How do you define home if you’re an expat? Your definition may differ from other expats, but what’s important is how you define home. If you travel for a short time, home is your immediate past residence. If you travel for a long time, home starts to become an ambiguous concept.
Rebecca Knight has defined home as a place where personal touches include children’s paintings on the wall, magnets on the fridge, and shoes by the door (https://www.idealhome.co.uk/news/what-makes-a-house-a-home-206097). You may more simply define home as where your heart is, or a place where you feel most comfortable.
When you leave a place for any length of time, you may feel you no longer have a home. If you are living out of a suitcase (or in my case less), home may become a place where you hang your hat. You may lose a sense of security, or you may feel you have become two persons having a foot in two different worlds.
For your own peace of mind, you may need to find new meanings for home, as home has now become a work in progress. Pico Iyer, an expert travel writer, with the help of National Geographic, gives us a 20-minute conversation defining his view of a portable life (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6GB1uAy3gE).
If you find yourself asking the questions who am I and where do I belong, you are not alone. To answer those questions, you might try looking within. There you will find you can have more than one home. With flexibility, you will become more connected with the world. Home is a concept you will take with you.
You can’t simply wipe away remembrances of your past, of course. Think instead of home now becoming a concept where you can add to your memories. You will find this flexibility makes you a more accepting person, which in turn makes connecting with others an easier experience. You will have more compassion and appreciation for the diverse people and experiences you will encounter.
If you’re uncomfortable with the unknown, psychologist Gabriela Encina offers a website to overcome the fears of being an expat (https://gabriela-encina.com). She offers a free guide to overcoming your anxiety. Remember, Pico Iyer said whatever you are looking for is beneath your feet. Consequently, you can be at home wherever you are at the moment.
Fact: Home is not a place…it’s a feeling
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