Home is Where the Heart Is... Literally


Earlier this year

I wrote a post about the different phases of cultural shock, where I showed a chart and explained what each phase represented. It's funny because the longer you live abroad, the easier it is to identify these phases on people around you and the easier it is for you to deal with your own emotions. We all miss home, some more than others, and it's inevitable that at some point longing for our home doesn't have the same effect that it did years before. Not that you don't miss home, or don't ever want to go back, but we all have a way of dealing with these feelings and we bury them somehow.

I remember working as a waitress in a hotel in Lausanne, Switzerland when a Brazilian woman came down for breakfast.  We started a conversation and I clearly remember telling her how much I missed Brazil and that I wanted to go back no matter what (I'd been away for about 2 years). She had been away for about 18 years and she didn't miss it as much as I did, she said that she was happy living in France and she had no intentions of going back, unless she was visiting.  At the time, I was appalled. How could she say that? I felt betrayed, seriously, I didn't get it.
Fast forward many years, I'm on the other side of the spectrum.  It's funny that I can see some expat friends who at first would only hang out with people from their own country, they'd write in social media in their own language, and now, after a few years, they switched to English and are making friends with locals.

The whole point is,

living abroad is a process. Your mind goes through it, your whole emotional system goes through it. It takes time to adjust and to actually start enjoying yourself. That's why I truly believe that "Home is where the heart is". You might be living in Paris, but if you're not enjoying yourself, if you don't want to be there, it won't be fun.
Also, remember, enjoying living abroad, it doesn't mean you've forgotten about the country where you were born. And most importantly, you might love another country so much that you end up adopting it as your own. And that is ok as well.