Feeling at home isn’t an easy task when you move countries and it’s difficult to balance your new and old lives. When everything single thing in your life changes I think it is important to have some familiar things to help with the transition, whether it is familiar possessions or a familiar routine. There is a fine balance between wanting to keep some things normal without replicating your old life and wanting to embrace your new surroundings without losing your identity completely.
Culture shock is something many expats experience and although it can manifest itself in many ways it is often a feeling of being completely overwhelmed by your unfamiliar surroundings, which results in feelings of extreme tiredness and anxiety. Making our home a haven and surrounding ourselves with familiar things was my way to help us feel at home. I allowed myself two boxes in the container for things I wanted to bring with us rather than things we needed to bring with us such as my collection of candleholders. None of them were particularly valuable in a monetary sense but many of them were gifts and I love them this one is my favourite, bought for me by my dear friend E.
It was amazing how our house began to feel like a home the minute our container arrived and we began to hang our pictures and put our ‘things’ around the house.
So here are my top three suggestions to help you feel at home.
1. Routine – There are certain parts of our daily routine that I continued when we moved that helped to give our new lives a sense of normalcy. For example, we try as much as possible to have dinner together every night, I do my housework on a Friday so the house is clean for the weekend and I drove the kids to school. Although change is often a good thing it is comforting to everyone involved especially young children when you keep a few things the same.
2. When you plan for your move allow some space for your favourite possessions to put about your new home. Outside the home everything you hear, see, smell and taste will be different to what you are used to so a few familiar things in your home gives you familiar place to retreat to.
3. Remember your other senses too and enjoy familiar food, sounds and smells. I like to burn vanilla candles and always have so that fragrance makes me feel at home.
Those that don’t embrace and accept their new culture and surroundings will ultimately never feel truly at home in their new country. A few creature comforts will help in the meantime, like a meal made to the same recipe, or a old blanket to curl up in but at the end of the day only time will make you feel completely at home.
I am linking this up with a new Molly’s new Meme The Expat Experience over at The Move to America. Click on the badge below to check out how other expats made themselves feel at home.