Expatriation : how to feel like home ?

Let’s talk about something who drove me crazy since I arrived in Kuwait. How to feel like home in a country you don’t know ? It’s weird to leave our family, our friends and our habits to move to another place. So I thought a lot about it and I will give you few advices to not do the same mistakes I did.

Home far from home

It took me time before saying that Kuwait was home. To be honest, I had to take a loan at the bank to buy a car.

To adopt a cat wasn’t enough.

To move three times wasn’t enough.

To buy my furnitures and to decorate my flat wasn’t enough.

To find my favorite restaurant wasn’t enough. My favorite coffee wasn’t enough. To find my favorite place wasn’t enough.

I had to take a loan. And honestly, it’s still not enough because I feel like home for five years only.

My VISA and my job contract are stick together. I can’t have one without the other. My contract is renewed every year so it’s hard to feel like home when you think that everything can stop the next year.

In February, I have to sign a paper saying that I will continue in September. But I also can receive a paper saying that no, I won’t be at the school in September.

So I took a risk and I took a loan at the bank. So now, when I am talking about home, I am talking about my small flat in Salmiya, close to the sea.

What about France ?

But when I am going to France, I go back to my parents’.

Should I say I go back or just I go to my parents ? It’s hard to choose the correct verb but you know that : words are really important.

Anyways, no matter the verbe I choose, my room is the same than before Kuwait. My dressing-room didn’t change and my books are still here. Even if there is less clothes and less books, everything is still there. So, when I am in France, I sleep in the bed I had when I was sixteen.

I see my friends and my family. Nothing change that much. Not as much as my life in Kuwait is different than my life in France. Their life now is more or less the same than their life before. So because I am coming back home, they don’t know really how to act. Because I am just like… a missing piece that go back to the right position. But I feel like a broken missing piece that doesn’t fit anymore.

I am at my parents’ for holidays. I take rest, I sleep a lot, eat well, I enjoy it but when you spend your holidays in the room you had when you were a kid, it’s kind of weird.

Home is not only about a flat

I was talking about it with a friend who conclude saying but if you don’t feel home anywhere, then you are home everywhere. I don’t know if I have expatriates who read this blog but how it was for you ?

How do you feel home when you have to start over at 27 years old ? I meet people everyday and they have no idea about who I am and what I did before. Sometimes it’s good but it’s hard to be friends with people who don’t have the same references.

It’s hard to translate Instagram account. Or… how can I talk about the fight Booba – Kaaris at Orly to someone who is not French ? Making jokes is harder when it’s not in your first language.

Same for the house. I arrived in Kuwait with one luggage. 30 kilos allowed, a little bit more because I was with my mom. But impossible to take books, impossible to bring plates or glasses to feel like home. Ok, I have to confess: I took a blanket that smelled like my-house-in-France.

The first year, I was in a furnished appartement, the second year I had to furnish the new flat and now I am in another flat and I am thinking about buying new furnitures to feel more like home. Step by step, I feel like home in this flat and in this country.

How to feel like home ?

So, three years after, I am ready for a new back to school, at home, in Kuwait. There are my advices, based on my own experience and my mistakes.

  • Choose a good flat. You will arrive in a new country. You will be alone. You don’t know anyone there. You might spend a lot of time in your flat. Choose it wisely. Choose one you like and where you feel good in. If you have a furnished flat, don’t hesitate to decorate it with few things to make it as your place. Pillow on the sofa, books, dvd, photos on the wall…
  • Do something in the country. I am not talking about being a volunteer in an association ! But don’t see the time you spend in this country as a barrier. As I said, I have a one year contract. It means that this back to school can be the last one, but … I potentially can spend my whole life in Kuwait ! It took me two years to understand that.
  • Meet new people. Colleagues, neighbors, friends of colleagues, people you meet at the gym. Go out, talk to people. They will never be the friends you have in your country but they can be really good friends. The goal is to not spend your time on your phone, waiting for calls and texts from your country. Obviously, the link you have with your homeland is important, but you need a balance. Your life now is in the new country. For now.
  • Have a routine ! Ok, for this one, two different teams. First one who don’t need routine, and people like me who need one to feel good. I already talked about it but to have a routine can make you feel kind of safe. Actually, it works for me. It’s as if I could control something in this new life.
  • Don’t be shy : go out and discover new places. To discover coffees and restaurants is the best way to understand how a country works. And you, it will help you to find new places. And finding new places you like is making like home the whole country !


Something to say ? :)