Returning from Life Abroad

When you experience the joy of getting back to your country after a period of time abroad, how does it feel? Have you ever had to leave your country, family and friends for over 3 months? Or even more? What is going on inside and around you when you live abroad for years and then occasionally return to your homeland? What emotions, concerns and situations did you find yourself in and how others reconnecting with you as you try to relate again with them and your homeland?

I have left Hungary at Spring/Summer of 2014. Since then I basically just return for holidays. I even had 2 years of time without stepping into my homeland. How did it feel? It was epic. Only inside me, but I was kind of waiting for fireworks… :D I mean obviously not for real, but I was waiting for something special. So silly..

Whenever I left my birth country for a project abroad, somehow I never really felt strong and unbearable homesick. How is it possible? I don’t really know. I am just guessing I was pretty preoccupied with the work, or challenges in life, or just enjoyed the new experiences too much.. But I grantee it is not because I was never really missing my country or my people. I was terribly, actually…

You grow up and spend over decades in your homeland: you get your education, fall in love first in life, learn how to ride a bike or drive a car, get your first heartbreak… Then you leave behind your mum, dad, siblings, best friends and over a few thousands of acquaintances to start in a new life-style where mostly non of the previously listed individuals will be with you. You need to build a new support system from scratch. 

The environment surrounding you shapes who you are. If you spend enough time abroad it can be pretty drastic change in your personality or habits. I fore example became vegetarian. My parents are still trying to adapt to it as they have seen me only 5 times since last summer average for 2,5 weeks. So in their memories it is burnt in that I am the person they raised and lived with until age 27. This is just a very specific, and ‘tangible’ change what will on your first day appear clear to everyone. Just the top of the iceberg but pretty well works to represent what change can happen with you. And as they are not there with you, it will be strange for them.

But you have been shaped by that new place. It can be greatly different from where you grow up. You don’t have your favorite dishes with you, especially not the way your family prepare it for you. Some ingredients you can not even get while in the foreign land. You don’t hear your own language in the tv, or read it from street billboards. You won’t have your favorite hairdresser, nor your usual local cosmetic brands. Need to get used to new tariff of mobile providers for internet, or calls. You are relearning the name of the food, the streets and the means of transports too. Even the smallest things can be missed so badly from your own land, when you spend enough time abroad.

As I said earlier I had 1,5 years in Africa, then returned to UK for a week, then spent 2 months in USA, and worked 3 more months in UK before finally returned to my country at summer in 2017.

I never would have imagined what will I miss the most while living abroad. So tiny things but they drove me crazy sometimes. I tent to miss going to cinema while I was in a francophone Africa because I don’t speak the language and I barley could find an English movie theater. Or the way I missed the cold, snowy winter time for Christmas.. OMG I absolutely missed pickled cabbage, what is one of the basic ingredients for Hungarian meals. I was crazy about this missing taste and instantly on my return the first thing I ate even if it had meat inside was this dish: stuffed cabbage.

How many other, hidden transformations did you go trough? On your return you will clearly see that it was not only you, who’s life was reshaped. I have not just left my family/friends but also our commonly built lifestyle and daily routines. I wasn’t there for like 4 years to contribute to or at least oversee this evolution of everyday routine. So I missed the chance to get used to the new ways. And clearly they are tangible and sometimes it’s a strange pain to realize that life, indeed, moved on and changed while you were not around.

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2 thoughts on “Returning from Life Abroad

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  1. One thing not usually expressed is that your original country is a system that evolves in time, and also that you as a person also are. When you live in a place you evolve with it, when you are away you don’t. Staying away from a long time often times makes you away from life in the original place. Not that I did not attach a value (good or bad). Just note the fact. When you return after a long time you feel the joy of finding the good all things. You may also feel the sting of the bad things. You may also find that the country you grew up in “does not exist” anymore. Cheers!

    1. Very true Marcus. I can’t speak about being away from decades but even in my short term (4 years abroad now, 2 years long period which I haven’t return) I can say my county and people have changed a lot. It’s not positive not negative it’s just life. When we decide to leave our place of origin or actually any environment we have been attached for a while we risk that we lose connection and we grow fast apart then if we are close. This is the life of a traveler and that’s part of it. Cheers

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