What is home? What makes a place your home? Your home. Do we always feel at home when we are home? Are there different definitions of home?
I assume that most people find this question easy to answer. Maybe they don’t understand why I ask this question at all. Is she stupid? Home is the place where you were born, right? Where you have your family, your friends, your school, your oldest memories. And that will never change. Right? Right?
Five years ago I left what used to be my home. I left everything I knew, my family, my friends, my school, my language, my culture. My next home was 20 hours away, by plane. I didn’t miss my old home at all. What does that mean? That I don’t like my family and friends anymore? That I don’t need them in my life? Of course not. But my new home was my reality and I had to adapt to it. My new home became a part of me, with its people, its language and its culture. A couple of days ago my flatmate told me that she thinks it’s funny that I always say «In Chile we have…» and «In Chile we do…». I wasn’t aware of that at all, but it made me realize exactly how big a part of me that experience is. Of course I still get this warm feeling inside every time someone mentions Chile, but talking about it as my country is something else I think.
They say that coming back «home» after living abroad is the biggest culture shock you will ever get. That is definitely true, but exactly how big it is depends on you. I don’t think I ever managed to adapt entirely again. Maybe because I never stayed there for a significant period of time or maybe because I didn’t want to readapt. The last five years I have lived in four different countries. One of them is my official home, the one that is written in my passport, and the other three are places I used to call home once. Right now I don’t feel that any of them are my home. I feel rootless and confused. I feel that I’m running a marathon that never ends.
As I write this I can hear some of my friends’ and family members’ voices in my head saying I’m crazy. Saying that I should just stay in Norway. That I have travelled enough. That I have to focus on my studies. Maybe study something real? That I should save my money for the future. Maybe for a house? In Norway of course, no discussion. Why should I settle down in a place that some people decided was my home? Just because that’s what people do? Because of my family, my friends and the memories? Don’t I have the right to find my own home? Maybe home has a whole different meaning for some people. I actually want to settle down. Seriously. Don’t laugh! The thing is that I won’t settle down in a place where I’m not happy and then have to live with that for the rest of my life. I have the opportunity to travel the world, see new places, meet interesting people and try new things every single day, so that’s what I will do until I find my home.