Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Avoiding "The Trunkies"

A while ago I wrote about an unforeseen setback that thoroughly derailed my project for a few weeks: losing my backpack. Today, I'm back to tell you about another one: the unfortunate and untimely death of both my camera and my laptop. On the same day.

Because apparently London isn't exciting enough by itself.

The good news is that none of my pictures on my camera or my data on my laptop were lost. And the better news is that one of my flatmates is visiting her family in Australia and won't need her laptop, so she's letting me use it. But even with all these fortuitous events occurring, my research and writing will still suffer some major setbacks.

The most difficult problem I face with my laptop dying is my flatmate asked that I only use her laptop at the flat, and not to take it with me to do research. I completely respect this, especially considering that my luck in the UK with valuables has been rather bad. However, this also means that when I go to the British Library and do research, I have no computer access, and therefore I cannot write and research at the same time. And being forced to have separate processes of writing and researching significantly slows down my progress. I'm used to going to the library, getting a huge pile of books, writing until I need to research a quote or a date, and researching until I can write again. Separating the processes adds quite a handicap.

Anyway, the sum total of all these problems are adding to another problem. Even though I have two more weeks here in England (busy days, full of research at the Library and museums and art galleries, day-trips to historical sites, and a last-minute trip to Ireland), I am more than ready to come home. I can't stop thinking about my flight home, or who I'm going to see when I get back. I'm getting "trunky," as they say.

This "trunkiness" is made worse by a number of factors:
-the aforementioned breaking of my camera and laptop, which will be replaced once I get home.
-all of my friends on their study-abroads/summer vacations/internships have returned home in the past week or so, and feel the need to tell me about how much they have missed the States.
-my sister announcing that she and her youngest child are coming out to visit when I get home.
-professors at BYU who I really need to talk to in person (emails just aren't cutting it anymore).
-wedding invites from about a bazillion friends getting married in the few weeks between my return to the States and the beginning of school.

Does anyone have ideas or remedies for getting rid of my "trunkiness"? It's not like I'm so obsessed with thoughts of home that it's impeding my research, but it's hard to enjoy my time here when my mind is a few thousand miles away. If you have any suggestions, they would be very much appreciated, and if I come up with a solution, I'll be sure to write about it.


  1. I don't know if I have the perfect advice for trunkiness. I have definitely experienced it a time or two. On a mission we were just supposed to never think about home and communication back home was limited so that really made it easier. The less contact the less reasons to think about what is going on at home. On a field study though it is different. You are able to communicate as much as you feel like etc. I think for me, what help is really trying to stay busy and filling my day with things I was really excited about doing so I had something to look forward to every day rather than just looking forward to leaving. So maybe try something new. Plan to go to a new restaurant or a site you haven't visited yet. Go visit some friends you've made or go get ice cream. I don't know for sure just try to do some fun things to keep you engaged and excited about where you are at. Being idle is the worst for trunkiness (not that I think you are, I am just speaking from experience).

    Also, if you can sort of set mental limits for yourself that might help. Yes, you have all these things to look forward to but maybe say, I will think about that when I am on the plane or when I touch down in the US. For now, they are not a concern. That, of course, is easier said than done. But I think if you say, yes, I will think about it, but not now then you are not neglecting the thoughts or feelings of home but you are not entertaining the thoughts when you could be focused on the great things you will miss in London.

    I don't know if this helps but I think it is totally normal to be excited and focused on the next step in life. I definitely feel that right now as I am getting ready to go to Switzerland. Hey that is an interesting thought actually, why is it trunkiness when we want to come home but excited and anxious to get out there when we are getting ready to go abroad? Maybe that is something to explore. How do we do it when we are at home getting ready to go? I'll have to think about that some more... And now this is just becoming stream of consciousness writing so I think I am done.

  2. So I noticed that the times i was trunky (which happened at random times rather than at the end of my trip) were more because of social limitations rather than location. I had plenty of friends in Madagascar but I had none of my close "western" friends that really understood me, that I could just talk to for ever, at ease, in a language i knew perfectly. i'd hang out with the missionaries but you never get to know someone well when you both know that you're only two ships passing in the night. Also, whenever I am in a place and time where I have close friends, it doesn't matter where i am or where i'm going, i'm sorry to go. So i'd say the best thing you could do is find your closest friend in country and spend time having fun with that person. Go to a cafe every night or relax at a park. For me, going touristy just emphasizes the temporary nature of your trip and draws your focus to more permanent aspects of your life back home. Most importantly though, spend time with people.

    That's my two cents... plus one dollar. :)