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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Expat Diaries: Where Is Your Home?

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I intended to blog about something completely different today, but somehow this week has taken a turn for the worse. I’m not quite sure what’s going on, but I’m not feeling as content as I was determined to feel in the beginning of this month and you know what that means – intervention! And this time it comes in form of some Gratitude in honor of Erika’s Grad-itude 101 link up. Today, I just need to remind myself that I feel grateful and blessed to be here in Norway, but there are also some revelations that I recently had that I wanted to share with you today.

You see, when you’re studying abroad, you constantly have to introduce yourself to other people. And inevitably, one question will come up: Where are you from? It sounds simple enough, but if you have done some moving in the past already and it can be surprisingly complicated to answer.

When I talk to people who aren’t from Germany, saying I’m from Germany is usually accurate enough. But it gets tricky once I talk to other Germans. Here’s the thing: When a German tells you he’s from City X, then that doesn’t automatically mean he currently lives there as well. Often enough, you will quickly find out that he (only) grew up in X, but currently goes to university in Town Y in a completely different part of Germany. Confusing, isn’t it?

But it opens up the question: What is home? Is home the place I was born and raised in? Is home the city I lived the last couple of years and went to university? Or maybe even my new host country? What if I have lived in multiple places growing up? What if I have attended multiple schools? Sometimes, home is a really hard term to narrow down.

I think home means something else to everybody. For some people, it’s a physical place, for others it’s a tied to family and others yet describe it as a feeling that doesn’t have any physical manifestation whatsoever. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong definition for the term home.

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As a new expat, I surprisingly don’t find myself struggling with the term ‘home’. When someone asks me where I’m from I usually answer with my German university town. And it’s true. It’s where I started my Adult life, came into myself, found my love for travel and have been living for the last couple of years. But the town my parents live in where I grew up is just as much home to me. And though being in Norway has been a struggle for me at first, I slowly start to get in the mindset of this being my (new) home as well.

I can feel at home in many places and for that I am grateful. I realize it’s not the most straightforward thing that I currently feel grateful for, but probably the most profound one. Yes, I love the few days that the sun is shining for once. Yes, I love it when the grocery store has my beloved freshly squeezed Orange Juice on sale. But in the end, I’m grateful for the fact that Norway doesn’t seem so foreign to me anymore and I’m grateful for the prospect that one day I will probably be able to truly call this place my home. I’m grateful that I have started to adjust to my new place in life.

Life really isn’t so bad after all.

Where is your home?  

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  1. Ah, if you ever need anyone to talk to I'm here! Relocating can truly be a rollercoaster, eh? It's also interesting to turn this on myself and see how I've been answering it and I do find myself answering differently depending on who's asking!

    I can't wait till we both reach the point of being able to call our new places home :)

    Michelle @ Mishfish13

    1. Thanks, Michelle! I'm glad to have found someone in the blogging world that goes through the same as me! :) I'm sure our places will feel like home for us soon enough!


  2. Ah I know what you mean! I change my answer all the time... I guess now, living independantly here with my husband, and being registered residents, I call Koln home... though that'll change by next month ;)

  3. I'm glad that you're feeling more at home in Norway. And I'm sorry you've been feeling a little down about where you consider home. I can't really relate, but I can only imagine how hard it may be to define a certain place as home when you move around a lot. Even though I've moved a few times, I've always felt connected to the city I grew up in. I lived there for 18 years of my life, in the same house. There are so many memories there for me and naturally, that's where my home is. Technically, that's not my home anymore. Japan is, since I'm living here on my own, living off my own money. It'll be interesting to see what happens after Japan, since technically my home is my parent's home. I need to find a new place to live. I'm sure after that happens, I'll be really confused on what to define home as.

    I hope this comment made sense... it made sense in my head, but I'm not sure how it'll come out on the comment.

  4. Very interesting! In the US, I usually expect people to say where they grew up, since we consider that where we were "shaped". But your point on your adult life totally makes sense. I sometimes say I'm from/grew up in Houston, but studied in Austin, or something of the like.

  5. I love reading about your Norway adventures. I recently traveled to Norway... (see my blog post "Norway in a Nutshell"). We stayed in Bergen and visited The Naeroyfjord. The country is beautiful. ENJOY!


    1. Thanks, Kristy! I'm glad that you enjoyed visiting Norway! I can't wait to share more about this beautiful country on my blog and to experience more of the nature here! :)

  6. I've struggled with this recently as well. I was born and raised in a smallish city in Ontario, Canada. But for the past three years lived in Alaska. But now, living back in Canada, I'm in Toronto. What also complicates the situation is that while I was in Alaska, my parents sold our childhood home and built their dream home, and although their door is always open, doesn't completely feel like home. Very confusing. I now say I am Canadian born, but Alaskan grown.

  7. Melanie -- I'm so sorry I'm taking so long to get around to commenting on this! I thank you so much for participating in GRAD-ITUDE 101 and using it to help lift you out of a difficult situation. Because even if you are so blessed to be in Norway and it's amazing, it still is DIFFICULT to be away from what's familiar.

    In regards to "home," I think most people (including myself) think of it too narrowly. Home is more of a feeling... a feeling of comfort, I think, and safety. I've felt at home quite a few places myself. I think maybe language is lacking in defining home now -- maybe we need more words, especially now that people are more mobile than ever. Just like certain eskimos have like 100+ words for snow, maybe we should start having a few different terms for our homes... like our parent's house and then our college and then whatever...

    But I'm glad you can feel at home in many different places and that Norway is beginning to feel that way to you. Many hugs to you, Melanie! :)



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