In my early expat days, I have asked this question from myself almost once a day: Where is home?
When conversing with my colleagues and local friends, I used to refer to my rental place as home: I am going home after work to pick up my gym clothes and then we meet for the class; and: I am going to my country for a visit as a surprise for my Mother’s birthday. During calls with my family, I used to say: I am coming home for a visit before Christmas.
Confusing, isn`t it? Let me roll out some of the questions, I have in mind, around this topic. Feel free to stop after the questions and write your own answers. It is a worthy exercise. Why do we say that we move to somewhere when we keep referring to our initial place as home? Shouldn`t it be home where we have moved to?
And if not than why do we say that we are moving to somewhere? If it is temporarily, why don’t we mention a long trip or a lengthy stay over? Is it easier to mentally digest the move when we still get to keep home as a fix and solid reference? Do we need the stability of at least one certain place where we can always return to? Is home a place or a mental retreat?
Yeah, I know. Heavy topic. That’s is why I left you alone for some moments, to digest the questions and mainly to lead you to contemplate on your mental model of home.
I have made my first move 8200km away from my birthplace and was planning on a year and a half stay to complete my university` practical training. Then one opportunity stretched into another. One short living-abroad-experience turned into eleven countries lining up (doing 12th just now, more on my page www.thefootloosecoach.com).
Home was my city where I was raised by my amazing parents – they say that home is where your roots are. Then home started to become the actual place where I was staying at – as another saying goes home is where you are. Some years later, as my subconscious and the number of loved ones and places left behind significantly grew, I started to believe in the motto home is where your heart is.
We all evolve through turbulent stages and so our mental and emotional model on what home means to us as an expat, radically changes. (you find many supporting articles here on The Expat Magazine`s website)
If you ask me today: Where is your home? I feel sure of the answer.
I have many homes and I have none. I can return to more locations which feels like home yet I don’t have to keep confined to just one spot. And now that home doesn`t need to be one physical place, I can instantly be safe, nurtured, settled and feel comfortable anywhere.
Home! I carry you and you carry me around.