thinking about how long I’ve been reading your blog. I started reading RIGHT after June was born! So crazy it’s been a year already! :) Anyway, I think I’d miss sour patch kids, too!! hehe

  33. Jody Nebesnik

    Very cute post, I love hearing what the kids had to say. Just one question. “What’s the green belt behind your house”? Is it a road? Or a real belt? or… ?

    1. Hi Jody! “Green belts” are popular in Colorado communities. In many neighborhoods, houses back to community green space. It’s wonderful! My kids would go out to the green belt and immediately be joined by a dozen other kids — away from any traffic or streets.

  34. ohhhh. cute indeed.
    Althought we’re back in Europe (NL) but not at home (Fr), it looks like this:
    1. family and friends! Big time! Although distance sometimes keeps you away from unwanted ‘brouhaha’
    2. the view of the Vosges and the Black Forest which makes my home region look like a peaceful craddle in the middle of Europe and where every season is noticeable.
    3. recognizing random people in the street. but that goes with time.
    4. the Food! all of it.
    And since we’ve moved after spending several years in the US, there it would be:
    1. the Southwest and the desert.
    2. indeed the easiness of shopping, and few stores in particular and for some products in particular too.
    3. NPR
    4. my neighbours!
    5. BBQs and Tex Mex. especially Salsa verde!
    6. oh and Stacey is SO right about BO!!! :-)

  35. I moved to Uk from Italy (or, to be more precise, I moved from Rome to an industrial city that proudly calls itself “the largest village in Uk”), and what I miss is:
    -the part of the family and friends that are still in Italy;
    -the warm and sunny weather, and now that’s summer, the mediterranean sea;
    -proper food: in pubs and restaurants, english food is so disappointing, but also is so hard to find in shops bread, meat and vegetables that taste of something!
    -friendly people: here seems that everyone’s first worry is not to disturb others, at the point that sometimes you think they just don’t care… while I’m used to noisy and nosy talkative people that look at you and talk, talk, talk to you!
    But there are things of Italy that I don’t miss at all, too.
    And there will be things I’ll miss when we’ll leave the house we’re actually renting: first of all, the tree that I can see from the kitchen windows.
    It’s normal, isn’t it? There is good and bad sides… and we tend to remember the good ones, and we miss them.
    And oh, please, tell Ralph that he’s allowed to dress casually, occasionally!

  36. I’ve only recently discovered your blog and this post hit home immediately. We moved to Ireland just three months ago and will be here for two years while I assist the company I work for with a start-up. While we definitely miss family and friends, convenience & familiarity are the other two big things we miss. While we are in another English speaking country, there are times it certainly does not feel like it :) That said, we are enjoying it and our two little ones have adapted quickly. It was a decision we put a lot of thought into, and knew it was an adventure we could not pass up. That said, when we visit home later this year we will likely shop more than we ever have ;-)

  37. Several years ago, my husband and I were waiting to board our flight home from Provence to the 13th original colony. Fellow travelers with their Elderhostel-ish looking group were talking about what they could not wait to get back to. One of them declared “I can’t wait to get me some sawmill gravy and biscuits from the Cracker Barrel”. Well, Kevin and I sorta quietly laughed–ha! who would be missing something so pedestrian after eating croissants and macaroons for three weeks?

    You know where we went for the breakfast the next day. Yup, the Cracker Barrel.

  38. Could you explain more about the 104? The practical information provided on the website only made me more confused. We’ll be in Paris later this summer and don’t want to miss anything cool.

  39. We missed Mexican food. You could get the chips and the salsa, but could not get cheddar cheese in our part of Switzerland. Nacho’s are just not the same with mozarella cheese or swiss cheese.

  40. i didn’t read all of the comments, so maybe this has been discussed, but my guess is that the things the kids will miss about france when you return to colorado are going to be more meaningful and memorable, and probably more experience-based and less material-based. this year in france will be a part of your family forever.

    it is cute, however, to think about a kid missing sour patch kids.


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