Discussion Topics

Going home for the holidays: No one cares about your international life!

December 20, 2013


I always hope that somebody will care every year I go home, but every year most of them don’t. (Ha ha!)

210651_10151500784561587_1997476445_o It is not because they really don’t care though, it is mostly because most just don’t fully understand the international/expat life you are living.  Very rarely do the conversations that I have relate to my life living abroad.  Hardly do we even talk about the amazing trips that I have been on the past year! (Oh, the things I have seen!  It is hard to talk about your trips without giving an impression of bragging though.)

We indeed live a life that is a foreign world to us, so different from where we were born and raised.  On the other hand, so many people in this world still just stay living very close to where they were raised.  When I look at my home-country friends and relatives, most are living in the same city they grew up in or in the city just next to that one. (Why do we feel the need to escape our home towns?)

And of course, so many people are saying that such a high percentage of people in the United States are without a passport (is it true for the American people you know??).  Being that these friends and family that you know maybe haven’t had so much experience living abroad or even traveling abroad, you would think that would make them even more interested in your international life…but that isn’t always the case.

I guess when you go home, you spend most of your time just reminiscing about the good times of the past, of when you used to live there maybe.  Most of the conversations you have also are just normal ones, talking about day to day things (e.g. the weather, etc.).66111_10151517230426587_214789253_n

Sometimes your friends and family dominate the conversation with updates from their life, which of course you are curious about as well.  You want to get the lowdown on their lives being that you are only there visiting with them for typically such a short time.  I mean they haven’t seen you in awhile as well, and they are excited to see you and catch you up on their lives.

Though it is truly so nice to go back home and catch up with everyone, little do your friends and family realize or understand the reverse culture shock you may be experiencing when you go back home, even if it is the 8th time you have come home in 10 years (let’s say) that you’ve been abroad.

International school teachers live a dual life basically.  The fact is…that we live most of the year in our host country; eating our host country food, hanging out with our host country friends, being surrounded by a foreign language and culture, living in our host country apartment, using and thinking in a foreign currency, etc.  When you visit your home country, you really want to tell people in your host country about those things!  Some will listen though, when it comes up naturally in the conversation, but it is usually a fleeting moment…not giving you time to share as much as you would like.

This article is not meant to make fun of or hate on our home country friends and family, but it meant to express our feelings of how an expat teacher might feel and how they might think in their head as they go home for the holidays.  When you are living abroad for so long, it is so nice (and important) to see and catch up with your family and old friends.  How do you feel when you go home to your host country, in your conversations with your friends and family about your life living abroad?