I recently joined the group “You know you went to an International school when…” on Facebook. This list beings with “ You can’t answer the question: ‘Where are you from?'” I know I have face down many preplexed stares at my difficulty in answering such a simple question. “Do you mean where I was from originally? or where I moved from? Where I currently live?” It’s not such a simple question after all. On the list there was also “7) Your life story uses the phrase “Then we went to…” five times (or six, or seven times…).
8) You speak with authority on the quality of airline travel.” I have finally re-found my tribe. The tribe that really has a hard time committing to the word ‘home.’ I usually find that people become even more confused when I tell them that it doesn’t really matter where I live. And yes, I do have one of the thickest multi-book passports around. And yes, my close friends are scattered all over the globe but that seems normal to me.
I’ve picked up some very handy survival tactics and thoughts over the years. I hope this might make relocation for others easier. (And please feel free to contribute if you think of anything else)
1) Making Friends. This is something I struggled with in my childhood, moving with my family every few years. You are plopped into a new school. You know no-one and you really don’t have that much time to make friends. (You know you will be out of there in 2 years) I’ve learnt that for me a few close friends serve me better than a whole lot of acquaintances. How to get close? Open up. Talk about the things that really matter to you rather than just the weather and what’s on TV. Once you have opened up, you new friend will open up too. Trust is a huge part of this.
2) Keeping friends. You don’t necessarily need to live close to your friends to be friends. Some of my best friends I see once a year. But I know that good friends are valuable and because I am so far from my family, my friends are my family. I try to make an effort to keep in touch.
3) Keep an open mind. Be flexible. There is no right way. There’s always good to be found in every situation. Even if it is very different from what you are used to. Who knows…you may learn something (hopefully you do)
4) Pack light. Why drag all your stuff with you? Make some space for new experiences and ‘things.’ Don’t surround yourself entirely with things from ‘the old place’ that will make you feel homesick.
5) Home is a feeling…not a place. (well for me anyways)