In these Brexit-led times of political upheaval – the need to feel ‘home’ has never been greater. But what does the term ‘home’ really mean?
The classic ‘nature-nurture’ psychology studies of yester-year failed to give a definitive answer to whether we are born a certain way, or adapt according to our environment. It’s a bit of both! Likewise, wherever you live, you can’t help but adjust to your surroundings.
Little by little, you become different, shifting your perceptions and preferences. You pick up new words and new habits (plus a host of new friends). Even if you went back to the exact same old life, it wouldn’t fit any more, because you would have changed.
In A period of readjustment, Emma Raphael writes about returning home to the UK after living in Bavaria, Denmark and Germany. She has found that being ‘home’ but not living near friends and family disconcerting. But rather than call it ‘reverse culture shock’, she recognises it as a period of readjustment.
Jo from Intrepid Bebe calls it being an ‘ex expat’. She returned to the UK in 2016 after four and a half years in Australia. Jo writes: “I didn’t return with shattered illusions, and rose tinted glasses about ‘home’.” But despite her pragmatic attitude, she still needed time to settle in. “I left [the UK] in my twenties, young and free, and returned a married mother. Some old friendships just lift off where they left off, others turn out you’ve grown in different directions. I definitely underestimated the bedding in process, so if you find yourself in the same position, be kind to yourself and give it time.” You can read more in Becoming an ex expat aka back to the future.
Toni Hargis writes about preparing to move after amassing 27 years’ worth of stuff. In Keepsakes and mementoes – What’s the Point? she shares how her mum brought all her 18th and 21st birthday cards over to the States, from the UK. (“She also answered “Yes” to the security question ‘Are you carrying something for someone else?’ and has been regularly stopped and searched ever since).” Read her fun post to find out more about old Twix wrappers, childhood diaries, and how half of her wedding cards were from people who are now divorced.
Often, it’s family ties that pull us back home. French native Cécile from The Frenchie Mummy Blog has found that having a baby has made expat life harder.
She writes: “I am not going to complain. I love my life in the UK with Grumpy Boyfriend and Baba. I am a very independent woman. When I decided to land in London 8 years ago with two (massive) suitcases, I didn’t look behind me and what I was going to leave.”
But in her post, Why being an expat mummy is not always easy she explores the new emotions that have come into play. “Every time I talk to my mum, I can feel the sadness in her voice not to have her petit-fils with her or being able to give him a big cuddle right now if she wanted to.”
Finally, in Home, sweet home: Returning to New Zealand after 10 years, journalist and blogger Jacqui Paterson describes her move back from London. She writes: “Returning home made me realise just how different I sounded now too: while my Kiwi accent is no longer strong, Britons can spot it within a few seconds of me opening my mouth. But to everyone back home I sounded as plummy as Queen Liz which – while amusing – can give you the feeling you don’t quite belong anywhere anymore”.
Ultimately, though, this is a positive thing as she now feels she has two homes – one that she was born into and one adopted. Home is where the heart is. And home can be anywhere you choose.