Tag Archives: home

Homesick?

I tried my best to prepare for it. For everything that was about to happen as we headed to the states. But I knew we could’t truly be prepared, that we couldn’t totally know what to expect.

And especially when it came to our boys.

They had not been to the states in over three years. Norway has become home, probably more so for them than for us. Daniel has actually lived in our home in Sandefjord longer than he’s lived anywhere else in his entire life.

They were super excited about going to America. But we didn’t know what it would be like for them. I anticipated a mix of emotions, of highs and lows. And I imagined that even with all the excitement, ¬†at some point they would become homesick.

And as I thought about that a bit more, I realized that homesickness is actually a constant in this life we live.

We have experienced homesickness on a fairly consistent basis since probably 2007.

I remember being incredibly homesick our first time in Ukraine. It was our first time in a non-English speaking country. The availability of internet, even 8 years ago, just wasn’t what it was now. There were so many unknowns and so much uncertainty around us (plus, we were about to become parents for the first time – yikes!).

And yet, when we arrived home with our first son a month later, we found ourselves feeling a bit homesick for Ukraine. Sounds weird, but it is true.

It happened again in 2010 when we adopted our second child. Homesick for America, then homesick for Ukraine.

We experienced it when we lived in Canada. And at that point, I started realizing that the homesickness we are experiencing is not necessarily about a place. It is more about family, friends, and familiarity.

We felt it it when we first moved here to Norway and made it through that initial ‘honeymoon’ phase.

And while I love our city and friends and life in Norway, we still experience it.

It seems there is always a lingering homesickness in me. It is there regardless of where I am.

After three years living outside of my home culture, I’ve come to realize that I might never feel totally at home again. There will always be something I miss from one of my homes.

It’s one of those things you learn to live with, that you accept as a part of this cross-culture lifestyle.

And I also see now that it doesn’t necessarily have to be a negative thing.

Instead, I consider it a reminder of the opportunities we’ve had in life, the people and places who’ve impacted and changed us, and the memories of the family, the friends, and the familiar.

 

So thanks to so many of you for making us feel at home in so many different places.

 

For making us feel homesick.

 

 

And for keeping up with us, through the crazy times, the boring times, and everything in between.

 

Where are you from?

It seems like a simple question. Yet, when the flight attendant asked our 10 year old those four little words earlier this week, we realized that sometimes it isn’t necessarily so easy.

 

Daniel looked at her, and we listened to see how he would respond. Would he name his country of birth, where he spent his first five years? Or maybe his country of citizenship, where he has extended family?

But without any real hesitation, he answered “Norway!”

The flight attendant went on to ask other questions, and complimented him on speaking English so well. A bit funny for us to hear of course, although we later joked that he could have responded “thanks, it’s my second language!”

But as we thought back over it, we also reminded ourselves that Daniel probably does have more of a sense of home here in Norway than anywhere else. While there were 5 years in Ukraine, he really doesn’t remember that. And he loves the idea of America, but most of it is based on our conversations and not the 2 years he lived there. And then had a short 4 month stint in Canada.

But for the last 2 1/2 years, he has called Norway home. He has lived in this house longer than anywhere else. He knows his way around. He has good friends. We joke that he is like a little celebrity or politician, rarely walking into the town without someone recognizing him and saying hi. He feels at home here.

This is one of those interesting things that would not have crossed my mind as a child. In fact, I would likely not have given it much thought even five years ago. But for our kids, home really does become less about a place, and more about a feeling, a sense of belonging, the spot wherever they are together with immediate family.

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For more on our sense of ‘home’, check out THIS POST.

Now it feels like home!

Packing for Virginia (3 years ago last week)
There’s Santa!

Expat life often involves lots of suitcases. Lots of cleaning out and paring things down. Change. Moves. New places, new faces, and a search for a sense of home.

One of my childhood friends is preparing to move his family to Italy. His wife recently posted on Facebook, asking expat friends for suggestions on what to pack and what not to pack.

I really enjoyed reading the comments. And some stood out more than others.
A couple of people suggested something that I especially appreciated. They encouraged her to pick out a couple of items in her current home that they could take with them as a symbol of home. Then, no matter where they are, when they see these things, they’ll know they’re home.
We actually have one such item ourselves. He was a gift from Zack the first Christmas after we got married. He’s a beanie baby Santa. He stays out year round at our home. And he lives wherever we live.
Three homes in Georgia, then Virginia, Vancouver, Oslo and now Sandefjord.
Most people who see it probably think it’s weird that we have a Santa sitting out. But when I see him, I know I’m home.
If you were preparing to move overseas, what would you insist on taking with you? What is one thing you have that always lets you know you’re home?