East, West, Home’s…Where?

Home is where the heart is.

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What if your heart is not in just one place, though? What if you’ve left pieces of it in every continent?

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In my first article for Lexiophiles I talked to you about Erasmus and how it could change your life. For my last one, I’d like to tell you something you might not know about the Erasmus generation: we are all essentially homeless.

Whenever I meet any of my friends who, like me, have lived in different places around the world during the years, the conversation always revolves around the question “where now?” Those who have a basis, a place to call home, with friends and family and a more or less stable job, are jealous of those who have no idea where they might be next year, once they’ve finished their studies or their contract comes to an end, while these ones are jealous of anyone who has a home to go back to.

There is no way to win this, I’d say. Once you’ve seen how vast the world is, you can never be satisfied with as little as one town, city, country or even continent – there is so much more out there, and you only have a lifetime to see it. And it’s not just the buildings and the landscapes; it’s the people, the customs, the music, the food, the different colours of the skyline and the different smells of the countryside, the sounds of a waking city and the lights of a raging nightlife. Every time you move to a new place, meet people you like, get a job you enjoy, decorate your apartment to make it feel like home, and think to yourself “this will be my home now”, there comes a day when it’s all so familiar it’s suffocating: you have to get out. If you’re nodding silently, you know what I’m talking about. If not, I hope one day you will.

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It’s not all fun, let me tell you. Moving around all the time means you are always homesick; there’s always friends you’re missing, places you wish you could visit again – every few years you find yourself alone, a stranger in an unfamiliar place, having to start all over again. And there are those moments of complete disorientation, when you’re walking down the street and the sound of children laughing and shouting transports you to India, in a park, surrounded by children playing cricket, the sun burning on your skin, and you think that if you just turn your head you’ll see a face you haven’t seen in years. Or you’re doing the dishes in your temporary home when a song comes up on the radio and suddenly you’re in the London tube and you are singing that song along with someone whose face is becoming more of a blur with every passing day.

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I’m leaving Hamburg in a few days and I know that I will be getting flashbacks like that every other day for months. I look forward to them! I never feel like I am returning home: there is no such thing. I have a “home” in every continent; not only in the places I’ve visited, but also in the places where the people I’ve met, loved and eventually had to say goodbye to, are now living. Every time I set off to a new destination people ask me “aren’t you done yet” and “when are you going to settle down”. I hope I will never settle down. And I know I will never “be done”. If you are happy with your tiny part of the world, you are the one who has a problem, not me: you probably suffer from some serious lack of imagination.



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