Where is home to an expat?

nataliasarro

Registered
Hi Expats!

I am a Psychologist and Intercultural Trainer living in BA.
I recently featured an article on the concept of home for expats, that I´d like to share with you.

Here is the full article: http://nomadasglobales.blogspot.com/...-what-are.html

I think this is a great topic to discuss. I lived abroad myself and every day in my trainings I come across expats in Argentina who wonder how to deal with homesickness.

So I´d like to ask all expats living outside of their country of origin:

Did you ever get to feel "at home" in Argentina?
What do you do to re-create the feeling of being at home, when you are on the move?

I´d be so interested in hearing your thoughts and comments on this!


Cheers

Natalia Sarro
Intercultural Trainer
http://www.nomadasglobales.blogspot.com/
natalia_sarro@yahoo.com.ar
 

fifilafiloche

Registered
I feel much more at home in Argentina than in my homeland for the simple reason that the culture is much more naturally communicative and emotional.

In western democracies what we gained in wealth was lost in the need to get in touch with others, since the other is less and less needed. This is way easier and natural to "break the ice" at those latitudes.. Our obsession for productivity doesnt leave much time as well for social contacts and talks, even in your own family. Our highly competitive environment leads to some kind of unconfortable paranoia : "L'ennemi , c'est l'autre paré d'autant et d'aussi belles qualités que les nôtres"

I guess the argentine culture fits perfectly my personality. The argentine sock fits perfectly my foot size : warm and flexible, this society let me breathe while i feel wearing a steel corset in a maximised efficiency environment.
 

nataliasarro

Registered
Hi Fifilafiloche

thanks for sharing your thoughts! ... you know that it is not unusual for expats to unveal hidden sides of their personality when they decide to move abroad.
For some reason, some personality traits don´t find a fertile place to develop when living at one´s home country. Many expats even get to develop a whole new career when they find another type of "home", far away from the place where they were born and probably lived most of their lives.

Funny....so what is actually "home"? The palce were a person was born?

Or the place where one finds oneself comfortable and in line with one´s desires, wherever it is in the map??

Interesting..... let´s keep the discussion alive!

Natalia
 

citygirl

Registered
What a very interesting discussion topic!

For me, it's very timely as I struggle with the idea of whether Argentina will ever be "home" to me, especially as I decide if this will be my permanent base. I moved here and am still single which I think makes the transition even more difficult. I don't know that Argentina will ever truly feel like home - there are cultural differences that I'm not sure can ever be overcome. When you are with someone who is from the same place/time/whatever that you are, you have a cultural "short-hand" so to speak. I don't know that can ever be recreated. I struggle with that here

The interesting twist however is that I've been gone from the US long enough that when I go back for works or visits, it no longer feels like home either. I think one of the most jarring things for me was on my last trip back, I was asked what the purpose of my "visit" to the US was. And it made me realize that I'm a visitor there but yet I still feel like one here. So where or what is home anymore?

As far as recreating a home - the thing that has/does keep me sane are the friends I've made here. Initially, I bonded with other expats but the sad truth is, 95% of them leave after a usually short period of time. Now that I have begun to have local friends, it has helped because I'm building a support network and creating new memories and new "short-hand" - shared experiences, jokes, etc.

I think for many people in this global economy, home is going to become more and more of an elusive concept.

I think often of the Hemingway quote "You're an expat, you've lost touch with the soil" and how brilliantly it captures that feeling of dislocation that many of us experience.
 

nataliasarro

Registered
Hi Citygirl!

Excellent insight on the feeling of "dislocation" of foreigners when living abroad.
I think we have all been there....
Regarding Hemingway´s quotation... making local friends means somehow bonding with the "soil" of the land you are inhabitating, looking to regain the lost touch....

Still, I guess that the traditional concepts of place and time are evolving these days. Can you call "home" the place where you were born, just because it is your passport country?
Or should you be able to recreate the feeling of being at home anywhere you go, as a "home-to-go" concept?
I think that the "home" feeling is inside each of us, no matter where we live. We just make reference to this country or that city as our home land because we managed to feel safe, secure, comfortable and bonded to that place and those people at a given time of our lives.

But in my opinion, the good thing for expats, my friends is.... that home is not a physical place.... it is actually the place where you are right now!




Great topic indeed.

Thanks!
Natalia
 

fifilafiloche

Registered
Home is where you feel in harmony with yourself and your environment, like a fish in water. This isnt necessarily a physical place. For example, with the development of internet, some people unsatisfied with their environment invent themselves a home away from their reality.

I always had a problem with that question that seems to come recurrently when you introduce yourself : where are you from in France. I never know if this means "where were you born" or "where are you living" or "where are you working". I guess this is because i never felt at home there and never built a home (family?)...

Now about homesickness. When you feel frustrated that your new environment doesnt provide you the same facilities as at home, there is a simple solution : remember what made you feel like expatriating yourself in the first place. An expatriate in not an immigrant, he usually doesnt move for economic reasons and can always settle back fairly easily to his birth place.
 

davonz

Registered
For me home is my parents house, where ever they live. I grew up on a farm, and the closes town had a population of 150. I left home when i was 17 and by age of 20 was living in london - UK, and since then i have lived and worked in lots of different countries, but still think of home as my parents house - where i still have my own bedroom after 20 years (not that i get to use it very often).. Maybe this is because i dont have a family myself, or a house for that matter.

Argentina is just a stop on my journey to the grave, maybe it will be my final stop, or maybe next week i well be over it, and it will be time for me to move on.. who knows..

I dont feel homesickness, never have.. But everytime i fly into Auckland i get this tingly feel on the back of my neck.. not sure if its because i am happy to be home or happy that the flight is just about over..
 

mrisley

Registered
fifilafiloche said:
I feel much more at home in Argentina than in my homeland for the simple reason that the culture is much more naturally communicative and emotional.

In western democracies what we gained in wealth was lost in the need to get in touch with others, since the other is less and less needed. This is way easier and natural to "break the ice" at those latitudes.. Our obsession for productivity doesnt leave much time as well for social contacts and talks, even in your own family. Our highly competitive environment leads to some kind of unconfortable paranoia : "L'ennemi , c'est l'autre paré d'autant et d'aussi belles qualités que les nôtres"

I guess the argentine culture fits perfectly my personality. The argentine sock fits perfectly my foot size : warm and flexible, this society let me breathe while i feel wearing a steel corset in a maximised efficiency environment.
I could not have said it any better! Good answer!

Mike
 

studiodio

Registered
Just read Natali's intro article.....i have not had feelings of homesickness or displacement since moving here... if anything i feel more at home and grounded than i did back in the US ...throughout my life, the best times were always when i was doing art projects, and the best of those times was doing art with other people....but somehow I let art always be "on the side," or "after work." Down here, art is my main focus, i can take as many workshops as i want...and almost all of my fellow workshop attendees are argentine so i get the side benifit of getting more and more "socialized" into this culture. i do feel truly fortunate.
 

YohoYoho

Registered
First of all thanks: I read “Non-Places” years ago in a class and then promptly forgot who wrote it and have been trying to remember for about 10 years now.

Secondly, I would argue in the construction of public and private space has changed with the internet, even for people living in their country of origin. Therefore, this reflects on the concept of home. People can construct “virtual homes” and disregard physical space all together.

Home is where my computer is.
 
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