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August 24, 2013 / A Mindful Traveler

Home From Home

I first encountered the phrase “home from home,” while I was living in Ireland.  I had moved there from my native United States to attend college, a sometimes  challenging choice that ended up being the best decision of my life.  There’s an important difference between this phrase and “home away from home,” its American equivalent.  The Irish version suggests it’s possible to find a new home somewhere, as many Irish people have throughout history.  The American version suggests that the new home, by being “away”, is somehow lesser than the original one.

As an expatriate, I’ve come to find the Irish version more apposite; living abroad makes the initially unfamiliar come to feel familiar, and the initially familiar become less so.  Yesterday was my first day running errands since I returned to Korea.  From the driver of the first bus that I took, to the grill man at the kebab shop where I ate lunch, to the bank tellers I dealt with, faces seemed familiar in a way they hadn’t on my recently completed trip to the United States.  Granted, two months, rather than ten had passed between my visits to the Korea as opposed to the United States, and in those ten months I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with these individuals a number of times.

Added to these pleasant experiences was my reacquaintance with Korea’s legendarily friendly and efficient customer service, which resulted in my receiving two free bottles of water on a very hot day.  (The first, I should note, came courtesy of the aforementioned grill man, who I think appreciated my thanking him in his native Turkish with a hearty “teşekkür ederim.”)  Nonetheless, what made me feel most at home was an entirely random interaction with a fellow expatriate American while waiting on line at the bank.  My new friend happened to open his wallet to reveal a picture of the Triple Buddha as he was searching for card to give the teller, leading to a conversation we both hope will result in our meeting again.

What has made you feel comfortable while traveling or living abroad?

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3 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. foreignsanctuary / Aug 24 2013 11:33 am

    I currently live in Taiwan and I think learning Chinese has helped me tremendously. Plus, immersing myself in the culture has been very rewarding as well!

    • A Mindful Traveler / Aug 24 2013 11:41 am

      Thank you very much for your comment. I agree that learning the language and immersing yourself in the culture are the absolute best ways to fit in… and the rewards are tremendous! 🙂

  2. armenfirman / Aug 24 2013 8:21 pm

    What are the odds?
    Follow synchronicity. It will lead to great things.

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