Having more than one home – and why it’s ok

Having more than one home – and why it’s ok

By Kirsty Smith

The list of pros and cons about expat life is never ending; not being there for big events, missing family and friends, and constantly feeling out of place but equally at home in your chosen city. There is no right or wrong way to do it; everyone has different attitudes towards moving away from the place they grew up. It can depend on your family situation, the length of time you’ve been away and even your level of patriotism for your home country. Here’s why I don’t think there’s anything wrong with calling more than one place ‘home’.

Home has so many meanings. For some people, it’s the place they grew up, while others would say it’s the place they live now. Many people would say that home isn’t a house, it’s the people inside the house – your partner, your children or the people you grew up around. And then there’s the place where you feel at home.

It can be particularly difficult to adjust to the idea of a new home when you move away for the first time, it might even take you a few years to finally feel settled.

But soon you’ll forget that you ever lived anywhere else and going to your childhood home will take on a whole new meaning. Of course, it isn’t the same for everyone. Some people are ‘home-birds’ and will never move out of their home city because, well, why should they? Maybe they’re scared, maybe they’re too comfortable, maybe they just really like where they grew up.

For me, home has many meanings. I lived in the same house, in the same city, with the same people until I was 18 and made my bid for freedom. At first, Edinburgh was just the place I went to university, but after a few years I began referring to ‘uni home’ and ‘home home’. On my year abroad, Paris felt like home within days and Zürich quickly became somewhere that I new I would live again – my ‘adult home’. Fast forward a few years and I’m now very settled in Switzerland where I am attempting to set the foundations for my future.

So does feeling settled in Zürich make Scotland any less ‘home’? I would argue that it doesn’t, because Scotland will always be the place that grew up. I imagine I will always look and sound Scottish to a certain extent. When I book a flight ‘home’, I’ll probably be talking about a flight to Scotland. But just because I still think of it as home doesn’t mean I ever want or plan to live there again. Just like once you’ve read a chapter in a book, you might read it again, but it might be closed after the first time.

If you are like me and have multiple places to call home (to whatever extent), you should be grateful. It means you have had the chance to live in more than once place where you felt safe, accepted and comfortable. Who knows, maybe my list of ‘homes’ will grow as the years go on… and if it doesn’t, there are certainly worse places to call home forever than Switzerland!

[Images courtesy of Kirsty Smith]

Kirsty is currently based in Zürich, Switzerland where she works as and English Language Assistant, translator and writer. She completed her MA in French and German with Translating and Interpreting at Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh before making the move to Switzerland to start her adult life on the right tracks. Once the working week is over, Kirsty can be found reading in her favorite café or on a train exploring all that Switzerland has to offer. Visit www.littleladygoesglobal.wordpress.com or www.twentysomethingbloggers.wordpress.com for more! 

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