Wanderlust and Fernweh — by Conor


“Wanderlust” is a German word that found its way into the English vocabulary somewhere in the 20th century. It means “a strong desire to travel” coming from the German roots “wander-” meaning “hike or trek” and “-lust” meaning “desire.”

It is a feeling we are all familiar with, wanting a change of scenery, to cover new territory and seek new experiences. It is a feeling particularly close to home for me right now as I finalize my plans for my Senior Project, hopefully spending two weeks in Israel-Palestine learning in a hands-on way the nuances of the socio-political conflict unfolding there, as well as my final plans for college. This wanderlust comes from many sources but it is fueled by the ever-expanding notion that after four years here at Westtown, in the USA, it is time to break new ground.

There is another German word, now used in place of “Wanderlust,” which has fallen out of fashion in modern German parlance. This word is “Fernweh.” (pronounced “fairn-vay”) In English, we have the concept of “homesickness,” a strong yearning for the comfort of home; “Fernweh” is just the opposite, literally meaning “farsickness,” a longing for novelty and distance so intense it makes your stomach knot. This describes more accurately what I, and I imagine, other seniors are feeling right now, and I’m thankful to have the words to describe it. 

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