Monday, October 17, 2011

Reader question: There's no place called home?

My biggest move ever: from my German home to my Australian home
I get quite a few emails from readers who have found my blog while looking for resources on reverse culture shock, and last week another reader, Allan, left a message on the Facebook page about surviving reverse culture shock - and he has an interesting question for me and for Not A Ballerina readers:
What if you have been living, working and traveling in so many countries for so long that you no longer feel like anywhere is home?
One thing that came to mind is a blog I follow called The Longest Way Home, which is one man's (years-long) search for a new place to call home. It's a fascinating idea - to have no ties to a place you grew up in and to decide to travel the globe (slowly) looking for the ultimate place to live. Perhaps that's an option for people like Allan?

As I wrote already to Allan, I guess I'm lucky because I always felt like Perth would be home again - mostly because I still have some close family members here - and because I consider it a good place for kids to grow up. That's not to say that I don't often feel a pull to some of my other "homes", and in particular, of course, to Germany, my husband's homeland (although if I asked him, I'm pretty sure he'd say Perth is his home!).

But I'm certainly nowhere near the position that Allan seems to find himself in - when you have been wandering the globe for so long that nowhere really feels like home. Are there any readers out there with some tips or advice, either from personal experience or from people they know who've found themselves "globally homeless"? Please let me (and Allan) know in the comments.


  1. My story isn't too extreme, but I do recall coming back to Australia after only 18 months away and forgetting where I needed to go to buy the things I needed. I couldnt remember if Target sold pillows, I was annoyed Woolworths didnt stock liquor an aisle over from the bread. I wanted the Sydney trains to run a bit closer (and more on time!)

  2. I believe home is where your heart is, and so it's not just a matter of how much you have travelled.

  3. @ Donna, I well remember having similar experiences (especially no alcohol in supermarkets - how annoying!).

    @ Jenny - in part I definitely agree with you - home is where my little family is - but I also sometimes feel that my heart is still with some of the fabulous friends I've made around the globe and so I have a few homes instead of just one.

  4. Global homelessness sounds to me like it is time to force yourself to stop travelling. That feeling of dislocation won't get better if you keep moving. Some times you just have to pick a place where near enough is good enough and put down roots. Over time it will feel like home. You may still feel like there are other homes out there but that is ok too.

  5. ( but then of course not all of us have that priveledged choice.....i.e millions of refugees)

  6. Interesting post. Also, an interesting problem to have. I think home is where you feel that sense of community and connection with people. Where the butcher and greengrocer know you by name. I read something interesting recently about third cultur kids. These are children of expats that where born in one country, grew up in another then try and find a place where they feel 'at home'.

    1. Interesting - I think it could definitely be tough to be a "third culture" kid. Must look that up.

  7. As a Third Culture Kid, I can tell that it is extremely difficult. Depression is much more common, and many never feel at home in one place. I'm on my 9th International move (7th country), and the most foreign place to me is still America. I love my life of a TCK, though, and now I couldn't imagine growing up in one or two places.
    Being a third culture kid means that you grow up outside of your parent's country. Home is both everywhere and nowhere. If you're interested in learning more, I strongly recommend:


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