Can you be a long term expat while still keeping your roots?
After living almost seven years abroad, coming home is something very special.
For the yearbook of my graduation class we made a poll with a lot of silly questions like who would be the first porn star or the first one to land in jail. I won the first prize so to say on the question of who would be the first person of our cohort to become an expat (and the second one for who would start a revolution for that matter ;-). At that point I could never have imagined moving away. Maybe for a few months, yes, I had already done that, or to study, but at no stage whatsoever I expected myself to live my life away for so long as I have already done at this point.
Over the last seven years I have decided to live abroad for several reasons: love, work and studies beside the pure thrill of starting over in a new place. Fun fact: I had never been to either of the locations I decided to do my studies in before moving there with pack and kegel.
Yet, a lot has happened since I took the leap and moved away. My cousin married and had a child, my sister became a doctor and my favourite uncle, who had always been like a father to me, was diagnosed with cancer, got operated, radiated and chemo, almost recovered and died in the end afterall. I managed to take a 5am flight on a Saturday with return on Sunday night to see him the weekend before his death. So while I love my life and being away, it pains me to not being able to be there for and with my family for such events.
And while one point is to not being able to physically be there, it repeatedly happened to me that I was the last to know about many things happening as people did not want to trouble me while I was away or thought I would not be able to make it anyway. You might think that this may just be a case of bad communication skills within my family, but is it? Can I expect them to constantly keep me on top of everything that is going on or is it more of a “You snooze you lose” situation, just with snooze being interchanged with travel?
Last year I had the unexpected chance to stay back in my hometown, Munich, Germany, for almost a month for medical reasons and it felt absolutely cosy and familiar, but totally distant at the same time. One of my doctors even asked me where I was from due to my funny accent when speaking German. I could not believe what I was hearing. Was I losing my roots, my national identity? What are these things anyway? Is it something you are born with? Learned by culture and education? Can you adapt new ones or even have several at the same time?
Without even realizing it, it seems, I grew some roots here in Edinburgh and at the same time loosening the ones I had at the place where I grew up. Yet, since this above mentioned trip to the latter I cannot shake the feeling that the tables have turned. Whatever I had here is loosening and I feel myself drawn back to Germany more than ever before. Can I imagine moving back there? Maybe? Potentially? I don’t know, but it is time to decide as being torn this way inside can only backlash at you if you ignore it for too long.
Has anyone of you ever felt this way? What was your solution?
Photo Credit: Jose Roberto V Moraes via http://www.flickr.com