Happy Abroad: for everyone who wants to live happily abroad!

You live abroad and time to time you come back to your “home” country (i.e. a place where you grew up, where your family lives) to visit your family, friends. Even if you were not born there, you have spent there quite an important part of your life/childhood; thus part of yourself is always there. For me this “special place” is Riga, Latvia. Here is the scenario, which usually happens when I go back “home”[1], may be you will find there some patterns, which you also have:

First day: everything is great! You see your beloved ones, give gifts, see how surroundings have changed since your last visit. It is lovely to see all these people, places.

Second day: first disagreements arise. For example, my family tends to eat meals at weird times for me – the time which is too early or too late; their morning and evening habits are different from mine and different from the ones I used to have when I lived in Latvia. One of biggest tortures for me is the TV: my family spends most of their evenings watching TV, which means that if I want to spend some time with them, then I have to watch TV. During the first days it’s a real torture (taking into account that usually I do not watch TV).

Third day: meet other people, friends. Most of them complain about local life, they think that they live almost in the worst place in the world. Oh dear! If they ever knew that this place is actually quite nice. They just do not know how to value the things which they have, as they seem to be obvious for them. For example, Italians start to value good, sunny weather mainly when they move abroad.  I realized how clean, organized Latvia is only when I lived in other places (Western European countries, by the way).

Further days: you get used to live in a “new” environment, life stabilizes. And here are two options of further scenario:

  1. you either start missing the place where you live (your “new” homeland) or
  2. you feel so good staying with your family, old friends, that you do not want to return.

For instance, I sometimes miss Italian pasta, miss a possibility to have long walks in the city (it’s not that in Riga people do not walk, it’s just not very common due to not very nice weather), I miss emotionality of people – in Latvia even my closest friends hug only at big celebrations, such as a Birthday party or a Wedding. Thus feelings of “miss” exist, but not every time. For example, during my last visit to Riga in April, I was pretty happy, I guess it was because I stayed the right amount of time – not too short, not too long. Is it possible to stay “too long”? I believe yes, as when you visit your “old home” you are travelling, you are not into everyday routine. How long is it possible to stay out of routine (i.e. not studying, not working, not doing the activities you usually do)? I think not too long, unless you decide to stay longer and develop your new routine.

So tell me, have you ever experienced a shock when you visited your “home” country, visited your family and childhood friends? Or may be you are always happy? Did you want to come back as soon as possible to your “new” home? (I did…)


[1] In this article I can call this place “fatherland/homeland”, but for me “home” now is more the place where I am living at the moment.

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Comments on: "Coming back home: happy moments or just another cultural shock?" (7)

  1. Birgitte said:

    The first times when I went back to my home country, I went back for holidays and for about one week at a time. I really missed my “new” home a lot then, maybe because my home country seemed so boring as a holiday destination. But now that I’ve moved back to my home country permanently, I see things in a different way and I don’t miss the country I left, strangely enough! I appreciate a lot more things about my home country now than I did before. 🙂

    • Funny, but I have to say that now, after living a quarter of my life abroad, I have much more respect and appreciation towards my home country.
      Interesting, but people tend to see their home country from negative point of view and think that abroad life is better. I noticed it when I lived in the UK and Italy: in the UK people think that life in warm, sunny country is much better and many would like to move to Spain, Italy. Whereas in Italy people think that life in the UK is much better and want to move there. Italians even think that I am crazy, as I used to live in London and then moved to Italy. 🙂

      • Birgitte said:

        It’s true, the grass always seems greener on the other side. 🙂

  2. Hi there, a very good post indeed! I recognize these feelings. Probably, one can truly the place where you have chosen to live only once you have seen the weaknesses that exist in those that are considered “cooler” countries!

  3. Interesting observation!

    Yet have you tried to look on the situation from a different angle?

    Lets imagine, that you have spend a childhood in a small vilage in Latvia, than moved to Riga. How would you feel visiting your relatives in a small village? The same!!!

    Or, lets imagine, that you are living in the same town where you was born, yet you have graduated an University and later you meet your friend from a kindergarden. She has 5 kids, a husband, living in a small flat, looking tired…. How you will feel after 15 minutes talk? The same!!!

    So, as for me – our reaction, our grows, our new surrounding, our new life style – this is our comfort zone. As soon as we leaved it – the irritations accured!

    What do you think? Whould it help just to accept the situation as it is does not matter of political and geographical borders? 🙂

  4. Hi Katerina, I think your are right. It is a work in progress really but, no matter how hard we try to be international and to adopt a sort of borderless culture, border are still there. That is also a good think since, if they were not there, it would be damn boring…

  5. I think political and geographical borders do not matter that much, it’s more surrounding to which you are used matters. When you change environment, some time is needed adjust to a new one. When you change a town within one country – probably less time is needed, as there are less changes, when you change country – more time is needed (but again, it depends on the country and on yourself).

    I agree with Katerina, even if you do not change the place, but change the group, for example, meet your classmates, whom you have not seen for 10-20 years, then you might feel strange in new “old” surrounding.

    However at the same time if you are surrounded by open-minded, so-called “international” people, then you can change different countries/places, but your environment won’t change much. That is what happen to many professional diplomats.

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