When people see how much I travel or when they learn I have been living around Europe for the past nine years, they always tell me how lucky I am. And it is true…I feel very lucky I have had this opportunity in life!

What they don’t know, however, is that being away from home isn’t always as beautiful and fun as my Instagram account shows.

Being homesick while travelling or – even more – when living away is completely normal. It’s weird! When you are home you can’t wait to leave, and when you are away you can’t wait to go back home. And it happens so fast: one day you are grand and living your best life, and the next day you are sitting there wishing you were in that not so special and boring place, but with your family and friends.

What to do when you feel homesick? Everybody has their own thing, but this is mine.

Before I joined the Clean Coasts team, I never heard about the “2 minute beach clean” campaign.

I come from a town in the Salento region, in the South of Italy. It’s one of those places with crystal clear water, white sand and warm weather all year around. One of those places where you dream about going on a holiday, but if you grow up there you can’t wait to finish school and leave. And so, like lots of other young people from there, I too left in 2011, so excited about exploring the world and about the new opportunities to come.

Torre Castiglione, Lecce, Italy

After moving around a few places, I finally made of Ireland my new home. After all these years, the excitement about living in a new place started to fade away and now the two or three weeks I can spend at home each year are never enough, I constantly miss my family, my friends and my beautiful sea and so many times I thought about moving back home. But I know it’s completely normal!

Like all the people who grew up near the coast, I have a special relationship with the sea: it’s part of who I am. And of course, most of my best memories from back home involve moments spent by the sea.

In particular, I remember this “ritual” I had with my family: before starting enjoying our day at the beach, we would look around and collect all the litter we could see in the area, maybe left behind by some fishermen or people partying there the night before. It was something so natural that I have been doing since I can remember, even when I was on the beach on my own or with my friends. Like us, I saw other people doing the same.

My latest #2minutebeachclean in Italy on last Christmas day 2019 with my family

When I read about Clean Coasts and saw the vacancy for the role I now work in, I learnt about the work they do and discovered the #2minutebeachclean campaign. And it made me smile…that was just like home!

It’s been a great year working with this team, where I could meet other people who love the sea just like me and even more, and I do, indeed, consider myself very lucky for this.

But obviously this sort of work doesn’t end when you leave the office at 5pm and it’s so easy feeling overwhelmed with all the negative environmental news we are exposed to every day that make you think that you are not doing enough. But there’s something so empowering and good for the soul about removing marine litter for the beach: you might not stop climate change, but you are 100% making a positive difference. And this feeling is so addictive!

A picture I took on Sandycove Beach, near Dublin, in Januray 2020.

Not only this. I love seeing the amount of other people doing the same when they are out and about, just like back in Salento.

So, for the past months, every time I feel homesick, I know what to do! I take my bag and my gloves, head to the beach and do my #2minutebeachclean. There are usually more clouds in the sky, the landscape might be different – although still beautiful and full of character – and the faces I meet are not so familiar… but we are all doing something for the same planet, right? And this makes me feel so much closer to home.