Returning Home After Living Abroad

by Corey · 146 comments

Returning Home After Living Abroad

By Corey Heller
This originally appeared in Multilingual Living Magazine.

As many of us know and have experienced, living in another country changes you forever. You will never be the same and will never see things the same way again.  I mentioned this to a friend after having lived abroad for a year. She looked at me confused and responded, “Oh come on, don’t be so depressing!”

Yet, for those of us who have lived abroad, this is simply the way it is.

The first time I experienced what experts call “Reverse Culture Shock” was after returning home from a Year Abroad Program in Galway, Ireland. My home town, which before had given me a sense of comfort and belonging, upon returning seemed stifling and bereft of warmth. I moved about my days feeling that something was missing but I had no idea what it could be. I eventually came face to face with the starling reality that my home would never, ever again feel the same as it had before. I had sealed my fate the moment I had boarded that plane the year before.

I don’t think there is really any way to describe this feeling to those who haven’t experienced it themselves.  It’s a little like free-falling.  It feels as if we are floating aimlessly on restless waters.  We feel distinctly ungrounded.

What, exactly, is it that causes us to feel this way? Why is it more pronounced when living in a different country than just living in a different city? Does the degree of difference between our home country and the target country determine the degree of change we will experience upon returning?

Many descriptions of Reverse Culture Shock describe it as part of a continuum whereby eventually we’ll feel at home again in our native country and the vestiges of the “shock” will slowly wear off.

Although it is true that those initial feelings of strangeness have subsided, I still feel that something will never be the same even now, so many years later. What I constantly contend with now is a continual pull to go back; a pull to go back anywhere as long as it isn’t here. Yet when I am back there, I feel the pull to return here, the place I call home. It is as if I am living in a kind of suspended reality, never really here and never really there; restless.

The joy of having spent time in another country is that you slowly become a part of it and bit-by-bit one of its people. Our attention to detail is heightened and we make a concerted effort to understand and fit in until we become one with our new location.  What I have seen and felt and heard and smelled in each of the places I have lived has made me who I am, like a wine having picking up its surrounding elements.

I would never want the clocks to be turned back to the person I was before I set foot on that first airplane. Instead, what I want more than anything is to have my favorite elements from each country right here with me now. I want to have an Irish pub around the corner here in Seattle, full of laughter and music and incessant chatter. After all these years, I still crave the smell of burning peat in the air and delight when I hear an Irish lilt.

But I also want to have the sights and smells and family and friends from Germany and Italy and France. I want to experience Tasmanian joviality and mainland Australian kindness on a daily basis. I want to somehow piece them all together into a patchwork quilt of sorts; to wear it day in and day out to bring me a kind of multicultural comfort of my own making.

Ultimately what I have lost in hometown comfort, I have gained in international familiarity. Whereas once boarding an airplane was an amazing feat and arriving in another country 10 hours later unthinkable, I now feel a safe sense of deja-vu when we are snuggled down into our seats for our long flight. I have a pretty good idea of the sequence of events whereby we will get from here to there and I cherish this opportunity to head to my “other home” of Germany for an extended visit. And after being there for a while, I can’t wait to snuggle back into my bed in my home in Seattle.

Thus, the final question I ask myself is no longer whether I will ever have that complete sense of home again, that sense of knowing I belong in one place above all others without doubt.  I now ask myself how I can feel at home where I am at this very moment, in this place, with these experiences; each moment finding my way back home.

Corey Heller is the founder of Multilingual Living and the Editor-In-Chief/Publisher of Multilingual Living Magazine. Multilingual Living is the place where she shares her knowledge about raising multilingual and multicultural children. Corey, an American, and her German husband live in Seattle where they raise and homeschool their three children, ages 13, 11 and 9, in German and English.
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{ 142 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rea May 29, 2010 at 12:06 pm

So true, Corey. Sometimes it is a struggle to be present in your current situation and celebrate the beauty of where you are, rather than long for what you have left behind.

After 5 years in Spain I can’t wait for my visits “home” to Canada, but at the same time always feel slightly cheated when I arrive. It is never as wonderful as I sometimes imagine when I am having a tough day in Spain.

Now, home for me is wherever I am with my husband and son, in our crazy little culture that we have blended up ourselves.

http://notsospanish.wordpress.com/

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2 Corey May 29, 2010 at 9:54 pm

What a good point you make – that home IS with our spouse and child, wherever that is. I can definitely relate to that! Thank you for your reminder!

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3 Coach Nupur May 29, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Hi Corey,

I can completely relate to your feelings as I have undergone the same myself and reverse cultural shock makes you actually think that it can never be like before as the experiences make us grow rich and the horizons broaden. In fact there are so many people across the globe who are leading this kind of nomadic life and infact get so used to it that they would want to shift. I can also relate to moving to another country/place except original country of stay/origin because the things there never changed but you did.

Nice to be able to walk side by side with people who can relate to story like this. Thanks for sharing it.

Be Well
Coach Nupur

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4 Corey May 29, 2010 at 9:56 pm

I agree completely! Being able to connect with one another in this way is so important. The worst is feeling as if we are different, have done something wrong along the way, should have stayed in our home town and never gone anywhere because now we are so different and feel alone. Then when we hook up with others we realize how connected we all really are!

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5 S May 5, 2013 at 10:54 pm

I think it can happen even when one lives in a different city in the same country too, when the other place is culturally, linguistically different. I studied in a different state in India, that spoke differently, ate differently. I felt like an outsider there, for I didn’t speak that language much (English worked for communication) until well into my last year in college. I went back and felt like an outsider at home, because my friends who went to college there had a different lingo, different kinds of jokes, even had different timing and duration of vacations.

I think the reverse culture shock is largely because of how we romanticize everything about our home while being homesick and return to find that it isn’t really that rosy. Or in my case, having lived abroad for most of my adulthood, home meant someone else taking care of finances, bills, food, everything. Sure, I did a lot of chores but I wasn’t in charge. When I move back, I have to take charge and I am not sure how much I’ll enjoy life there. And it isn’t as if I liked everything about India while I lived there either. I know that my mind has conveniently forgotten it all now. It’ll hit me when I move back and not just visit.

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6 Colleen Trimble May 29, 2010 at 4:18 pm

Funny how no matter where we’re from, I think we all feel pretty much this way….I’ll never forget that first summer I spent in Spain as an exchange student 23 years ago…an experience that changed the course of my life. I ended up in Italy speaking Italian, but Spanish was my first love…Thanks for the lovely article that brought back so many memories!

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7 Corey May 29, 2010 at 9:57 pm

How wonderful to have both Italian and Spanish! And you are more than welcome for helping to bring back memories – writing it brought back wonderful bittersweet memories for me too. In fact, I wanted to jump on a plane and go back to Ireland and see how much it has changed from 1991.

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8 Barbara June 2, 2010 at 4:41 pm

This is so true. I noticed that it took me about 2-3 years to get used to my new country, the USA. I spent a lot of complaining about those “crazy Americans” with other German expats. Then somewhere between 3 and 5 years you reach a “point of no return”, where you feel more at home in the host country than the home country. Last year we went back to Germany for a 3 months sabbatical (after 8 years in the US). I noticed that I did the same complaining as in my first years in the US, just this time about the “crazy Germans”. It would probably take me a few years again to get feel at home in Germany. Unfortuantely, we can’t create the perfect world somehwere in mid-atlantic! Now, I enjoy spending time with my fellow German (or other European) expats who are in the same situation and can relate. And I try to bring as much of the positive aspects of Germany here as I can to create my own “perfect world”. The sad thing about going away and coming back is that the people you return to can’t really relate and it sometimes feels like your experience abroad is not valid or hasn’t happened.

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9 Corey June 5, 2010 at 12:22 am

Thank you for your comments, Barbara! It can feel so lonely when we aren’t around people who really “get” what we have experienced. But when we find them, it is such a relief, isn’t it? There is still a bit of sadness inside me that I will always feel torn one way or the other. But ultimately, I think it is a small price to pay for my wonderful family!

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10 Jim January 26, 2011 at 7:40 am

“I now ask myself how I can feel at home where I am at this very moment, in this place, with these experiences; each moment finding my way back home.” Exactly!

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11 Corey January 22, 2012 at 1:49 pm

You are so right, Jim! This is really what we should all be aiming toward no matter where we live and what we have experienced! Even those who have never traveled can feel out of place at home as well. Perhaps it is feeling strange in our skin that needs to be worked on. Thank you for sharing this reminder!

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12 Maureen January 26, 2011 at 10:29 am

They say home is where the heart is, and while it sounds very cliche, I do have to agree. I’ve lived in Wisconsin, Germany, Wisconsin, Switzerland, New Jersey and Switzerland. Where is home? Switzerland has become home since coming to live here the first time. Wisconsin has the distinction of being “home-home,” the place my roots are. Reverse culture shock came only after my year abroad in Germany. Any relocation since has just been an adaptation, because of the “been there, done that” experience. It will never be the same, because we are never the same people we were when we lived there before. We are never the same people we were five minutes ago. That’s the beauty of it: We’re growing and learning as individuals. (At least I hope we are!)

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13 Corey January 22, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Wonderfully said, Maureen! We are always growing, aren’t we? We are never the same people that we were a few minutes before – each new experience, thought, action changes us just that little bit more. I’ve found too that how I perceive the world around me is (1) in my control, and (2) doesn’t often match what others perceive. Knowing that gives me both a sense of power over my life and a relief that I am not in control of how others interpret what I say and do.

I love having more than one home! I love it that Germany and the US are places where I can belong fully and completely, having gotten to know them in such personal ways. Ireland to some degree but I never felt that I truly lived there. I always felt like a visitor.

Thank you for taking the time to share this!

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14 Cynthia January 28, 2011 at 2:05 pm

This post rings so true for me. I only spent 3 months in Germany, but it took me a while to get used to being back home (USA), and to this day, I still miss things and long for some of those same experiences. I am eager to set up another long term stay to give my family the same experiences.

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15 Corey January 22, 2012 at 2:00 pm

I totally know what you mean, Cynthia! I dream of living somewhere else from the US all the time. It is kind of like thinking about what kind of dessert I’d love to have after dinner (a smooth piece of chocolate… a chocolate sundae… a bowl of fresh fruit) each has its own sensations in my thoughts. I have to be careful, though, since it can make me feel depressed if I am not careful. I have to constantly remind myself that what I have right here, right now IS so very wonderful! It is the best for right now. (But I am already getting excited for our visit to Germany in the Fall – LOL!)

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16 Alejandro April 19, 2011 at 6:42 pm

Hi everyone!

I really like this blog, just the people were living abroad can understand the feelings and memories. I lived in the canary islands for two years,one year in Stuttgart (Germany) june last year i moved to London. i wrote a book about my two years in the canary islands in my mothertongue spanish, I come from Valencia. I will never be the same i think in diferent way than before i like to do diferent things and i understand much more people than i did before. I met hundreds and hundreds of people from over the world . I´m not sure about my future and i don´t think anyone can help me to choose the place to live “forever” i´m thinking to go back home next year and find a good job but i am scared to be there the rest of my live. I had summer all the year in canary islands, i was 7 months cold -15 º in Stuttgart and now i´m enjoying the spring-summer after a cold and rainy winter in London. I started to travel because i was ill for a month and i maked the decision to move to another place to find new experiences and motivations. i have thousands of pictures but not enough to describe how big was my experience . i live day a day i dont think too much in the future but what i know is how hard is going to be back home and understand the live i had before my experience.

best regards

Alejandro

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17 Corey January 22, 2012 at 2:10 pm

What an amazing response, Alejandro! You bring up so many important elements to this – especially the part about living somewhere “forever.” The thought of that kind of freaks me out. Being in one place forever sounds wonderful: same friends, same house, same neighbors, etc. I want to establish roots and be connected to place and people. But on the other hand, I want to feel that I will be able to discover all of those places out there when I am ready. But will I ever be ready? My husband and I think that spending something like 3 months each year in another country would be great (if we can figure it out financially). Maybe working on a farm in a different country each summer to earn our stay? Who knows.

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and personal experiences. It means a lot to all of us who know exactly what you are going through!

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18 Tracey April 26, 2011 at 6:29 pm

My family and I are currently living in Bolivia and have been for 6+ years. At the end of this year we are being sent back to our ‘home’ country. We are not very happy about it. We will leave behind a 20 year old son who is nationalising. We will take our adopted 4 year olds. I will need to speak Spanish to them instead of English to keep them from leaving it behind and our 18 year old daughter will go back to our country to study but not to stay. Where is home? I have always shifted from town to town but now it is something bigger – I have two countries, two cultures, two languages and two homes and the closest I can get to home is when all my kids are in the same place with me.
We are never the same,
Tracey

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19 Corey January 22, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Tracey, how did your move go? I apologize for not responding sooner! I totally understand what you are feeling and the worries that go with such a big transition! Where are you now? How is your family dealing with the changes?

Something that I noticed when my husband and I moved back to the US: the first year was hell for me. I cried and cried. I hated Seattle, thought it was the ugliest city I had ever seen. I hated the people here. Now I love living here. It took a year for me to make it home and now it is. I love everything about this city (except for the typical little annoying things). Making a place a real home takes time and no one can tell us how long it will take. It may take you 2 years, it may only take you 2 months. You will know when your new home really becomes “home” in the full sense of the word. Give yourself the time to grieve your old home and to be angry with your new home. That is natural. Grieving is something that has to happen before we can be open to what is new. We just have to make sure that we can stop grieving when we are done – sometimes we can get caught up in the grieving to the point that we can’t imagine life without it. That isn’t good either.

Thank you for sharing your heart-felt, honest comment! And please let us know how things are now!

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20 Darlene January 23, 2013 at 10:48 am

Hi Corey, thank you for sharing your experience of moving back to the USA. I am an American woman who has lived in New Zealand for the past 10 years. I have become desperately homesick for the USA and am planning to move back. I’ve chosen Seattle (I lived there about 20 years ago so it’s not entirely unfamiliar). A few years ago, I tried moving back to Hawaii (where I lived before immigrating to NZ) with my Kiwi husband, but we couldn’t full-time jobs there – so had no choice but to move back to NZ. I am taking a huge risk, returning to the States alone (my husband is staying in NZ so at least one of us will have a job until I can find one in Seattle – he would then join me there), My American family has passed away so I don’t have a support system anywhere in America anymore, I will have to make new friends and undoubtedly go through some reverse culture shock. But I don’t want to spend the rest of my life in New Zealand, so I am throwing caution to the wind, quitting my job here later this year, and just going for it. Its nice to know there are others who went through a similar experience and have sucessfully navigated their way through the huge challenge of moving back to one’s country of origin.

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21 luxy January 22, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Feeling the same here, you are not alone, unconfortable non belonging is balanced with international and personal satisfactions . But there are ups and downs.

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22 Corey January 22, 2012 at 2:19 pm

Yes, what you write is so true, Luxy! There are so many ups and downs – often what we are feeling right now, this second, is temporary (yet it feels like it will last forever). As you say, it is all a balancing act: nothing is 100% perfect, it is all about how we see what we DO have. The ups and downs are so worth it, wouldn’t you say? I hate and love the ups and downs all at the same time. It is definitely what they call a “love-hate relationship”! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! Your comment inspired me to head over here to respond to yours and some other long overdue comments. So wonderful to have this discussion with everyone!

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23 Tracey January 22, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Guess what?? – this has become a very long-winded, complicated and painful experience as our adoption took 3 months longer and we are still in Bolivia as our country (NZ) won’t let the girls in until they are NZ citizens 2-6mths (waiting for pre-approval so they can hopefully enter on a visitors visa 1mth). Our older daughter took a 6 month volunteer trip to India and is now coming back to Bolivia to study (it is her home). So we are wanting to stay here and wishing a job would come up and also packed to return to our ‘home country’. We came with two tweeners and leave with two preschoolers and the big kids stay here. We will never be completely separated from this country that we love as much as our own. (Feeling rejected by our own country). We are in limbo land – wanting to continue life here but knowing it is not possible for now. We will be back I am sure.

It is harder as we are not sure what city we are going to and if we will have old friends nearby or noone or what? I want a place that will support our spanish speaking with the girls. I know i will be sad and cry – I am leaving behind my life and will only have part of my family with me.

I can really relate to what lots of the responses have said and I am not looking forward to this experience, I know we survived/thrived coming here and I am sure there will be positives in the return, but I sense and am planning a lot of to-ing and fro-ing over the next few years. Thank you for your understanding.

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24 Corey January 22, 2012 at 6:30 pm

Thank you so much for taking the time to post your update, Tracey! How frustrating to be stuck in limbo – not here or there… wondering when and if! It is interesting how our children can’t help but feel familiar in the country in which they grow up (as you say about your older children), regardless of what our culture(s) are!

Being that your older children feel most comfortable in Bolivia (at least for now) it sounds like no matter where you end up, you will have a direct connection with Bolivia, at least through your older children!

Please keep us posted and good luck from all of us!

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25 Anna January 23, 2012 at 12:13 am

What a great post. Also lovely to read everyone’s comments. I love being a nomad, I’ve lived in UK, Bermuda, Sicily, Spain, France and short stays (few months) in USA and Canada.

I found Spain and Bermuda were where I felt most connected, comfortable, myself… Going back to England now is lovely but I am aware of all the constraints as well as the advantages. I am currently in France where it took me a very long time to settle compared to the other countries I have lived in.

I love being able to take off and make friends, “live” a new coutry and culture. For me this experience is one of the most interesting and fulfilling there is. I do admit on ‘bad’ days I can feel rootless and adrift with nowhere to call home… Sometimes there is an internal conflict with your beliefs and values and those of the country you have decided to make your home and that can leave you feeling destabilised and insecure.

However the benefits, the challenge, the delight in making new friends, discovering new outlooks, different cultures and experiencing all that can be found when exploring a new country is so exciting. It gives a vibrancy to life that I don’t think I would have found by staying in my original hometown so I wouldn’t change a thing!!

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26 Corey February 5, 2012 at 11:03 pm

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences, Anna! I totally agree with you about the waxing and waning of feelings – ‘good’ days and ‘bad’ days. It is interesting that France was once place where it took you a long time to settling in compared to the others. Is there any reason in particular? I found moving to Seattle to be extremely difficult. I really loved living in Germany (while at the same time longing for the US) and when I arrived in Seattle it felt so foreign to me and chaotic. Compared to the rather structured culture of Germany, Seattle felt like anything could happen (good and bad) and it frightened me. It also looked ugly to me after having lived in a city with brick buildings and sidewalks – everything seemed to match and fit together well. Seattle felt like a jumbled mess of different styles of buildings and wires everywhere across the sky. However, after a year I started feeling really comfortable here and started seeing the little things that I had missed originally. And now I love living here (but still long for Germany now and then).

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27 Chris July 20, 2013 at 11:06 pm

Hi Corey ! I moved a year ago from Europe in USA and I can say I really felt the difference between the cultures and people way of thinking ! I am a novice in English since it’s not my language but I improved it allot ! First month I wanted to go back because I felt like peoples are fake and they live for work work and work !

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28 Melissa Ferrin January 23, 2012 at 8:42 am

Having lived more than a quarter of my life in my adopted country–I find that I’m unable to unravel how much Mexico has changed me from how much time has changed me. When I last lived in the US I was a carefree college student. So of course I’m a different person now, but of course I’m also different from the person I would have been had I never left home.

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29 Corey February 5, 2012 at 11:27 pm

You are so right, Melissa! While living in other countries, we are growing and maturing as human beings. We will never know how that would have been different in our ‘home’ country. My husband and I talk about this a lot when we visit family in Germany – the last time we lived there we were students. Buying a house, getting ‘real’ jobs, starting a family, raising children – all of that has happened here in the States. But it would have happened over there had we stayed and overall many of the changes probably would have felt just as they do now. Becoming a parent feels amazing and life-changing no matter where someone lives! Thank you so much for sharing!

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30 Amy Van Vranken January 23, 2012 at 8:58 am

Very well said, Corey. I have had to help my two daughters through this in the months and years following their 6-month immersion experiences living with another family in France at the ages of 9 and 10. While it’s hard at times, if you ask them they’ll never say they wish they hadn’t gone so that they could avoid the pain of living apart from their second home. And although sometimes I feel guilty as a mom at having opened them up this sense of loss in their lives, ultimately I know they’re much richer, more human, for their experiences. And so are you. :-)

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31 Corey February 5, 2012 at 11:31 pm

Thank you so much for this reminder, Amy! We aren’t the only ones who feel this sense of belonging to more than one place: our children feel it as well! I will never know what it is like to grow up with this kind of identification. My assumption is that our children take it at face value as being a part of life. I realize that my children won’t have that experience as a young adult (as I did) of flying in an airplane for the first time when going on an Education Abroad Program while in college. That was the first time I had ever flown! My children have flown to Germany so many times, they don’t even think about it as not being a part of their lives. Part of me loves that and another part of me is sad that it won’t be something special for when they are older. I love that you included “more human” in what you wrote. That is the biggest part! Learning to live in another country makes us more human!

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32 Fabio January 25, 2012 at 4:00 am

Hello! I was born in germany from a german mother and an italian father. Then at the age of 7 i moved back to Italy and so i was grewd up with two languages and two cultures!Then at elementary and high school i lerned french and english and so now at the age of 31 i’m abel to speak four languages !This gave me the chance to find easly a favoulous and interesting job!! I reccomend to all new parents to teach 2 or better 3 languages to your childrens as soon as possible!!:-)
Fabio

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33 Corey February 5, 2012 at 11:34 pm

I totally agree, Fabio! What a wonderful experience that you had a chance to live in both countries (Germany and Italy). There was a woman in my German language class in Kiel, Germany who had grown up in Italy and one of her parents was German. So she spoke perfect German but didn’t know how to read or write it. She was taking the German language class in Kiel to finally learn that. I was so envious of her being able to speak it so well and of course she learned to read and write it with amazing speed. Raising our children with our languages is definitely the way to go!

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34 Ale January 27, 2012 at 9:53 am

Corey

I really enjoyed reading your post….totally true.
I am from Paraguay…but I have been away from my “home” country for a while. It started with a small trip, then the trips were getting longer… from 1 year up to 3….

I am a dancer and coincidentally my MFA project ( a year ago) was related to “being in transit”. The piece was called: Passenger, a dance theatre exploration of identity, relationships, and society from the vantage point of a foreigner in an unfamiliar culture. The work offered a different take on traveling and being in transit….but at the end my goal was to simply portray: “it all depends on us, we are the creator of our lives; is our body and our choices.”

I take the best I can from all the places I go…I love traveling, getting to know new people, cultures….and I am sure that all this experience has built my personality differently than if I never left Paraguay. Off course there are hard moments…but I am happy of having done everything I had…I am willing to keep enjoying every moment of it….traveling or staying in one place…

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35 Corey February 5, 2012 at 11:39 pm

Ale, your dance piece sounds amazing! I would love to have seen that! I did ballet for 10 years when I was younger and wish I still did some kind of formal dancing instruction: it is amazing how much we can express with the movement of our bodies (aside from the healing that can take place through it!). I love what you write about it all depending on us and that we are the creators of our lives. YES! I realize how often my thinking is what holds me back or sets me free. I can look out my window and think to myself, “If only we were in Germany.” Or I can look out my window and say to myself, “Look at that beautiful sky! I am so happy here!” Both of those thoughts are there – it is all about which one I feed. Thank you for sharing your comment!

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36 Juliana February 3, 2012 at 11:56 am

I’m so glad I finally find an space where I can relate myself with other people experiences. I left my home country Colombia almost 4 years ago and I have to say that it’s been a windy road with ups and downs and I genuinely never thought someone else could feel the way that I was feeling. It’s a mixture of feelings you feel happy, sad, guilty and very judgemental feelings that always find the way to disturb your day. I’ve lived in Colombia, Canada and I ended up in the UK in a very small village after travelled around the world “well just a small portion of it”. But now I look back and I realize that I’m so bless that I’m the luckiest person in the world and that I have no right to complain because all that I have is what I wanted and I want to have. I love where I live but to be honest as long as I’m with my husband I can live anywhere, my family is home for me.

Thanks for creating this blog Corey I think you are amazing and I think all the people commenting your article are unbelievably strong and thanks for making me feel not alone.
:)

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37 Corey February 5, 2012 at 11:45 pm

Thank you for leaving this comment, Juliana! I am so glad that you were able to relate to this post. I gain such a sense of camaraderie when I read all of these comments – we aren’t alone in feeling a little lost, a little adrift. Knowing that it is ok to feel this way is so important. I remind myself that is ok to feel sad, guilty and judgmental from time to time as long as I also remember what you wrote: “my family is home for me.” That is so true, isn’t it?

After my mother died at age 65, I went into a kind of frenzied panic. I think I was feeling that I had to hurry up and get things done before my time came. I started seeing a therapist and I will never forget what he said to me in one of my first sessions: “Go home, read a book, do the laundry, take a walk.” His point was that my mind was filled with 101 different things that had nothing to do with right here and right now. I wasn’t enjoying (let alone noticing) what my life was this very moment. I remind myself of this a lot and it makes life so much more wonderful.

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38 Suzie February 3, 2012 at 10:02 pm

This is so timely: I recently met up with an old friend from living abroad days, and even 20 years later, we both agreed it was the most important period in our lives as far as making us who we have become. I hope my own children will do the same one day and learn see themselves as citizens of the world, as well as the cozy hometown in which they have always lived.

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39 Corey February 5, 2012 at 11:49 pm

That is so fantastic, Suzie! I can totally relate! It was definitely one of the most important times of my life. I can’t even count the ways it impacted me positively (although at times painfully). Living abroad for a time extends us into a level of humanity that is almost impossible to describe. We are so comfortable in our little worlds that we think the rest of humanity things, acts and feels like we do. Then we go abroad and realize that our way of living is not necessarily understood or appreciated elsewhere – which is a good thing (although painful to realize too). And when we realize that the way others live has so many wonderful things about it too, we can’t help but come to terms with the fact that there is no one right way to live. There are simply many right ways to live! Here’s to being a citizen of the world in the comforts of our cozy hometowns/countries.

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40 Meron April 20, 2013 at 9:12 pm

I tottally appreciate the blog. Everyone have shared their experiences and I already feel like what I have been wanting to do with my children is legit. It really comforts me to see the heart of mine satisfied with doing what it thinks is great for my children. I want them to learn the culture, language and love where I grew up and where my ancestors are from. I struggled with making them have many homes; since once an outsider in one place, you become an outsider in other places. After reading the post from Corey, I feel that all the right places are the right experiences and a blessing to have my children experience different places, cultures and ways. l highly appreciate it.

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41 Xevi February 5, 2012 at 3:46 am

Hi there,

I just found this post through another one written in Spanish and referencing this one:
“http://www.reven.org/blog/2010/06/11/sindrome-del-viajero-eterno/” something like the “perpetual traveler syndrome”.

Thinking about the subject I remembered a reference in the literature you may remember. Think about the hobbits in The Lord of The Rings, how the journey changes them, they are always saying they miss home and want to go back there, but at the end of the journey and they finally return home, that place don’t feel as home anymore (at least for Frodo) and he can’t do any other thing but keep travelling. I remember reading the story many years ago, I wonder if reading it again I will find it has more to do with my own feelings.

Thanks for the post and good luck to all expats around the world!

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42 Corey February 5, 2012 at 11:54 pm

Oh goodness, Xevi, you are right about that being a theme in the Lord of the Rings!!! I hadn’t even thought about it! I too will have to read it again! I am so happy you left this comment! And I forgot about Frodo feeling that home wasn’t expansive enough for what he had experienced and seen. I wonder, what IS that which happens to us? Why do our hometowns now feel too small, to simple? It isn’t from a sense of arrogance that we feel that way. It’s a kind of longing for more experiences of newness and different-ness.

I have noticed that many hundreds of people have found my post from the reven.org post that you reference above! I would like to know more about that website and I wish I knew Spanish so that I could read what was written in the original. It must be an amazing post for so many people to be reading it! I am honored that reven.org included a link to my post. Clearly a wonderful group of people are making there way to my website and I welcome everyone with open arms! Here’s to living abroad and taking the chance of being changed completely and fully!

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43 linda@adventuresinexpatland.com February 6, 2012 at 12:18 am

‘what I lost in hometown comfort, I have gained in international familiarity’ captures it perfectly. Like you, the moment I got on a plane to live my first time overseas I was hooked. Had always known I’d study international affairs and work in that arena; also married an ATCK, and now live overseas with our two teens (one actually back in US for university, dealing reasonably well with repatriation and feelings of here/there/nowhere/both). We talk about these kinds of issues and I share the latest books, but in the end, to me Pollock & Van Reken’s Third Culture Kids is the bible for all global nomads/expats/serial wanderers, and the basis for good books that have followed.

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44 Robert February 6, 2012 at 6:57 pm

Hi Corey,

I think a comment was due, if only because of the people that have read the article on my website and have referenced it here. As I said, the honor is mine; your words helped give form to a lot of ideas I had and that I hadn’t quite materialized, though I had talked about it at lenth with a chosen few who understand that feeling themselves.

It’s great to know so many people out there who think similarly and who have walked similar paths. As it turns out, we all yearned to belong somewhere and now we can actually say that we belong to this great tribe of nomads. After all, home is where we are.

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45 Katia Novet Saint-Lot February 6, 2012 at 9:27 pm

Yep, yep, and yep ! I also wrote about this a few years back.
http://katianovetsaintlot.blogspot.com/2008/09/expat-musings.html

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46 Martin February 7, 2012 at 1:05 am

Spent a school year in the USA when I was 14. Being half German half Spanish, I have lived for months in Germany, Switzerland but most of my life in Spain. The feeling of not belonging has always been with me. The perfect country to live in is in my head, I guess :)

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47 Kitty February 7, 2012 at 3:03 am

I have been feeling this way for a long time. I live between France and Australia. I moved to Australia when I was 12, and I am now 24. Apart from the regular trips back and forth, my passion is travelling, encountering new cultures, languages, foods, smells, sights. However, this has stopped from ever committing. The only thing I have managed to get right is studies through online learning that have lead me back to Australia (for now). I leave home to go home. The question I get asked most is ‘where is home for you?’ I never know what to reply. People are jealous of my lifestyle, but I’m jealous of their stability and routine. Yes, my life has many advantages, but the grass is always greener on the other side. If I stop too long in the same place, I feel stuck, and start making plans for a new destination. But as many people have already commented, home is where the heart is, and my being single is of no help for me. I can feel the solution, the need for a partner to become my home and finally feel stable in some part of my life. But how easy is it? Not so easy, most people admire my ‘nomadness’ but not many are willing to live that way. I could not live without ‘the world’, but it’s too big for my liking and a dilemma.

But all in all it’s nice to have others feel the same way (I knew I wasn’t alone in this), and more to have written down, black on white, so clearly.

Thank you.

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48 Elisa March 6, 2012 at 9:30 am

Hi Kitty!
I just felt for a moment that it was me who wrote this ;)
100% identified!

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49 Kat May 30, 2014 at 9:08 pm

Same here,

i can totally understand and this life can lead to so much confusion. I sometimes feel like i have created a monster with people who i love all over the world and i can never be everywhere at once. Totally restless but at the same time longing for some sort of stability. But what can you do … i guess its just the way we are :D

all the best for you guys

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50 Dazed in Galway' February 7, 2012 at 8:31 am

I could relate to your post as I’ve lived abroad and then returned home. However, now abroad is home.

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51 Amina January 6, 2013 at 10:27 am

Oh my GOD! Those 2 sentences just summarize my life. I kinda or should I say I REALLY do feel the same way. I’ve been looking for words on how to explain it, since I really need it on my research to prove to my class that “It is possible to miss a country that isn’t my own.

My teacher told me to put quotations on something like this. Well, I supposed I shall write it as (I’ve lived abroad and then returned home. However, now abroad is home. – Dazed in Galway)

Thanks, by the way. ;D

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52 Melinda February 8, 2012 at 12:00 am

This post is a perfect description of my cosmopolitan ego! Truly touching :) I’m glad I found you :)

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53 Isabel February 8, 2012 at 7:29 pm

So true

I am 28 years old, and i have lived in 3 countries and traveled around 15 countries. My home country is Colombia, in my 20s I went to France where I lived for 6 years, then England for 1 year and now Colombia for 1 year and ½. My new destination is Quebec for a residency. I feel the need to move and travel and i just cant be really stable, I get bored in the same place! This is something that brings me a lot of difficulties in my work. I hope Canada will bring a little bit of everything. The sad part maybe is the feeling of not feeling that you have a specific identity, and being criticized in your home country, because you are no longer like them, because you are different and a mix of cultures and people can’t understand that.

And yes, I also miss my friends, the polish, the czechs, the french, the indians, the romanians, etc, but they have a huge place in my memories. I miss the order, the security and tons of other things!

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54 Liz February 16, 2012 at 12:17 pm

Thanks for this great insight. More people need to understand this feeling of being suspended between cultures and homes. My parents took me to S. Korea in 1966 as a ten month old girl, and we lived there until I was 16 years old. I was ok in the US for a couple years, but in my twenties I struggled. I literally grieved my home country. For me, the ability to go back and visit (I go every few years) has been my healing. And every time I visit, the time in between visits is shorter and shorter. I find this sense of loss hard to explain to those who have not gone through it – and partly for that reason I’m writing a memoir of sorts about our Korea experience. Loss, and deep thankfulness for such a rich experience is always something people like us will carry, hidden behind faces that look “home” in America. I hope my book can do justice to the depth of feeling behind these cross-cultural experiences.

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55 Lia February 16, 2012 at 9:00 pm

Ohhh nooo, i currently feel this sensation.

I began to travel for studies in 2006.

In 2009, i had to come back home permanently,and my life is not the same since 3 years ago.

I feel that the only thing or person that make me rest in my country, is my mother, because i feel that not belong here anymore.I don’t have friends, a full time job, social life, anything, so i need two things to feel like at home again (my real friends and boyfriend) and i think that i want to feel at home again and i will back in this my foreign but new home now.

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56 Stephen Choi February 17, 2012 at 4:04 pm

What a lovely piece of writing!
I find that it is difficult to explain to people – it is difficult to express to someone who is for the most part ignorant of what it feels like to have ventured beyond the safety of where they grew up!
People I know go on holiday and despite the change in culture and climate are really not in a new place at all. It’s like they have “left the nest” but not the tree.

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57 MYRIAM March 5, 2012 at 8:33 am

Corey,

First of all THANKS for sharing your thoughts and writing this GREAT article.
I completely agree with you. I have been feeling this way since I started traveling around the world but I always thought it was due to my will of getting to know new places, new cultures or even to find somewhere to belong to.

However, this lack of hometown comfort has increased after coming back to Spain from the states. I lived there for 3 years and I keep thinking if I should have stayed there or not… The truth is that my mind ,and my heart, are still out there… somewhere… I already applied for another job abroad, this time in Canada. It´s like a hunger of discovering new cultures, places, people… and can’t help it. An emptiness that can’t be filled in here, in my country… I love my family and my friends, I really do but I have the need to fly away again and get soaked by new experiences in other countries.
I felt so relief when I read your article!! :) my friends and family here can’t see it.. so frustrating!

What is irrefutable is that I am who I am thanks to all these unforgettable experiences I had around the globe. Nothing may open your eyes more to understanding humanity than traveling. I am thankful for having had the opportunity to meet all these amazing friends and shared wonderful times with them wherever it was.

I love having this international familiarity you mentioned in your article but at the same time I am afraid of not being able to feel “at home” anywhere…

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58 Guido March 8, 2012 at 3:33 am

Excellent text! It was a little bit difficult for me to understand that ’cause I am an spanish speaker, but with google I did!! haha!
Although I still never travel abroad, I have the same sensation each time I leave home. I love travel, I love make friends and meet everywhere. In a less degree, it is the same sensation that you have describe before very well .
I have the sensation to make from each place my place, and bit by bit introducing me slowly in a new community, in a new society, in a new culture, so I felt identified with your text.
Maybe the soul of the traveller does no have nation, no religion, no language, and so we feel ourselves as we are citizens of the world. All places we have been before belong to us, and at the same time it is not ours. The same occurs with the people we have met. I think this is because we have a great heart and because we are so sensibles. I thought it would be easy to explain but as you can see…
Chauu :)

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59 Susanna Zaraysky March 15, 2012 at 9:21 am

I love your wine metaphor. I used to work in the wine business and I appreciated the idea of “terroir”, belonging to one’s land and representing it. However, as I was de-rooted at a young age and have lived in various countries since then, I’ve come to see myself as a multirooted wine. However, this leads people to misinterpret me and think I am supposed to be someone who I am not. Familiar smells of food and beverages are my most basic pulls to my feeling of being “at home”.

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60 Ebru March 15, 2012 at 8:56 pm

Oh Corey, you have written such a good article. You have summed it up so well.

I spent half of my life “overseas”; living in 3 countries other than my home country. And there might be a possibility of moving to another country, yet again, this time with my husband and children :-)

I always miss the countries I have lived in; friends, food, smell, the seasons, the languages and all the small details. As you say, they are part of me now and I carry them in my heart :-))

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61 marina March 29, 2012 at 9:56 am

I was happy to read your article. I feel all this feeling and even have developed a bit of anxiety after living in 5 countries. I will never be the same, I dream and have dreams of always going back to my original Buenos Aires city, but in my dreams I always have a sense of not beng content and wanting to come back to Toronto, like I don’t belong anymore. I thought it was just me feeling this way. I feel I should be rich, so that i can live in all the places I have once enjoyed so much.

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62 Emily April 10, 2012 at 12:49 pm

“What I constantly contend with now is a continual pull to go back; a pull to go back anywhere as long as it isn’t here. Yet when I am back there, I feel the pull to return here, the place I call home. It is as if I am living in a kind of suspended reality, never really here and never really there; restless.”

Couldn’t think of a better way to describe this! So dead on with that feeling!

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63 Gr eg@Travel Finland Blog April 20, 2012 at 10:24 pm

A real article worth thinking about.
I am a British Expatriate who left the UK to move to Finland 23 years ago
I have settled ib´n Finland well even after the initial culture schock
I tried to return to the UK after 10 year s living abroad and it was a disaster.The UK just never lived up to the lifestyle and quality of life I have in Finland
In 1988 when I left England,crime,srikes and society faigs were rife
On my last visit to the UK for a bereavement the situation has worsened
Thanks,I WILL STAY HERE IN hELSINKI fINLAND

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64 Astrid April 25, 2012 at 1:14 am

Wow… Thanks for this post! You really can’t imagine it when you haven’t experienced it… I felt so lost when I came back home from Spain! Everything in Belgium seemed so out of place and irrelevant: people stressing out over the tiniest things, the rapid pace of life I wasn’t able to connect with anymore… It took me a while to adjust and even now after 4 years, it still feels like yesterday walking through the streets of Málaga with an entire ‘family’ from 20 different countries.

The Erasmus experiences has opened my eyes and mind in so many ways. Not to mention true friendships I found abroad. Can’t wait to meet up with everybody again :) !

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65 Tamara June 19, 2012 at 5:46 am

I have to say that I’ve finally found people who struggle with the same or at least similar feelings like I do. I’m austrian and I’ve been abroad for about 5 years. I’ve lived and worked in Spain and Argentina and I’ve travelled quite a lot. I got to know my husband in Spain, who is actually brazilian and we got married in 2010.
I absolutely loved my job, but something happened in the last year: I started complaining… About how much better and how much more organized Austria is and so on… I couldn’t handle the lousy accomodation facilities anymore (to safe money, we stayed where it was cheapest). Our young marriage seemed to break down. So my husband assumed that we should try to find stability in my homecountry, if this was going to help me and our relationship.
The thing is, that he also loves his job and I try to respect his culture and love to his profession, so in April 2012 I went home alone. He went to Brazil and will work in Argentina and is supposed to come to Austria in November. I won’t see him before…
So now, I’m back where I thought I wanted to be, where I thought would be the best place to build a family together and I totally freaking out!!!
I have days when I get really depressed and could cry all day long. I feel that my friends don’t really understand what I’m going through. Neither my parents – although I know they are trying…
I have to find a job, so that my husband will get a visa in November. I will need a stable salary. I already found one, but I only managed to stay a week. The last day in the office I spent secretly crying in the bathroom – that was the day I decided to quit and to tell everyone that the job wasn’t for me, which wasn’t actually a lie.
I’ve spent the last four years working in sports with tourists, outside, and it was so much fun. So working inside in an office is also hell of a change for me.

I feel like I haven’t arrived yet. I feel like having to deal with so much pressure. I have friends calling who want to meet me, who I was really looking forward to meeting them, but I neglect their calls. It just feels like work to me, just feels like having to justify myself again.

Today I have one of those bad days… You all know them. And in spite of that I feel a little bit better, just to know, that I’m not alone. Thank you – to all of you. Especially to Corey! This blog will now be one of my favourites!!!

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66 Maria June 24, 2012 at 7:15 am

Hi!
I am so happy I found this blog. I am an Italian and lived in the US for 5 years.
I know it is not nice to say but my Italian people/family make me feel depressed.
They won’t make a change never, they are lazy and are used to complain without making any decision, I always feel uncomfortable when I try to express my hope for a change…and now with the financial crises people have very low energy and in my own country I am considered old by society just because I am 35, can you believe it?
I feel a woman full of energy and able to work. Sometimes I think to go back to the US but on the other hand I realise it is hard another move. What can I do? After 4 years I still feel a little bit stranger in my own country, no one really understand my point of view. ;-) Thanks for sharing

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67 Tamara June 26, 2012 at 2:04 am

Hey, it’s me again. I was just wondering what kinds of jobs you took when you returned to your homecountries??? I really find it hard to find something that would fit…

Thx for your coop.

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68 Visit Finland Blog June 26, 2012 at 7:03 am

One of the reasons many Expats do not wish to return home!
However,I have learnt new languages and this alone can lead to a new fullfilling career

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69 Joshua July 20, 2012 at 3:13 pm

Corey,

Great blog….of course, only those who have shared a similar experience can truly understand. I can relate to your experience, Ireland. My overseas journey started with an international exchange trip, through my university, back in 1998. I spent an amazing summer with fellow students, riding around in a little van, studying and experiencing. At the time, I did not realize that trip was only the beginning.

In 2003, my roommate and I decided to take a two week getaway to England, Scotland and Ireland. Upon return, I decided that I had enough…not sure what it was but it enabled me to sign a teaching contract and venture off to Korea, for a year. Little did I know, it would be a six year venture taking me to China, Japan, Cambodia and Thailand.

It was a mixed bag of experiences. BUT…what you said was correct….”freedom”, “starting over”…and yes, walking into a grocery store was an adventure in itself. When I say, “mixed bag of experiences”, it was truly that….”It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”. And, it does bring elements inside us to the surface.

It has been three years since I returned home and I have never felt as if I, in fact, returned “home”. There is not a day that goes by, in which I have hopes to simply leaving everything behind…to stand in front of the kids (students) again…to go on a trip and see my sunset on Koh Chang, island in Thailand. To simply walk down the street on a Sunday and just take in things…that is an adventure. I did not realize it at the time but I was actually living life….good and bad.

I’ve never really fit back into the mentality here, back in the states. Nobody understands, or even cares to really know what it is like, being in that state of mind. Granted, I’m not the most social guy…but….I tend to notice all the things that I cannot do here, as opposed to what I was able to do, there. The huge and subtle differences are sometimes overwhelming.

No kids, not married…well, except to the Army National Guard. So, my mobility is limited. Shoot, it is the prime factor in which I am going to graduate school, this fall…so I can pick up on my journey that I left, three years ago.

Great post, Corey.

Cheers to you and your family.

Joshua

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70 Nostalgia August 25, 2012 at 11:57 pm

I love your article, it is like you wrote this on my behalf. I have been back home for a year now after living in the US for 2 years, I lost that sense of ‘belong to’ my hometown, my friends, family, and places. I do not appreciate them as I was before and sometimes it is self-conflicted, I feel guilty of not wanting to live in my home country anymore. I feel like I have no home exactly what you described. Whenever I could get on a plane for a short travel trip abroad even for a short period of time, it gives me a sense of home, an international familiarity. I always want to go back to the US, but after reading your experience when you went back to Germany you do not feel like home either, that makes me feel like it could happen to me ( I am planning to visit the US next year or so). Thank you for such a great article. At least I know I am not alone.

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71 magnus September 5, 2012 at 5:53 am

Hi

So glad I stumbled upon this article.

I am German born, moved to South Africa aged 10, and moved back to Germany at 26 for work. Now a year later I am planning to go back to South Africa, as I missed that home of mine. Now I am scared as I love both countries and makes the decision so tough.

Very true words of always longing to the other side and putting it in such a great perspective.

I thank you. It does help a bit with the decision on what to do :)

I am still unsure though, but its comforting hehe

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72 Mariangeles September 27, 2012 at 6:10 pm

Hi everybody!! I’m Mari from Argentina, it is really nice to find that I’m not the only one with the feeling of being a stranger in your own country, it was really difficult for me to try to explain to friends and family for what I was going through.
I started my journey planned to live only three months in New Zealand and ended up staying for two years, I met my boyfriend Ben (from Germany) there and now we are both living in London with plans of move to Tanzania next year.
I’m focusing in learn German as soon as possible because we want to raise are childrens in three lenguages German, Spanish and English.
Thank you very much for this site, it is very inspirational and helpfull.
best regards

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73 Gabriel October 15, 2012 at 9:44 pm

I haven’t been home in almost 10 years. I’m going back next month for 12 days with my younger brother, I don’t know what to expect. I feel really excited but at the same time I don’t want to go?

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74 mazharuddin October 21, 2012 at 4:00 am

for me my country is my life my people , my places everything i cant find this comfort in any other country ,or in any another place .

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75 British Expatriate Finland October 21, 2012 at 5:24 am

I understand your situation
As an Expat for 24 years I have had my moments of indecsion.Was I happy in Finland or go home to London
I chose to stick where I was in Helsinki and now I know I made the right decision
I believe we all have to make a choice at some time in our lives.Once done,stay firm to it and adhere to your decision
If we change all the time we will never really settle,always having that wonderlust in our heart and souls
This is not good.Maybe you need to take a good long look at yourself,your likes and dislikes,can you feel comfortable leaving your freinds foe quite some time etc,etc

I am sure once you can sit and truely understand your own needs,you will feel far more comfortable wherever you settle

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76 eve December 3, 2012 at 11:46 am

going through the same thing and i hate it!!.i went to school in canada at the age of 13 and got used to it for 10 years up until i finished college.I went there as an international student from africa. I learned to adapt and grew up doing things on my own and eventually i liked it and built so many memories. My parents wanted to switch me over to the u.k for school,i didnt want to and missed my plane on purpose because i loved my life in canada. Soon i finished my degree and had to come home to help with the family business.financially am better of here but as far as lifestyle and interests go,i want to be in canada with my friends. its sad because i dont enjoy living at home with relatives coming over and having nothing in common to relate to or even friends. i sit in my room alone because am the only one who understands me. my parent like to plan my life which and so they think they know whats best for me…what do i do?!?!?

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77 Marita December 13, 2012 at 10:38 pm

I think once you live abroad you’ve pretty much ruined that simple “home” definition for yourself. Because now you’re working on making another home somewhere else and the concept of “home” becomes confused. Home for me is definitely where my family is, but the hardest thing I’ve had to acknowledge is that my daughter’s first home and birthplace is in a different country from mine. This means that now the definition of home has become even more discombobulated! (great word, no? :) ) You know what I mean: relatives in all corners of the world, different languages, lots of travel etc.

Sometimes I do long for that simple definition, that simple fact that where I am will always feel like home. When I go back though to the turning point where I actually moved to another country I remember that I just had to leave; I had to see more of the world in order to feel home anywhere at all. What I’ve learned from leaving is that I need to feed my heart and soul and my brain first before I can be comfortable and feel home in my own skin. Going to another country and gaining perspective gave me that, and like many here, I wouldn’t change this for the world even though it’s hard sometimes.

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78 julia December 15, 2012 at 7:00 am

Hi,
Even though this article rings true, people- like me- from mixed backgrounds often grow up with confused ideas of what home is, or have several homes, or always feel they are a little apart( not ina bad way) anyway. So leaving , travelling, living abroad feels like home. Maybe I am just searching for my ideal spiritual home and now there is a little bit of it in many places. I guess I create more of a feeling of belonging the more I go along my nomadic life, because I suppose that is where I feel I should be: moving, changing , meeting new people, learning new languages… And maybe that is the true gift of a multicultural upbringing…

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79 Susan December 15, 2012 at 11:06 am

When I read this article back when you first posted it, I was powerfully affected by your words. Rereading it, I am still moved by it, as was my 11 yr. old son when I read it aloud to him. You captured both the joy that comes with our adventures an ocean away AND the melancholy that sneaks up on us from time to time even years after leaving our beloved adopted countries, especially at holiday time when thoughts of Christmas in Bern, Switzerland are as pervasive as the smell of anise from our homemade springerle cookies. I recently met a woman at the local grocery store when I heard her speaking German to her child. It was so good to hear and speak German in person – not on skype. Sometime the longing can be overwhelming! But the joy I feel from having had these experiences is always, always worth those times of longing. These experiences abroad made me who I am and I am so grateful to have been able to share them with my family while we were there. It may be a while before we can return to our adopted home in Switzerland, but it is always close by in our hearts. Thanks for putting all of these complicated and powerful feelings into words! Frohe Weihnachten!

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80 Lauren B December 21, 2012 at 5:39 am

Thank you for this. I’ve just moved to Amsterdam from Redmond, well, four months ago, but, as I’m 16 and a junior, I started looking for colleges. I’m planning to go to school for art, so I looked at Parsons, Cias, but I eventually got to Digipen. Which is in Redmond. A 20 minute drive from my old house, two minutes from the Climbing gym, 5 from the movie theatre…. I spent 15 minutes crying and looking how close it was to all I had known all my life. I want to go back so badly, but I’ve realized that it won’t be the same if I go back.To continue IB, I’d have to go to a different school than I went to with all my childhood friends. I would be one of the only Seniors who can’t drive. I would have a whole different perspective on everything! I feel like I’ve grown up, and I don’t feel like I belong anywhere now. I don’t belong back there – none of them have gone to my international school. I don’t belong here – I don’t speak Dutch, I’ve never moved before this year, I have different opinions. I guess I’m looking for advice – does it truely get better? Ever? As Christmas nears, I’ve realized that I don’t have any friends – the ones back home have forgotten or gotten mad at me. The ones here don’t know the real me. I don’t know what to do…

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81 Alex December 22, 2012 at 10:07 am

Hi Lauren,

I do not know if my advice is valid, but as it is Christmas, and because i feel I have been through (and going through still) maybe it is nice to hear from me :) Ive been in tears all day because I have just come home for Christmas for the first time in 2 years, and I feel completely lost, until today I did not realise that this is how peopple feel. It feels even harder feeling that you have changed so much that your family makes you feel strange.

I left my home in the UK, 2 years ago, and ended up in Sweden. It took time to settle, and I cannot say I am truly settled now, but by having these new experience at your doorstep everyday, the different senses you feel, smell, see, hear compared to what you were used to at home, you will grow as a person. I promise. My advice is to be yourself as much as you can you, you have no need now to be someone else or pretend to be something you are not. By being yourself, time will create your world, your new life style. The fact you do not speak Dutch should not matter, I understand how you can feel like this, its a culture shock to move, but you moved for a reason, and by being yourself you will find wonderful friends that will become your family whether you speak dutch or english. My friends in Sweden still complain at me for not speaking Swedish, but they love me really!! i hope :D

Things will work out for you, things always do, but you cannot control how you feel… It is sites like this, and by talking, and by taking advantage of these wonderful experience that could come your way.

I have no doubt, that moving to another country will expand your mind, just remember (as I found out today) that you are on your journey now, and when returning home it could feel like the family and friends you knew are on a completely different train on another universe. It doesnt matter how much you try to explain to them, they just do not understand!

Stay Positve, though I am being hyporcritical as I am miserable as hell today :D

You will have your good days and bad days, but it is tough when your first make the move. Just go for it. If you ever need anyone to talk, myself and many other people who have read this site, I am sure are willing to advice and comfort.

Take Care

Alex

a.arquati@hotmail.co.uk

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82 Komal January 30, 2013 at 9:14 pm

Hi Alex,

Are you going to stay in the U.K. ? I have decided that I am going to travel for a bit.
I was going to apply to do my Ma, but that will wait until september.

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83 Komal January 30, 2013 at 9:08 pm

Hi Lauren,

It will take time to adjust and make new friends, but believe me when I say this they will become an important part of your life in the future. When I lived in south Italy, I had no choice but to learn Italian. Once, I started to learn I was able to communicate better especially with locals in the area. I practised in bars and cafes which reinforced my self esteem. This experience made me grow as person and possibly shape who I am today.

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84 Liz December 23, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Hi All,

My husband & I lived in New Zealand for 4 and a half years. We bought a house in a great area, had two dogs, and finally had twin babies. We enjoyed our life to the max and had a really wonderful time. We were happily living in Christchurch when the earthquakes struck. After the third severe earthquake this day last year we made a decision to leave regretfully. We had two six month old babies to care for and their safety was our priority. We moved back to Glasgow last March. We are in the same flat we used to live in. Our dogs are with my inlaws as we have no room for them. We are trying to settle in but it’s very hard. The weather in NZ meant we were out most days. Here I am going from one indoor place to the next with the girls for a different scene & for something for them to do. My husband is restless also. We are considering moving again either to NZ or Oz if a job arises. We had such a good life style out there. Its much different here…the place, climate, people, diet, etc..

Has anyone got any advice to share. It would be much appreciated as we are torn between quality of life for us & our children, proximity to family ( although they are in England and Ireland) and our happiness.

Thanks & Merry Christmas to all ;)

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85 Amina January 6, 2013 at 11:26 am

Greetings to er’one,

I’m a Senior student (studying in Riyadh) now and is planned to (yes, I must say is planned to since I’ve got no choice) finish my college degree in the Philippines, my own country. Yes, I am a Proud Pinay, but I’ve lived here in Riyadh since I was 9 y/o. So kinda, felt at home here. More specifically adapted to this country. Since I was born here but transferred to the Philippines and maybe it might be true that this place calls for me that I’ve returned here again.

Last 2011, We had a 2 months vacation in the Philippines and I felt more imprisoned there instead here. Yes it was right that HOME is where your family are, but for me it’s kinda confusing since my 2sis and 2bros and some close relatives are in the Philippines while my Parents and small sibling are here in Riyadh. I wouldn’t deny that I am so thankful that my family and friends in the Philippines tried to make me feel home. And I was so sorry that I always tell them that I want to go back to Riyadh immediately, I never got the time or idea to tell them why, cauz I didn’t know how.

And now this april I’ll be flying to the Philippines and finally leaving HOME (I can’t even call Philippines as my home;/ I sometimes feel ashamed of myself) and going to have to face a lot of adjustment in making or should I say trying to make Philippines my home again. But still, I’m still hoping on coming back here in Riyadh. But I think it would only make it hard for me to focus on my studies.

And just awhile ago, my English teacher gave us a RESEARCH project and this IDEA just came up since I thought “Could it possibly be that I am not so willing to leave Riyadh” but when I was leaving Philippines my heart was racing with excitement to lie back again to my bed in my HOME. I am so thankful, Especially to you Corey for sharing your experience that made a lot of us express the unexplained feelings of the like us. And of course it’s definitely a huge help in my RESEARCH PROJECT.

Thank you so much everyone.

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86 Komal January 30, 2013 at 8:43 pm

Excellent post. I have returned to England after living in Spain for seven years. I thought the transition would be quite easy, but I am suffering from extreme bouts of anxiety. I told myself, I need time to adjust but lately I just want to leave and return to Madrid. I find the way of life here very strange. Also, I miss sharing experiences with like minded people. I love my friends here, but they do not get my mind set. I often find the conversations quite boring too.

Does this get easier? And how can you make it more smoother. I think I have lost my confidence.

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87 Lilian February 17, 2013 at 3:31 am

Hello
I am so glad I found this website! I have never felt more alone in my life, I am chilean and have been living in London for 6 years, my husband’s mum is also chilean, but he was born in the UK, only been to Chile for holidays.
I have always wanted to go back home, we did consider it for while, but I think my husband is scared of not being able to adapt to the culture and find a decent job, since his Spanish is not that good.
My family and friends are all back home, and I have had the hardest time living here, From having a very good job back home, I had to start from scratch with the language, back to waitress and so on, I have meet hundreds of people, who I made very good friendships, but eventually they all leave, never see them again, from being raised in the outdoors , I have had to get used to the rain and the darkness, which depresses me so much, I’m always at home now, don’t really want to do anything any more or see anyone, I am 30 and we still don’t have children for the same reason, I feel in limbo, emotionally and professionally stuck, I know is in my hands to decide, but I don’t want to leave my husband because I love him and want to have a family with him ,neither want to continue neglecting myself and feel unhappy most of the time..I feel I have no way out..please someone what do I do??? thank you!!

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88 Sahara May 1, 2013 at 4:25 pm

Lilian, lo mismo me pasó, seguí a mi esposo por tres años para que él viviera su sueño profesional en otro país y yo no conseguí en todo ese tiempo realizarme profesionalmente, así que al término de tres años le dije que quería regresar a mi país y que esta vez él tenía que ceder, ya él tenía una gran experiencia profesional en su CV y era mi turno. Si tu esposo quiere verte realizada en todos los ámbitos, también entenderá y te seguirá hasta el fin del mundo, el amor no puede ser egoísta, ya estuviste apoyándolo por 6 años es hora de que vivas tus sueños. Un consejo, es mejor que viajes sola primero, que busques un trabajo estable y que tengas realmente la información de cuánto va a costar vivir de nuevo en tu país. He visto parejas -los dos desempleados- en un país nuevo y el sueño se convierte en pesadilla. Así que adelante en esta nueva aventura, pero recuerda ser inteligente ¡riesgos calculados!. Buena suerte sahara.muller@yahoo.com

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89 Sinead March 16, 2013 at 8:20 pm

I moved home from living abroad and while it’s taking time to settle in, one area that I’m truly struggling with, is regarding my friendships.
I don’t have any interest or energy in maintaining some of my friendships. I feel very bored and lack interest. I know it sounds terrible and perhaps it’s the wrong choice of words, but I just can’t think of anything else.
When I chat with my friends, I just feel so uninvolved, so uninterested……..
I feel terrible but I just don’t want to be friends anymore.
I do miss living abroad and if a job opportunity came up, I’d be gone in a heartbeat.

I never thought I’d feel this way and you know, it’s a pretty good feeling to have the confidence to know I can make it where ever I go.

It is such a life changing thing to do, to move abroad and think everyone should do it!
Sinead

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90 Komal March 17, 2013 at 4:55 am

Hi Sinead,

I agree with you completely. I have noticed that to. Also, I have terminated some friendships since I returned home. I realised it is better to be distance, also if they don’t bring any value it’s better to move on and make new ones

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91 Michael March 31, 2013 at 7:51 am

Very good post. I found it when I am contemplating a move back to the USA. I have lived in 9 states, traveled abroad for extended periods, and now live and work “permanently” in Germany. I guess I am a traveler by nature. I love the USA, but when I go the States for family events I notice how much I have changed. Living abroad, in a situation where one has to deal with the day-to-day realities of life, is a life altering experience. Even more-so when no-one speaks English.

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92 Lisa April 4, 2013 at 6:35 am

Corey,
I wish we had blogs and the modern internet 23 years ago when I came back from my study abroad in England. It would have been wonderful to be able to have someone understand what I was going through since my words to friends could not communicate my internal conflict. I have since made my peace and have fond memories of everywhere I have lived and instead of dwelling too much on the regret that I had to move somewhere else, I think with wanderlust of new places that I still would like to visit and live. I hope that anyone who is feeling the confusion of “reverse culture shock” will read your blog and realize there are many people out there that feel the same way.

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93 Seb April 4, 2013 at 5:49 pm

I’ve been feeling reverse culture shock ever since I came back from Japan as a part of my degree. It’s such an intriguing and different country, and I feel like I really fit in (eventually) after getting to know the locals in my area and getting involved in a wide array of social events. Added to that, my first real work experience (i.e. not just working in a bar) was in Japan at a SME making electronic foot massagers and other massage-related machines. I felt a real sense of camaraderie with my co-workers there and I felt like I had a purpose. I had a great part-time job and met so many fantastic people.

Then I came back to England.. I already knew England was a dull place but living in such a vibrant place with such an amazing culture really brought it home that England is an extremely boring place to live in if you have lived here all your life.

Perhaps I’m just somebody who gets bored easily.. or perhaps I just really like to travel and see new things. I’ve felt like there’s something missing ever since I came back and my grades at university have suffered to some extent as a result!

There’s no guarantee that I’ll ever have a reason to go back to Japan (aside from a week-long holiday or something) so I really need to get myself back into a frame of mind where I can enjoy living in my home country.

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94 Okobe April 4, 2013 at 7:31 pm

Hi Seb, I totally understand what you are going through. I studied in Japan when I was a student and returned to my home country NZ after the year finished. U remember asking the same questions and feeling similar emotions to what you are going through. It took a while, but I got used to life back in NZ and thoroughly enjoyed the remainder of my student life. Just give yourself time and things will work out. After graduation I actually came back to Japan and have worked here for the last 10+ years. If you really want to come back, I am sure you can find a way!

I am now in the process of making a move to Australia. I am sure i will have the same feelings as all the people above – but its nice to know that there are people experiencing the same emotions and I am able to share my experience.

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95 Arjo April 13, 2013 at 9:43 pm

Thank you for posting such an wonderful article that helped me to connect to others going through similar feelings. I too, could never really pin point the reason for the restlessness. I moved overseas with my husband and kids and for 4 years, the kids and I would return back to our home ‘Canada’ to visit family/friends. I always felt like the ‘foreigner’ when I would return home. When I would be having a bad day in my foreign country, I’d be missing home like anything. Would be waiting for the day when we could all move back and live in our ‘home in Canada’ that was rented out. When I would be in Canada, I would be slowly gearing up to return back overseas cuz I would be missing certain things about that too…like my husband and friends. I always felt like I was missing out on so much in Canada…but when I would get here, it turns out that so much had changed. Friends had moved or moved on, family had moved on aswell and basically life just moved on while I was away. Or maybe I changed and couldn’t related to them anymore?? Since we were overseas from year to year, I would always be itching to go back after the year. Last year, however, I returned to Canada because my father was ill and 5 weeks after being in Canada he passed away. Three months after that my husband came to visit and started to talk about getting a divorce. Relationship with family had changed a lot over the years too since we were not in Canada. I found myself completely in a tailspin, wondering where I belonged and didn’t feel connected to anything. Now faced with the grief of 2 of the most important men in my life. During the year, however I did get to get a ‘fill of Canada’ and do all the things I felt I was ‘missing out on’ and had my kids experience a lot of Canadian things. However, during the year, I also saw that things had changed a lot here too…people had changed, and specifically my family seemed different. Dad passing away made me feel like the glue was not not as strong anymore. I have been teeter tottering between going back overseas to see if my marriage can be patched up or staying back in Canada and trying make a life here again, but as a single parent. Living overseas difinitely changed me for the better, and a part of me wants to go back even with the risk of things not working out with my husband. But there is that concern that the article pointed out so wonderfully that when you are there, you want to be back in your land of origin, and when you are back in your land of origin, you want to be back overseas where you were ‘growing’. I agree with what another person mentioned, that ‘home’ is where your children and husband are. If I have a marriage to go back to I think I would be feeling that way now, that home will be where my husband and children are and where we can make wonderful memories together. I’m sorry for going on too long, but the Universe has dumped quite a load on me this year and I’m praying for strength and guidance to make the best decisions for myself and my children.

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96 chris April 25, 2013 at 8:56 pm

I absolutely know this ! After 8 years away from Scotland in Australia and time spent in India, I associate less the place as home but more where I happen to be.

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97 Elisabeth Strout May 6, 2013 at 2:43 pm

So very true. I experienced this after moving to the U.S. as a pre-teen, and spending the next few years depressed that we had left French Canada, then after returning from a short trip to Kenya at age 15, I spent the rest of my teenage years my heart aching unbearably to return to Africa, and after finally moving to Egypt to get married, I fell in love with yet another country, and was terribly saddened to leave it after a couple years, and return to the U.S. (where I am now) for even a few years. Although being married helps somewhat, because home truly is where the heart is, there will always be that melancholy longing for somewhere else, that only a fellow traveler can understand.

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98 Sonia May 8, 2013 at 2:54 am

Your post touched my deepest feelings at this preset moment of my life, feel so related to your words and toughts, I came to the place I am hoping to make my family life better as my husband was born here and me and my little boy came to settle down as a family with him for the first time in 3 years of his life but after 4 months together me and my partner realised that distance and cultural differences wasted our relationship into the point of break up. I´m struggling with sadness of losing my marriage, solitude, a new language, new country plus the decision of staying here as a single mother or going back home to a place that is getting harder on day by day violence and unemployment but stil my beloved home country where my friends and family are.

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99 Christopher May 10, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Isn’t it an awfully confusing feeling, a real sense of being lost in familiar surroundings and a lack of understanding from others. I travelled for 6 years in 4 different continents performing a variety of jobs that I would never dreamed of having and fulfilling so many “once i a lifetime” experiences multiple times. I’ve been back for 6 weeks and have no goal or direction.

Two weeks ago my craving for adventure saw me leave England for a Job interview in Wales, only two hours away, where I broke my arm cycling the mountains of snowdonia. Now in my mother’s house in England, in the cultureless town i which I was raised I am at the most pivotal moment in my life. All I know is I cannot stay here, but now at 28 fear that without a career I could ruin a decent life. I also believe a career can quite easily be the end of an amazing life, but when should we stop? Is there a life for an eternal traveller?

I know those here can never understand it, I feel like all those years may even be wasted as I can no longer share experiences. What did you all do when you came back, i mean i have a degree, im sure I could set up something, but im free and single. Anonymous advice anyone?

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100 Tamara May 11, 2013 at 11:38 am

CHRISTOPHER – you have no idea how much I feel for you and how much I understand you! I’m having the same thoughts and doubts as you have – except the broken arm.
You are surrounded by people who will never understand you. At the moment I’m trying to get a job abroad again – my dream is to get a job in Miami. Fell in love with the spirit there, when I was on holidays two weeks ago. I spent 5 years abroad and was working most of the time in seasonal jobs. I’ve learned so much in life experience matters!!! But there are few people who want to see that as something important in terms of professional career.
Well, as I’m sending out CVs, my parents have no clue about my plans. I haven’t told them, because they don’t get my spirit. I will tell them once I got a job. I hate lying to them and I feel bad…and worried… And lots of people think I’m crazy to wanting to leave again this wonderful, stable country (AUSTRIA) to work in something like in a hotel while at my age of 30 I should be having a stable job, stable relationship and place of living…

Sometimes I think my thoughts and dreams and doubts and fears – they will tear me apart….

So, just wanted to let you know: YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!!

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101 X May 11, 2013 at 9:55 pm

Hi! Can someone give me an advice?

I’m from the Philippines and my family is there. I just moved here in L.A last March 2013. I actually decided to transfer here just to give it a try and work here, since I am a citizen here. I also decided to come just to escape all my problems back from home, like arguing with my parents, and i just broke up with my ex too.

Now, it’s been a struggle, I’m having a hard time finding a job, I miss home, I miss my family (especially my nephews). I’m 25 now and I feel like my time is being wasted.

Should I go back home?

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102 M May 13, 2013 at 9:34 am

Corey, a friend of mine just sent me a link to this article. I am currently going through the same feelings, and I truly feel lost and stuck somewhere in a world where both homes exist. Everything you talked about is just so true, exactly what I have been going through and I really think no one would understand until they have gone the same thing. Right now I feel so lonely, I have spent 2.5 years outside my home country studying, I made great friends so close that they became my second family. I had to leave when all of them stayed back. I came back a different person and sometimes it feels as if something is wrong with me that I am not able to adapt again. It hurts so much. I am glad I found this article, it literally said everything I am going through right now.

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103 Thomas Smith May 29, 2013 at 8:06 am

I have been searching the web for some time to try and get some perspective on “where is home” . I am English and have lived in Spain for nine years – in February this year my wife, best friend and soul mate died of Breast Cancer at the age of 56. We had been married for 36 years and I spent the last five weeks of her life looking after her at home after a tumor had broken her back. She died one morning when I was with her and the pain of loss I feel is numbing. My feelings about where home is now are confusing, because I feel an immediate and strong pull to go home, but a home where few family survive and where I haven’t lived for many years. In Spain I have some wonderful neighbours and friends at the Cancer Charity that helped me – with my wife – they have treated me like a son. The house is on the Med coast with fabulous views of sea and mountain, its tranquil and safe. So why the pull to a place and to a people, as already mentioned that would appear alien to me? I know its too early to make a big decision like moving, but I just don’t understand this inate fear of “settling”. It must be something in me – I just don’t know………

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104 chris crossley June 16, 2013 at 9:07 am

hey I’ve really enjoyed reading this blog and seeing that other people feel the same about the situation. I’m currently living in Australia and have been traveling asia and making a life out here in oz. I am forever thinking of home and has in someway made me unappreciative of what i have achieved and accomplished since i decided to leave over a year ago. I came out with an ex girlfriend of 6 years and things didn’t work out. She now has gone and back into “our” old routine hanging out with old friends etc, I’m leading a complete different life and knowing that i will be going home within the next year is putting the fear into me. I’m still only young at 23 but alot has changed for me. Will i fit in with the same people again…. probabaly not, i don’t know! Can be very confusing!

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105 Elaine June 22, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Dear Corey ,

I have been working at macao around 1 year ~ miss my home ~ malaysia ~ so badly ~ wanted to leave tis boring city n move on ~ but dun dare to step out from the wall ~~ Im scare to change ~ worry bout my future ~ should I take risk n challenge life or stay n live in a boring n stable life ? Im so confuse my dear ~ Im 23 tis year & I feel like Im wasted one year oversea ~~~ Should I back home n move on ? ><

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106 Alice June 27, 2013 at 7:23 am

Hi everyone,

I really enjoyed reading this post.
I just got back to my homecountry, Belgium, after spending one year abroad (Boston and Barcelona) and I’m having a really hard time getting used to “reality” again.
I had such an amazing time these past months, especially in Spain, travelling around the country, learning the language, meeting tons of different people everyday… I’m finding it really hard to accept that this year is over and I now have to focus on my life, go to college, study and more generally enjoy what I have here.

I can’t help making other plans, doing researches on Google in order to find possibilities to study in Spain, thinking of ways to move there definitely… the thing is that my boyfriend is Spanish and I’m so worried about how we’re going to keep up the relationship with the distance and our studies… but even besides my boyfriend, Spain is such an amazing country, people are much more smiling and happier than back home (The weather is definitely one of the reasons, right now I’m looking at my window and the sky is grey and depressing).

I think that one of the reasons why I feel so bad right now is that, when I left for Boston, with this whole year abroad ahead of me, it just felt like my whole life was going to change. I felt that something big was about to happen to me. These last months, I felt like a different person, or more exactly I felt more “myself” that I had ever felt here in Belgium. And here I am, back home, and it feels like nothing changed at all, and I’m back to my old self. Sorry if this sounds kinda cheesy or something, but it’s really how I feel.

Anyway… any advice, anyone?
Thank you very much for reading me :)

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107 Izzyd June 28, 2013 at 5:42 pm

I was looking though the web while trying to make a decision and fell on this site…
I moved to the USA when I was 22 for an internship and then stayed on for 9 years. When I initially left, I missed “home” but my mother had passed away recently so it already wasn’t what it used to be. I basically spent most of my adult life there then 2 years ago I came back home. I live I’m Canada which is not very far, but in Quebec which has a very different culture. For those 2 years I keep on not feeling at home here anymore. I have old and new friends but somehow when I need to talk to someone I always reach for my USA friends. I feel like I don’t really belong here. Now I have the opportunity to go back to the USA in the same area I was in and I’m pulled towards this, but I am scared that I will then miss what I have here (mostly my brother and nephew being close). It is so strange to feel closer to friends you made abroad than let’s say my dad even. Or to think and prefer living in a language foreign to my maternal language I grew up in… I hope whatever I decide I find some closure in making at decision! It is nice to see other people have similar feelings

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108 Jeffrey Nelson July 1, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Great article! I agree as well – it’s different when you move around and “unground” yourself. I have moved around the country, however unfortunately not out of the country… yet. It is similar, as I basically live in a different world at home with my wife and son. I am essentially in two worlds – Spanish and English – all the time. It’s weird to live in the suspended reality you talk about. Weird, and exciting!

Jeff

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109 Carlos September 13, 2013 at 8:00 pm

Thanks Corey! I have recognized myself in each one of your words. I was born and raised in Spain but also have left a piece of my soul (so far) in Germany, Ireland (O, Ireland) and Mexico. Now I know I’m not alone every time I miss my former and happy life in Dublin and the brothers and sisters I left behind, always pursuing that ideal life. And would never come back, sure thing. Never regret.

All the best,

Carlos

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110 Jaynn September 21, 2013 at 6:41 am

I really needed to read that today. I’m 22 and came back last year from Vietnam, where I’ve lived for a year and a half. I lived in a small town and even though it took me a while to ajust myself to the culture, it just felt like home. I live in France now (born and raised) and I’ve been missing “home” for a while now. I worry everyday about not finding a place where I would belong. And France isn’t an option.
I am a little bit of all the places I’ve been. I got Vietnam under my skin.

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111 Ágatha November 11, 2013 at 9:28 pm

Same thing for me with Guatemala :(

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112 michelle brown September 22, 2013 at 11:08 pm

please can anybody help me , i am an english women who has been living aboard for the last past 30 years both my grown up children who are also english want to return to england to live but who and want can i do all my relatives in england have passed away longing to go back home can anybody give me some suggestions , any link thank you so much for reading this small note god bless england

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113 Cheryl Waldron October 23, 2013 at 2:29 pm

Hi everyone, I’m hoping somebody out there can help me. I met my boyfriend in Canary Islands while on holiday 9 years ago, he’s Portuguese, I’m English. After 3 years I moved out to live with him. Recently we have split up, his decision, now he has a new girlfriend after 2 weeks.

I moved back to the UK but only lasted 10 days, just felt I didn’t belong there. All my family are there & I’m 51 years old. I moved back to Fuerteventura, now after 2 weeks I can’t make a decision as to were I want to be. One day I’m happy to go back to the UK to be near family, even down to booking my flight, then the next day I want to stay in Fuerteventura, it’s just a problem when I see my ex I get upset & angry. I’m so mixed up as I’m just not sure were I can make it work anymore. Anyone out there with any ideas please …….

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114 Ágatha November 11, 2013 at 9:32 pm

I think you need to stay with yourself in your country, as me ;) It is difficult but we got stronger! I am 25 but I know what you feel! Go ahead!

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115 Wendy November 11, 2013 at 3:59 am

That just pinpointed my feelings exactly. I’ve been back from my three month stay in france and I will never be the same. But nobody I know understands this feeling! When I was away, I missed home sometimes and was excited to see everyone. But coming home, I felt like I came home to nothing. Here where I have lived my whole life feels so needless and boring compared to the home I miss in france. People are happier there, simpler living and daily enjoyment is not a part of my home society. I must return. Life’s too short

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116 Ágatha November 11, 2013 at 9:22 pm

Hi Corey, thank you so much for sharing this feelings.
I found your article because I was searching what is this I am feeling right now!!. 11 months ago I came back after living for a year in other country. I just feel nostalgic for many days… I aquired many habits (food, preferences, places) and I do not want to change that. I want to have a lot of handcrafts that make me feel like is I were there yet… Somedays I think I would never feel my country as my country again…I just want to go back to my “new home” ! Do you think it is possible I could overcome this?

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117 Maksims November 12, 2013 at 1:23 am

I’m a very sensitive individual. After 4 years of cold and rainy winters in London, I began to ponder of how my return home would be like. Home… suddenly the proverbial “grass on the other side” became blindingly green. I guess I just got tired of my job, my life, and I know I will never become a part of the fast culture that becomes more and more artificial with every day. I miss the dry climate, the sunshine in winter, the tall pine trees, the blue lakes and rivers, I don’t miss the people much though, they’re all alike.

It’s nice to have these thoughts, the intangible beauty of it…

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118 Olga December 8, 2013 at 8:57 pm

What a great site. Thank you Corey and great to read everyone’s replies. I’ve just returned ‘home’ after 14 years away and in that time got married and have been blessed with two children. Have been to original home in Toronto for 3 months, hubby is still in London awaiting sponsorship. Not sure though where we belong but you can torture yourself with back and forth thoughts. Am really trying to live in the moment. The kids have adjusted well so far but until
hubby here it feels quite temporary and transient as we might need to
Move to where we find jobs. (Also another stress/worry is finding jobs). I believe home is where you are physically-it has to be otherwise it’s so difficult to exist on a day to day basis. It will feel easier I know once my hubby is here. Sometimes though I wonder if we should relocate to another city in Canada as I’m not sure if once you leave after so long away the feeling of ‘going back’ is very natural…..anyway I think my post is probably all over the place and contradictory but accurate as to how I’m
feeling in this time of transition. It’s not easy folks is it? We can only do the best we can. I love your quilt analogy Corey. Happy thoughts to you all.:-)

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119 spence December 18, 2013 at 5:32 pm

I really enjoyed reading these comments. I too have had similar experiences and want to know if I should one day return to where I was born.

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120 Carena December 23, 2013 at 1:11 am

Hello,

I can relate to this post… but where is the guidance? :'( I just got back from my study abroad of what feels like yesterday.. but it’s been almost 5 months that I’ve been back “home” and I’m still not happy. I’ve become really isolated in my room a lot. I miss my host country so much.. Also, I fell in love while I was abroad and keep in contact through Skype everyday.. This long distance relationship is killing me emotionally. He is supposed to come in January but because of financial reasons he may not be able too and even if he does come.. He can only get a 90 day visa and will have to go back.. and then what?? Is this something I should just walk away from? Maybe that is a factor in me not healing and becoming adjusted to my home culture again. I just need some advice from people who are somewhat able to relate to this. I just feel completely alone because there is nobody here who can relate to me in this situation. On a positive note, I found this post and I am happy for that..

Any advice on how to feel happy again??

Thanks

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121 Carena December 23, 2013 at 1:13 am

Hello,

I can relate to this post… but where is the guidance? :'( I just got back from my study abroad of what feels like yesterday.. but it’s been almost 5 months that I’ve been back “home” and I’m still not happy. I’ve become really isolated in my room a lot and I used to be really outgoing and social. I’m just attached to my bed and that’s it.. But it makes me feel miserable. I miss my host country so much.. Also, I fell in love while I was abroad and keep in contact through Skype everyday.. This long distance relationship is killing me emotionally. He is supposed to come here in January to be with me but because of financial reasons he may not be able too and even if he does come, he can only get a 90 day visa and will have to go back.. and then what?? Is this something I should just walk away from? Maybe that is a factor in me not healing and becoming adjusted and happy in my home culture again. I just need some advice from people who are somewhat able to relate to this. I just feel completely alone because there is nobody here who can relate to me in this situation. Also I have no girlfriends in the city I live in now. So that helps in keeping me isolated. On a positive note, I found this post and I am happy for that..

Any advice on how to feel happy again??

Thanks

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122 Angela December 23, 2013 at 7:47 am

I had the same experience. If you want to talk about it write me. I hope you feel better. ANGELA am32710@gmail.com

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123 Kerry January 15, 2014 at 9:15 am

I lived in Paris for 9 years, London for 2, and Madrid for several months. I’m from Buffalo NY. I moved back “home” 4 years ago and the pain of not living abroad has not subsided. My life isn’t nearly as interesting and neither are the people here in Buffalo. I feel such sadness and emptiness sometimes. I really believe I was meant to live in the UK forever but because I cannot get a visa I know I cannot live there again. It breaks my heart. No one near me understands because they haven’t lived anywhere else, some here have never left the state or city. They do not want to hear me talk about it either. Their response is “move somewhere else of you’re not happy”.It’s not that simple though. I will never be the same person that I was before I moved. My experiences were invaluable. I cherish the people I met along the way. Unfortunately I can never be fulfilled by the simple life that I had before moving and now live again because of everything I learned.

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124 Leandro January 24, 2014 at 5:42 am

Hi Corey,

Your article is perfect!

I am from Argentina and I have been in London for 4 years. You article states exactly what I feel here and specially when I go home. Now when people ask me how I feel and when I am goin to go back, I just show them your article.

Thanks

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125 Erika February 8, 2014 at 8:46 pm

This speaks to me on so many levels!

I just got back from studying abroad and this piece really put into words what I’ve been feeling inside; a feeling my friends here could never understand.

Thank you.

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126 Ellen February 13, 2014 at 1:04 am

Corey, Thanks for your post. I notice however that you moved from one western Judeo-Christian country to another western Judeo-Christian country, like most of the people who posted comments. Also, you chose to go there. Perhaps if you had gone to a country that was vastly different, and if the choice had been more or less imposed, your experience of returning to the US might have been different. Having lived in Taiwan for more than 10 years, I have become used to it; I even appreciate its nice sides and make the most of it. But even though my home is here, I never wanted to come here and so I am not a part of it, I do not speak the language much, and if I could move my family back to France tomorrow, I would not hesitate a second. And I know what problems my country has (sky high taxes, lousy service…) but the benefits of a clean environment, great art and culture, time for the kids to have fun and do sports, not to mention fantastic food, Paris and celebrating Christmas, far outweigh anything else. But, there are no jobs in France, so Taiwan it is!

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127 Robert February 17, 2014 at 4:21 pm

Wow, magnificent article. What an intriguing situation. I suppose coming back to ‘reality’ would be so difficult when you have perhaps given yourself permission to ‘live’ a little while in a different country.

Perhaps it is that you allow yourself to be more open to new things, exploration, and living outside of your comfort zone, and when you return, you have the at-home mindset try to take over again, which is very different from the freedom you may feel being abroad, no matter how much you made that place abroad your home.

A stealing of this joyousness, a battle between new habits and old, adventure versus a sad return to the norm…

Thanks for sharing, very thought provoking.

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128 Martina February 18, 2014 at 1:37 pm

Dear Corey,
Thank you for you poetic article.

We have always been telling our kids that home is where mom and dad are. And I can definitely say that moving with my family makes me feel home in any new or old city much faster that it would be without it. Just having the nest that we take with us.

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129 Frederika February 22, 2014 at 1:42 pm

I have just returned to the U.S. after being gone for four years. Before that I had been gone just a year at a time. I’m not happy being back in this culture and find that I agree more with people from other countries about what’s happening here than I do with the people around me. I am much happier living in other countries and in big, metropolitan, multicultural cities. I look forward to leaving this country again.

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130 Andy March 15, 2014 at 11:55 am

Hi Corey, I’m not sure if you’re still checking this post but I thought I’d like to say a few words anyway.
I just returned from a 3 month holiday in Europe (living in Florence mainly and doing a language school) I travelled with my girlfriend of 3 years. We initially planned to stay for a year but due to a problem with my visa I could only stay for 3 months – she’s an Italian citizen and has remained there because it has been her dream to live there and speak fluently since she was little. I guess what I’m trying to say is in the last few days I was excited to see my family when I returned but now I’ve been home and gone through all the photos with them I feel empty.. Partly because I’m missing my girlfriend but also partly because now I’m back I don’t have anything I’m really passionate about the first morning I was walking around the house unsure of what to do with myself – because before I left I was saving for the trip and had goals etc. now I’m just back – my trip was cut short in a way and I feel so out of sorts.
I guess I just need to give it time and plan another trip eventually
Andy

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131 Sanjaya May 28, 2014 at 8:37 pm

Dear ,

I am totally agreed with what you said here. I was in japan 2 years as a student . I did study there culture and language there. also i was with a Japanese girl over there .but suddenly i had to come back to my home country (sri lanka). I still missing some part of my life.. i feel like i am a kind of lost . i came back to sri lanka when it was 2010. Now its 2014 … almost 4 years over. but still i feel like like i miss japan so much .also i miss who i used to be. now i live like no hope…I really like a totally desperate person.different from other sri lankan..anyway hope it will be ok one day…Thanks for shearing your experiences ..

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132 Cristina July 5, 2014 at 12:57 pm

I’m so happy I found this. I just got back from a 6 day stay in Ireland. Once I boarded the plane coming back I started to feel this overwhelming sadness. I walked through my front door I just started crying off and on. My mom had no answers so I came to the internet. Reverse culture shock. It makes complete sense!

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133 Naomi July 28, 2014 at 6:14 am

Exactly what I needed to read today. I have been back in England for little under a month, after 8 years away (Aus/NZ). It was my decision to return for a number of reasons, and seeing my home country through rose tinted glasses made it easier to finalise leaving my friends, my job, my life there. I was doing ok until very recently and now I can feel a sense of worry come over me. I am single, in my 30’s, and have no idea what kind of work I should be looking for. I’m living with my parents but would rather be further south so that I can visit the sea easily. I knew I would feel this way but I blocked it out and tried not to think about it. It’s good to know that other people feel the same way – I am also lucky in that I have friends who I met overseas who have returned and know what is in store for me, so are awaiting by the phone if I need them. I know things will get better, it’s just the culture shock and feeling of loneliness and being lost that I’m finding difficult.
Good luck to everyone who is feeling the same, we’ll get through it and things will work out one way or another :-)

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134 Julie R July 31, 2014 at 2:49 am

I have been living in Australia for 7 years. I moved here for my (then) husband’s supposedly temporary 3-year position. My daughter has now spent as much time in Australia as in the US. After 18 years of marriage, my husband decided he wanted to make a life with someone else. I stayed in Australia because I thought it was the right thing for our daughter. I live in a beautiful place, I like my job (although I don’t really earn enough to live in Sydney without child support) and let’s face it, Australia treats its citizens better than the US does in many ways (medicare, 5-weeks vacation for most jobs, higher wages, 9% employer-paid retirement contributions, lower University fees) but I still feel really not at home here. I don’t have any family connections, I don’t really have very many close friends (maybe a result of moving in my mid 40’s – it may get harder as you get older and people become more settled) and I can’t really see myself living out my life here but I don’t know that I can in the US either! I happen to work at a historical site that was the first point of call for many newly arriving immigrants to Australia and I often think about their experiences, and how disorienting it must have been for some of them & how others just dove in an made a new life for themselves. I never knew that living in Paris when I finished Uni in my 20’s would lead to where it has. I married the (Spanish) man I met in Paris, our daughter has 3 passports. I guess not quite feeling at home when you live a multi-cultural, multi-continental life is the price you pay…until you figure out how to feel at home anywhere!

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135 harriet August 28, 2014 at 5:39 am

I’m Australian, & came to france with my son 8 years ago when he was 4, for a holiday .. stayed longer, as a single mum, as the lifestyle ( south france ) was ecomonic & stimulated me, while allowing me to spend time with my son, and not pay a fortune in childcare in oz. I always thought we would go back to oz. that it was important for my son to have some Australianness in his education .. but then I married a French man, & now 6 years later, he decided to make a life with someone else, & now, I am wondering what the xxxx I am doing here ! My son is in college now, & wants to stay, all his education to date has been French, & he is perfectly bilingual. But the thought of staying here for the next 6 years, or for life, terrifies me. It seems to have happened when I wasn’t looking. It’s a huge move to go back, I didn’t realise. & because the school years are different, going back, would mean not returning, my son would fall 2 years behind with the French system. I think home is where the heart is, & yes France was home, but now old links are home … unless I meet a new partner here. I have never felt quite so lost. I had this notion of driving around the west coast of oz for the next few months, to acquaint my son with his country a bit, & then settling somewhere for him to start high school next February.. I was 44 when we came here, life is a bit scarier when your relationship ends & past & future need to suddenly be redefined, & you feel so old ! I have no idea what to do. school is about to start again here .. am thinking a year to stabilise & then go back .. but then …

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136 Miriam August 30, 2014 at 5:25 pm

Harriet, I really feel for you. I am Australian and emigrated to Norway (from Perth) in 2006. I married a Norwegian whom I met in Norway, on holiday. The marriage was difficult and it didn’t survive the intercultural challenges. (I realise now that I should never have married someone who had only lived in his home country! Of course, there were other issues too). I returned to Australia in 2010 and fell in love with an old friend, in Perth. That made me confront the reality of returning to Australia. (And the fact that I wasn’t finished with my Norwegian life). I realised that whilst returning to Australia may have been “safe”, it was really an illusion. My CV was out of date, rental prices in Perth had rocketed (and they’ve only got worse, since then). I also hadn’t really lived the life in Norway that I wanted – it had mainly been an emotional struggle (in connection with my marriage). As I am fluent in Norwegian, I have never had problems working in Norway and there was no pressing need to return. On the contrary, there were many reasons for staying. However, the most difficult struggle was with myself and choosing to make a life in this country without a partner. It felt like being in “freefall” all over again.

Perhaps, if you can, you should return to Australia and explore the west coast. I miss the coastline incredibly – Albany, Denmark, Margaret River and Perth. There are many places I haven’t even been to up north. Perhaps you will also realise, with a dull kind of grief, as I did, that the fantastic nature of Western Australia is something that is best appreciated on holidays, or long weekends. Perth is becoming more sterile and my strongest impression when I visited last year was the freeways and traffic. I doubt I could afford the rent to live where I did in South Fremantle. In fact, I doubt I could afford the rent anywhere interesting. At my age, I don’t think I would ever be able to buy property there.

I can’t say anything about the issues you are considering with respect to your son. Perhaps the best thing is that you realise that it won’t be simple to change school systems to say nothing of culture shock and settling in. You might want to think about the changes that are coming in terms of university education. It took me 10 years to pay off my HECS debt from 1998. It will take today’s youth much, much longer. If your son is likely to pursue a university education, perhaps he would be better off doing so in France. If he is bilingual and has dual nationality, he can always go to Australia later.

Perhaps what I really want to say is that you should have hope that you CAN redefine your life in France. Australia doesn’t have to be the answer. I don’t regret my decision 4 years ago to recreate my life in Norway. Neither do I regret saying “no” to a potential new relationship with a friend in Australia. I am 42, so whilst I am younger than you, it may be that we have similar challenges. I have become a student again and am creating new career opportunities. That decision meant moving across the country 2 years ago. (I’ve had to start over anyway! And I still grieve, at times, for my old home in Norway).

I remember feeling so lost and alone when my husband left in 2010. A complex medical issue had arisen 6 months before he left and that compounded the fear and uncertainty. What I have learnt is that the thinking and writing I did during that “lost” period, served me well. I made good choices and I knew that returning to the country of my birth wasn’t (at that stage) one of them. I may still have a future in Australia (there are always things I will miss) but I don’t NEED to go back to be complete, or “safe”. In fact, having changed so much I am not sure that I could be really happy there again. (I have also lived in the US and China, returning after each sojourn to Australia. The memory of the reverse culture shock experience, particularly after living in China, is something that helped me decide NOT to hurry back to Australia!)

I will always love the scent of gum leaves and the scent of Australian soil, after rain. I will always miss the casual friendliness in shops and at bus stops and I miss the accessibility of stunning beaches. I also miss being close to my sister, brother and mother. (However, as they live 2000 km from Perth, in a city I loathe, I haven’t been physically close to them since 1999). There will always be small things to miss. And there would be many, many things to miss if I were to leave Norway.

If you have felt at home in France for 8 years, then you must have the strength and skills to redefine your life there. You managed the first time and you were a single mum! Go back to Australia by all means but don’t let anyone persuade you that you can’t stay in your adopted country because you don’t have family or a partner! (I remember how susceptible I was to that suggestion when I felt “lost”. I doubted my own skills, love of adventure and everything that makes me able to live in different cultures). Accept the fact that you are feeling lost and alone now and allow yourself to grieve the changes that led to this situation in the place that is your current home. THEN decide where you want to go and what you want to do. Most of all – “Courage et bonne chance!”

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137 harriet August 31, 2014 at 12:23 am

Thanks Miriam so much for this reply. The cost of ed in university is a really good point. I’m not originally from WA, but from Melbourne, but lived in Perth for a couple of years, & loved the west coast. But yep, that’s the thing, you go away, & when you return, things have moved on. For the first time in my life I’ve realised how a partner makes all the difference in taking on changes, I could move anywhere at present if I had a mate to do it with ! The shock of being confronted with being a single mum again, with all the plans for the future of a life between two countrys gone, has knocked me over. Unlike you, I couldn’t speak a word of French when I got here, now I have a working French, & a visa for 10 years. But there is sort of no one to go back to either .. Some lovely friends back in oz, but you know, they have their own lives. I am basing a decision to return or stay on where I might have a support group of sorts, on possible work, & neither of those factors are apparent, I have to create them.
I have spent a lot of time being frightened, depressed, miserable .. going through the motions of staying here. And I know, going back, is not going to solve that, and will close the door here, but .. I go around in circles. I see the pros & cons of both.

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138 Miriam August 31, 2014 at 2:42 am

Hi Harriet, It sounds like you really need a support group now. I know I did when my husband left, I was on crutches, working freelance and wondering what on earth I was doing halfway around the planet from my home country. And then there was seeing plans evaporating and (faint) hopes irrevocably shattered.

The worst bit was having no one to discuss the issues with. It’s so obvious really – it is the time when one really, really needs/wants a partner! Hopefully my website address will come up with this reply. My email is on the contact page (via the English site). Send me an email if you would like. (You will also note that Miriam is pseudonym).

Whether you choose to continue discussions privately or not, I want to also remind you (if you haven’t already thought about it) of the issue of age discrimination in Australia, in terms of employment. I had a good hard think about this 4 years ago and I have kept a sharp eye on the situation in Australia ever since. It isn’t good for someone who is 42. For anyone over 50 who is trying to get a job the situation is appalling. Just 2 weeks ago a good friend who is an engineer/Project manager with a large multinational was made redundant. 2 weeks notice after 18 years with the company. He is nearly 55. Another friend, 54, who retrained as a teacher ended up going to Bangladesh for work, after 180 job applications and a year of unemployment. With 16,000 public servants being made redundant (another friend, 39, just to a package) and high youth unemployment, the situation is grim. On top of this, the current govt is trying to bring in new budgetary measures which particularly effect single parents and those on low incomes. France may not be a paradise for you right now but I suspect its social security system is probably looking better than Australia’s. Norway’s certainly does!

There is also the issue of superannuation. (I suspect we have similar issues). I have been out of the Australian workforce for 8 years. My superannuation isn’t great and unless I go back and earn bucketloads, I am facing a very grim “retirement”. My mother’s situation only reinforces this.

Lastly, you now have “workable” French, as you said. I had “almost-workable” Norwegian when I arrived in Norway. It took me a year to bring it up to a functional level so that I could get an admin temping job. (I’m trying to say that I’ve had my days of discomfort (and still do) and in the beginning I certainly had plenty of frustration. The point I want to make is that if your French is now workable, then it will make your English (native speaker level) much, much more valuable. (Whereas no one in Australia will care if you speak French or not; it certainly won’t land you a job).

I really just want to encourage you! I have had many, dark, dark days in my Norwegian life. Even as recently as February this year, I just wanted to get back on a plane and leave! But there are mostly good days now. As you realise, you have to create your own support group…but it might indeed be the case that your future will be easier (and you might be happier) if you stay in France. Once again, good luck!

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139 harriet August 31, 2014 at 3:22 am

hi there again. & thanks again ! i would love to keep up contact, it’s wonderful to hear that i am not alone in this experience, but no website contact details came up, just the link to the main page. & yep harriet isn’t my name either ! insanely good to hear that you have had dark days … that i am not on my own with that. i just know, that i shouldn’t run, that if i leave, it needs to be a little planned, a little calm, whereas all i want to do, really, is jump into the surf on home soil. and there aren’t many Australians where we live, well actually none that i know of, lots of brits, but i find the cultural difference there is even bigger than the French. It is fantastic to get your mail. i really appreciate it. dunno how i get my direct contact email to you ?

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140 Miriam August 31, 2014 at 7:30 am

Hi! Just go to the Multilingual Living page with this comment and click on “Miriam” (2nd and 3rd comments to you only – I didn’t provide a web address to the 1st). This will take you to my company website (it’s a sole proprietorship and no big deal). On the menu to the left you can click on “ENGLISH” and then go through to the “Contact” page. My email address and other details are there. You are definitely not alone in your experience and I look forward to further contact with you!

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141 harriet August 31, 2014 at 3:22 pm

hiya, just to let you know, I’ve written to your email address.

142 agnes August 24, 2014 at 12:38 pm

i’m 27 this year and have lived in London for the last 7 years of my life. I studied in the UK and then took on a job in London there where I have lived and worked for the past 3-4 years. prior to that I had always lived in my home country (in asia) and my family and all my friends are still there. I have made some friends in London, mostly through work, but not the kind of close friends one has from spending your formative school years together (these friends are all back home). despite living in London for so long (and loving the place for its excitement, adventure, international vibe and endless activities), I never really felt at home. I guess it’s because I never intended to make it my permanent home in the first place! I’d always thought I’d return back to my home country after I’d worked for 3-4 years (which is about now). I feel ready to move back ( I have felt the longing/homesickness for a year or two now- have always felt it, but not this intensely, exacerbated by watching my friends back home settling down, buying homes, getting married, having kids, etc. whilst I continue to be stuck in limbo, away from home), even though I’m aware of the difficulties I would face (trying to get a new job, readjusting to life, re-building my life back home after being away for so long and pretty much losing touch with most of my social circle….), which are just hurdles to be overcome.

but what has torn me right down the middle and kept me from acting on my long held plans and desire to return home is that I have been dating this really amazing guy for the last 3 years, and he is a really great match for me (our value systems etc. match, we have similar family-oriented personalities, want the same things in life (apart from which country to live in) and we get along really well). we both want to get married young/soon-ish and start a family/ have kids. we have even talked about it and I know he is up for it sooner rather than later (probably would have popped the question had he thought i was ready) and we had even quite recently tried to buy a house together (which fell through because I backed out at the last minute). we have discussed what life would be like in the UK – he’s willing to visit my family with me at least once every year from henceforth, etc., if I do stay, etc. it was the panic and relentless sleepness nights from the house-saga that really brought the conflict to the forefront of my mind and made me realise the problem: I always thought I would eventually return home, and still do, and till I let go of that (and somehow manage to start feeling like UK is my home-which I have my doubts, given how long I’ve tried, and failed), I would not be able to commit and this relationship was never going to work. I should have seen it right from the start (perhaps I did, but subconsciously buried it in the blind hope that ‘things would work out somehow’).

on the one hand, I’ve tried to convince myself to stay and settle down with my boyfriend and make him my home and sometimes I can almost see that being a happy life (he’s willing to get married once I/we sort out this issue, but he is not willing to follow me home. so, should I choose to go home, that is the end of our relationship), I love him, we are compatible in a way I hadn’t even thought possible, he is a good family man, someone I can see being happily married to and a good father to our kids (in future). furthermore, I am afraid of being alone and single for the rest of my life (in my culture, people get married young, and at 27/28 – by the time I return home- I would be considered old and most guys would have been married/in serious long term relationships by then and I would get ‘left on the shelf’. in my culture, there is still some stigma attached to being single and a woman and this is a real fear. moreover, I always wanted to have a family/kids), I cannot bear the thought of risking not ever finding someone else to be my life partner again or ‘missing the boat’ on having kids, my job is stable and good in London and it is actually an uphill task for me to find a similar job back home….

yet on the other, I desperately miss home and my family with a longing/sense of loss in me that is almost physically painful. and the longing has only increased with time. I have watched loved ones get married, have children, get sick and die, go through tough times, all from afar, and each time it rips my heart not to be there to be with them, for them (especially deathbed scenarios). as my parents grow older, it is as much the expectation of my society as of my own wanting and sense of duty that I need to be near them to take care of them (and I know they would want me near too, even if they don’t say or demand this of me). I’ve tried my hardest to fit in in London (and it has improved much more so than when I first came) but I will never feel the instant sense of ease and connection, familiarity and comfort that I get with people I meet in my home country. it is ironic and sad that a friend I made on a chance occurrence for a few days in my home country whilst i was visiting has become a far greater and closer friend than any of my british friends (more acquaintances, really) that I have met and known for years in London. I put it to cultural differences, the way we speak, the lack of common interests, more than anything else. i’m terrified of being alone, living for nothing and having no one in the UK but my boyfriend to turn to (what if things start going wrong in our relationship?). I don’t like the weather (it’s always grey and raining and cold and it makes me exceedingly depressed, especially in winter- I grew up in sunshine and weekly trips to the beaches with my family), I don’t get access to the beach except maybe once a year and even then the water’s too cold to swim in, I still miss Asian food and mostly eat Asian food if given a choice (and wish I could have my staple comfort foods daily, and at a reasonable price), I much prefer the social activities of friends my age back home than those of people in London, etc. I really need to be back where I can feel at home again, a place where I feel I belong – the thought of living in London (much as I loved my time in university there and the city, as a holiday destination) for the rest of my life feels me with a cold empty dread (and a tight knotted sinking feeling in my stomach) and I have jerked awake many a night in panic just at the thought. ultimately, if I am to go home, I should do it sooner rather than later (if I am to stand a chance even of getting over the boyfriend and finding someone else to settle down with – and a life partner/kids are of paramount importance to me). but I am terrified though that if I made the move, I don’t really have that much of a home at home either (apart from my lovely, huge, warm family) – that I’m seeing home through rose tinted glassesnow- and I will feel so lonely and regret my decision to throw away a great and serious relationship that was moving towards marriage, but by then it would all be too late.

please, please, if you have been there before/or in a similar situation, please could you give me some advice, any advice?! – what should I do, what should I take into consideration, which factors do I need to give more weight to than others? I have found that even in the last 3 years, my priorities changed so much – with the benefit of hindsight, I would not have made the choice to work in london, i would have returned home straight after university and started building my life/finding a boyfriend there – I’m afraid that if I act on how i feel now, even if I do what’s best for me now, 3 years down the line I would just realise again I’ve made a mess of it and actually what i thought I wanted (and managed to attain, through lots of pain and sacrifice), is not what I actually want in the end, or that I have changed and it is not what I want after all (and most probably what I actually wanted would be the very thing I sacrificed), and by then it is too late. I’ve never felt so torn, stuck and afraid in my life and I know that whichever way I choose to go, the pain and obstacles immediately in my path are going to be so great that I’d just want to swing back again and shy away from/reverse the decision (assuming I even manage to bring myself to a decision and act on it), and I really really need a strong reason to hold myself down and go through with it, if I’m to be able to make a decision either way and move on with my life at all! I’ve been stuck in limbo for a year or so now, and have become increasingly depressed, unhappy, and it’s starting to take a toll on my relationship with the boyfriend anyway – so waiting a bit more to ‘see how things go’ is no longer an option because I need to start living and moving on (and so does the boyfriend), and the longer this drags, the more painful it will be for all. please, help me if you can…

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