A friend recently asked me if I didn’t get tired of moving around so much and if I’d not prefer to settle down permanently in the UK.
On the whole expat life is exciting, fun and at times, glamorous. Expat life turns the mundane into the educational, the fascinating or the downright hilarious. Trips to the post office in Switzerland made me cry with desperation, but also laughter. ‘No madam, you need to fill out the form with this pen. You must do this sitting on this seat here…’ Grocery shopping in Angola involved haggling with street hawkers, ‘No thank you, I don’t need an axe, but I’d love some bananas… How much?!’
As an expat in your host country you become characterised by your nationality, and in your birth country you become known by your destination. ‘Ahhh, you are the one from the UK…’ or ‘This is Nina, you know, the one who lives in Damascus…’ Your expat life is your definable feature. If you’re not careful, expat life becomes your identity.
So what happens when you return back home? You become homesick for your expat life.
Sure, I love being back ‘home’ in the UK right now, but it’s hard to enjoy life to its fullest when you’re not sure how long you’re staying for. Of course I’ve unpacked and photos hang on our walls, but somehow I’m still living in expat purgatory. No doubt I’ll be off again soon, and like most expats, I won’t get much notice period.
‘Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift to savour’, some intellect once told me.
Meanwhile my three year old confuses expat life and our frequent travels with holidays. But perhaps he has a point. To him, life is one big holiday. ‘Are we going on holiday today, Mummy?’ he asks.
I’m not sure when we’ll be moving, and I can’t help stressing about it a little, but one thing’s for certain, the holiday starts today.