August 20, 2008


The secret to happiness while living abroad is to find a balance between immersing yourself in the new culture and soaking up all the impressions of your country of adoption and remembering where you come from and keeping your identity by incorporating your home culture in your daily life. Whenever I get ready to spend indefinite amount of time overseas, I intentionally bring along items that remind me of home (whatever the definition of it may be). My care-pack always includes plenty of pictures of friends and family, which I paste to the wall, a bottle of Teisseire grenadine syrup, a pot of Nutella, instant vegetable broth, my feel-good sweater, Trudi the Hippopotamus, my Ipod with music from all over the world... Little things that help me through the stretches of homesickness I might encounter. “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” - once settled in a new city I socialize with locals, try to discover the places that aren’t mentioned down in your guidebooks, I eat local food (not necessarily the über-exotic kind, but at least everyday dishes) and try as much as I can to learn the language. Meanwhile, I explore the touristy spots as well; this helps me feel at ease quicker as I’ve probably seen pictures and read up on these places before. It creates familiarity and eliminates the fear of the unknown. I keep myself busy with planning getaways and exploring my new urban life, I locate a good baker and deli for my fix on bread, cheeses and meats, I check out French/German/Italian restaurants to go to when I crave European flavors, and I meet people that ultimately contribute to the feeling of belongingness. I have learned to accept the occasional homesickness and disorientation as part of the experience. After the initial thrill and excitement that comes with the novelty, negative feelings start to creep in and there are moments when I just feel like packing my bags all over again. But I have learned to be patient with myself, focus on the good things and keep an open mind. I aim to create an environment in which I feel comfortable, without attempting to re-create a replica of home. Lastly, I try to have fun and enjoy myself!

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails