Finding Your Home: Waking up an Expat

cc license, adamcnelson

How long does it take for the expat to wake up and no longer feel like an expat? Or does that day never come for some people? I don’t ask because I think I’m anywhere close to that day. In fact, I can’t imagine it. Next week I will have been gone for a year, and I have just begun my journey.

I’m curious how others define home. It goes back to the question, is home where you’re from or is home where you make it? Also, is home a physical location or do you think a home can be metaphorical, like a home you make with someone you love. Everyone seems to have different ideas about what home is and can mean.

If you had asked me a few years ago I would have told you that home will always be where I grew up, where my parents live, where so many memories were made. Now I’m less convinced. I’m young and have a lot of time to make new memories. I’ll always miss family and friends when I’m away but that will soon be true no matter where I go in the world.

One of my best friends from home wrote me an email that summed up the way I had been feeling about being away from home. “I feel like my heart is split between the continents, as far as Australia. I fear I will never find peace because I can never come close to having everyone that I love,” she said.When we are eighty and old and cranky will we look back and regret that we left our family for so long? For so selfish an endeavor? I am still not sure.

I don’t mean to come across as dramatic about being away. It was definitely my choice to move and I love living in Australia. That’s actually just the problem. As my friend pointed out, perhaps my issue isn’t finding home but rather that I might always feel divided between homes. No matter where I go, I’ll be missing somewhere or someone else.

Are you an expat or traveler — do you find yourself always missing another place?


5 thoughts on “Finding Your Home: Waking up an Expat

  1. When I was your age, I traveled all over North America, lived in Canada, and had friends from all over the world (This was in the early 90’s just as AOL was coming of age… Didn’t even have an email address, I digress). A very close friend of mine said one day on our travels, “It does not matter where we go, home will always be home!”

    With that, I have moved away from Delaware, Ohio many times just to come back to it. Who knows, I could be moving out to Kansas in the next few years!

    You will figure it out!

    Great post!

  2. I think it’s different for everyone. Australia is realllly far from the States. I think that’s the big problem for me. I maybe could handle living in London or even on the West Coast because it’s only a few hours away by plane and not as much money for airfare. I am also at a stage in my life where friends are having babies and my mom is getting older and it makes me want to be near the ones I love more so than in the past, which is why I want to go back in the next year or so. I agree that life is too short to not travel or live abroad if you get the chance, but it’s also too short to only see your family and best friends once a year.

  3. I’d need two hands to count the places I’ve lived around the world so my idea of “home” is a little muddy. Right now it’s Sydney, but it didn’t feel like it three and a half years ago when I first moved here, so there’s no guarantee that won’t change again.

    I think expats and travelers will always miss and long for certain places, though. It doesn’t necessarily have to be somewhere they lived, either. It can be somewhere they’ve only visited for a few weeks or a few hours – it really depends on the person and the place.

    I find myself missing Vancouver every once in a while. It’s a city in which I’ve never “lived” but the last time I was last there I felt like a local.

  4. Home will always be Sydney for me, but there are so many places I want to visit and want to live in that I don’t know if I’ll ever live in sydney again on a permanent basis. That does cause some uneasiness, but that’s life I guess.

  5. Great reason to have a giant wedding on an exotic beach somewhere and force all your friends and family from all over the world to come to you! This is my plan.

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