For anyone who wants to stay in a foreign country, three months is the longest I’d recommend. It’s long enough for you to establish a routine and live like a local, but short enough that you don’t go nuts with homesickness. After extending my original U.S. trip to three months, I was all set to go home to Manila on June 13 – when I received this e-mail from Casual Connect:
I am happy to inform you that your session proposal “The Casual Adventure: Writing “Awakening: The Dreamless Castle” is accepted as a shared session and will become a part of the Game Design track on the 22nd of July…
There was no way I was going to pass this up. I had never been to Casual Connect (which is the GDC of my industry – finally, a relevant conference!). Plus, I would be talking about game writing, for a game I very much loved. But the logistics of staying until end of July were problematic, and I was wrought with indecision for about a week – should I go home to Manila and come back in time for Casual Connect? Or stay here, making this into a five-month trip? (I could legally stay for six months, thanks to a nice immigration officer in Hawaii, and I am grateful for even having this option.)
I longed to see my friends, my parents, my flat, my car… longed to hear the noise of Manila, the hustle and bustle, the stickiness and the grime and the music and the 24-hour life that was the opposite of what I had now. And staying in someone else’s house for five months (even if it’s family) is a huge, embarrassing imposition. After a week, I decided – I was going home, and coming back in July, even if it cost me a gazillion. I felt very good about my decision, until my dad wisely brought up: “Dear, that’s only a few weeks in between visits. Immigration might not let you in again.”
I looked it up, and he was right. Doh!
So, here I am – it’s mid-June, and I am still in Redwood City. I’m still homesick, and I miss Manila a lot. But when faced with two choices, I tend to go with the decision I will regret the least. To distract myself, I’ve been busy – beach, Broadway, yoga class, Steam, Magic, whatever I can find. Also, I’ve resolved not to have any more big trips for a long while. When I get home, I will see all my friends, nest, and make up for lost time.
See you all end of July!