Thursday, May 10, 2007

The roots and all that

I am back from the trip to the home country. Even though I haven't moved very far away I am sometimes homesick bordering on the pathetic. Back home the weather is much nicer, the nature is gentler, the cities larger, the food better, the jokes funnier, the people more diverse, the cultural life more sophisticated and everything better known - to me. A few years ago I would have ridiculed anyone saying the above. Anyone who would be opposed to emigrating or at the very least working abroad for several years would have been a looser in my opinion, especially if the abroad in question was a mere 24 hours road trip away.

The thing about Europe, aside from giving people from other continents the chance to visit several new countries in a matter of days, is that it's actually quite diverse. Even within regions that might seem superficially similar to the visitor. Although a neighboring country might not be far away in distance or language group it is still a new country complete with its own official rules and regulations, traditions, food, news, literature, music, TV-shows, ways of doing things, perceptions of good and bad, wrong and right and not least cultural heritage. Sometimes it is just a matter of getting that special kind of bread, listening to that song from the 80's on the radio or knowing who the heck they are talking about when referring to that comedian who used to be so funny. One of the things I love about going home (besides the yummy food and the hip and happening cities) is to get all these cultural references, to know what things used to be like and to have shared memories with someone else.

I am not more nostalgic than I remember some things that were less than ideal (say ridiculous real estate prices anywhere near hip and happening cities or complete lack of jobs in either of our fields). For the same and other reasons I also don't think we will be living there anytime soon. Instead I think I am on the verge of becoming obsessed-with-home-country-emigrant type who will go out of her way to get recognizable home country products, only cares about home country news and gets crazily happy about any chance to elaborate on home country ways of life. We already subscribe to the emigrant newspaper and have the kitchen cupboards stocked with Weird National Specialty, and I know more about what happened at home the last six months than what happened here yesterday, so I'm well on my way to achieving this. Watch my steps, I'm not sure I like this about myself.

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At 5:55 PM, Anonymous Amelie said...

I agree -- and many of those things you only realize when you actually _live_ in a foreign contry. On holidays, I don't care too much if the bread is different. But for everyday life... I do miss it. Like many other things that used to be "normal".
However, I don't really want to focus my life on the German community here (which is supposed to be rather big)... that just does not seem right for me, even though I cannot explain it.

At 9:05 PM, Blogger saxifraga said...

Funny that you mention it, because I don't really feel like I fit into the expat community here either. I think one of the things that has been/ is really difficult for me to accept is that we might be in it here for the very long run. Jobs are scarce in both our home countries but fairly promising here, but the idea of settling down for good in a place where I feel so disconnected from everything is more frightening than I had expected. I think I am somehow disappointed with myself for not being able to handle the transition to this new country better. It's nice to hear that you are experiencing some of these feelings too. It's easy to feel like a loser academic if one cares enough about familiar routines to feel unsettled when crossing borders for a job.


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