I am incredibly happy and proud every time I hear from current or prospective assistants who have found this blog helpful.
But today I got a comment on my new blog that made me so sad, and reminded me how hard being an assistant can be:
Hey stumbled on your blog when i googled “TAPIF” and “Homesick”. Please help!!! Any suggestions because I totally relate to your post on staying in bed all day watching crappy American TV. How did you get through this? Because being home for Christmas is making me crazy homesick and I still have three months to go! –Sarah
The funny thing is I had practically forgotten how sad and depressed I sometimes got last year. I really remember it as being the best experience ever, and I miss France and my assistant friends terribly.
I responded to her comment, but I thought I would re-post my advice here, so it might be of help to other assistants worried about making it through the last 3-month stretch. You will! Spring will come. You still have, like, four more weeks of vacation time coming up. And next year you’ll be looking back on your time with starry eyes. In the meantime, my advice:
Homesickness is so hard.
A few American TV show marathons, they can take the edge off, but it just can’t be all you do.
What I truly found most helpful was spending more time with the other assistants, because we’d get on each other’s cases about going out, or going for a run, or eating healthier. There was one girl in particular who had the greatest energy, she just radiated vibes of positivity, and hanging out with her would lift me up. And then we she was down (happens to everyone, even the most positive of people!) I would drag her out and we’d go for coffee. If you have someone like that, let them know you’re feeling miserable (let it all out, because they’ve felt the same way in the past 4 months and sharing will help) and that you should do something special to cheer you up–a movie, a nicer-than-usual dinner, even a weekend trip if you can afford it.
Also, it helps to think back to why you came to France in the first place–are there things you still really wanted to accomplish? It’s not too late to improve your French tremendously, or to make new French (or assistant!) friends, or to learn how to salsa (or something–I used to go to salsa nights with my roommates). Did you want to travel to the U.K. or to Germany but you haven’t got the chance yet? Plan a trip!
If that doesn’t help, then think about your future (although personally, that was usually what depressed me). You have so much time on your hands: prepare job applications, rewrite your résumé, take on some extra tutoring classes and make some cash. It’s not too late to start a blog–that was one way I brought myself back from the brink of depression. It gave me a sense of purpose, it kept me in touch with people at home, and strengthened my relationships with other assistants.
Most important thing is to force yourself to get out of the house. You’ll find a reason, I’m sure. Also, know that I miss France SO MUCH right now, and you might feel the same next year, and you don’t want to have any regrets.
Good luck! Any other assistants reading, please share your own advice for overcoming homesickness in the comments.