Just where do I belong?

Changing country quite often means changing lifestyle as well but what about the changes that take place, inside the individual? Will you become a different person, or should you fight it?

Arriving in a foreign environment can be very stressful, at first. Even the simplest of things (buying the right mobile, asking for directions, or trusting the car salesman), can add to that immediate feeling of disorientation. The immediate question that may spring to mind is 'have I done the right thing'? What people might not realise is that, by moving to a foreign environment, you yourself are a different person. In your own country, you knew exactly what you were doing, your diary may have been 'set in stone', you knew how to get quickly to any place within your comfort zone and you weren't afraid to widen that zone either. You knew who your friends were and who weren't, you knew you. All of a sudden, that comforting control you had over yourself, no longer exists. The guards have been forced down and anyone can get in, without you having the ability to give 'off the cuff' retorts, or argue your corner.

In England, I felt as though I was a 'somebody', with all the pressures that came with it, all over which I had good control and a clear understanding. On arriving in Spain, it eventually dawned on me that I had (in my eyes, might I add) become a 'nobody'. Wow, was that difficult to accept. I didn't need a diary (as a result, I struggled to know what day it was), my comfort zone had shrunk to a tight box, I didn't know if I had any friends and I was now in a re-active situation, rather than an 'all-knowing' advancing lifestyle.

So, what goes on in the head? Time allows you to develop new knowledge but this doesn't happen overnight. Even the slightest thing, like being able to give someone directions starts to mean so much, as you are beginning to develop a new comfort zone. Knowing the best place to park in town again increases your confidence. Recognising someone in town (even though you may never ever have spoken to that person), gives a warm feeling of belonging. When people start asking you to help them with something, it's a good feeling - and maybe you're starting to be a 'somebody' again. But, the strange thing is, becoming in demand as a helper has its pressures, a sure reminder of the country you left behind! If you find work, even if it is only for a few hours a week, it does feel good….. and then out comes the diary, to keep track of things. The good old brain then starts to compare - 'before' versus 'now' versus the 'pending future'. Mmmmm..... Do I really need to remember what day of the week it is?

In the early stages of your new life, you find that your returns to your first country are referred to as ‘going home’. When the same trip becomes ‘going to England’, you stop in your tracks and question what you have just said….. .

Just where do I belong?

Comments (1)

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6:53am Tue 13 Nov 12

ozpat says...

You belong where ever your heart feels settled. We have been in Australia for seven years now and as you mentioned, initially the UK was referred to as "home". Home now is Australia, because this is where we are happy and settled. Our life now is what we set it out to be and very hard work it has been too. Finding your role, habits & routines I feel is a natural human behaviour, we strive for normality and consequently feel settled and content once we start achieving a state of contentment. Australia became "home" once we stopped comparing, contrasting and feeling what we had was right and this new lifestyle as wrong. Whether it is Spain or Australia a change in culture requires a lot of personal adaptation, dedication and flexibility mentally to cope. So where do I belong ? the answer for me is I am a Brit who belongs in Australia!
You belong where ever your heart feels settled. We have been in Australia for seven years now and as you mentioned, initially the UK was referred to as "home". Home now is Australia, because this is where we are happy and settled. Our life now is what we set it out to be and very hard work it has been too. Finding your role, habits & routines I feel is a natural human behaviour, we strive for normality and consequently feel settled and content once we start achieving a state of contentment. Australia became "home" once we stopped comparing, contrasting and feeling what we had was right and this new lifestyle as wrong. Whether it is Spain or Australia a change in culture requires a lot of personal adaptation, dedication and flexibility mentally to cope. So where do I belong ? the answer for me is I am a Brit who belongs in Australia! ozpat
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