The Part No One Talks About: Homesickness

During my research on my project for Latino Conservation Week, I came across an article that really resonated with me. This article detailed the struggles of minority interns in the Park Service. A quote that I thought about long after reading the article was

“the geographic dislocation that discourages many young people of color from the Park Service was very real to her (Nancy Fernandez, Park Intern). She struggled financially and worried about her future”

In latino culture, it is very rare for kids to stray far from home, even more rare as a daughter. When applying for this internship I knew I would face challenges and that I would have be on my own in a sense. I am from California and I only applied to programs that were in California, fearing that anything out of state would be too hard. I mapped every park I applied to to ensure that my family would still be able to visit me and it would be realistically affordable for them. My family is very tight knit, my brother and his family live only two houses away from me and my mom. I am the youngest of two and the first to fly a little farther from the coop, so this was new for my mom. My mom’s youngest was moving 7 hours from her even if it was just for the summer. 

Aside from being 7 hours from home, my mom struggled with the fact that I was literally going to be disconnected digitally, which brought up safety issues for her. Unfortunately, my housing does not have cell service or wifi so I am quite literally disconnected as soon as I get home. This worried her a lot, she even tried to convince me to not stay. She was not comfortable leaving me in a city where I knew no one, and had no way of contacting her once I got home. This lead to many tears, and having to convince my mom that I would be fine and I had to be courageous. It is hard when my support system is begging me not stay but I could not quit before I even had a chance to experience what this journey entailed. I promised her that if I ever felt like it was too much and I was too homesick, I would tell her and she would be on the next flight picking me up. I think my mom also struggled with the fact that I was not in a city but instead a very remote suburban location. Also because of COVID I am not allowed any guests or visitors in my housing which makes things a little more strained. There are days where I feel very alone because it seems like there is so much stacked against me but things are getting easier. I think it’s important for me to be transparent about my journey because if others are feeling the same way I want them to know they are not alone. You are not weak for missing your family, and being home-sick, something I have to remind myself almost daily. The transition is uncomfortable and scary but by stretching ourselves past our comfort zone we are growing. 

My first week was very very rough to say the least, being away from family during a pandemic is not an easy feat but it is one I am slowly overcoming. As I approach my fourth week, I have established a routine and I am so excited about my work for Latino Conservation Week. I am glad that I took the leap into the unknown and that the work I will be doing will be impactful. I hope others feel the same way too! 

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