Can an expat ever truly be ‘home’?
I went back home to Australia recently and had a bit of an expat moment. A deep and profound realisation, if you will. My life is officially torn between all these places that I love with all my heart, and I’m not sure how I’ll ever decide where I want to spend the rest of my life!
I miss so many things about Australia that it genuinely makes my heart ache to think about sometimes. At the same time, I’ve worked so hard to build this amazing life abroad and I know there are so many things I couldn’t possibly give up to just go back home now. It really makes me wonder if I’ll ever be happy in one place ever again? Or if I’m destined for a nomadic life of travels and endless moves.
I think one of the most beautifully painful things about being an expat is that we’ll forever be emotionally drawn to more than one place at any time. My heart is scattered across the globe and with each new place or person (or food, really) that I’ve loved, a little bit of my soul remains with them. From my parents in Australia or my family in Poland. My best friends living across at least five different countries and, of course, my life here in the UK. They each form a piece of my puzzle that will forever be a little bit scattered.
It’s a great privilege to have so many wonderful connections to the world. It’s equally as daunting that no single place will ever again tick ALL the boxes. Not like it once used to before I ever ventured abroad. Home used to be my number 1 for everything. All my favourite people and places were within easy reach. But once you find a new home abroad, it gets a whole lot more complicated.
Wherever you end up, you’ll always know a different life and think back to what once was. Just like a breakup, you’ll probably forget all the bad over time too. All the reasons why you left in the first place. On bad days, the grass will always seem a little bit greener somewhere else.
But while I know first-hand that it’s not easy to leave the comfort and safety of home, I also wholeheartedly believe the reward is worth the fear and risk. If you’re lucky enough to be blessed with the curiosity to live a new life abroad, you need to embrace it with open arms.
Moving abroad is big. It’s really big. Terrifying, exhilarating and nerve-wracking all in one. It will probably change your life forever. It will certainly change you forever. You’re going to fall in love with something, somewhere, someone new. You’ll discover a whole new corner of the world, and of yourself too.
You may travel abroad and uncover a better life, fall in love and never want to go back. Or you may just be reminded that where you started is where you truly belong. I don’t quite know where the next few years will take me, and I certainly don’t know where I’ll end up. I guess that’s not the important part though. The beauty isn’t where we finish, it’s how we get there in the first place. Life is, after all, a journey. Not a destination.
It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end.
– Ursula K. Le Guin