I have been living in the Far East for the past 14 months. I have had an amazing time here, travelling within South Korea and to neighbouring China; bungee jumping; getting a couple of tattoos; meditating; yoga; partying and, and, and…
My time here had originally been planned to last no longer than 12 months, a ‘gap year’ of sorts; however my year has now been extended by another 10 months. And while I was ecstatic about my new position, I am feeling the strain of being here an extra 2 months, finding that the cultural idiosyncrasies that I used to deem amusing, are now becoming ever more maddening.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love this country and am happy I am here for a few more months, but I find that the longer I am away from home, the less tolerant I am of the differences. My home is in a coastal city in South Africa, which is small, but beautiful. It has wonderful weather, people, food and an amazing lifestyle. And while I am aware that the Republic has its issues, I find that being away from home has made them seem minute in comparison to the wonders that can be found there. Yet, I am not ready to move back home. I just need to head home to tap into the goodness of it all, which will keep me going in my new peninsula abode for at least another 6 months.
Being an expat, I find myself wondering how fellow expatriates can live here for 6 – 10 years without going home and still remain sane. As I listen to their reasons, I realise that perhaps what makes a place “home” is not necessarily where you were born, or brought up or where your immediate family currently reside. Perhaps it is where you can find unconditional love, support and acceptance.
For me, that is where my family is. And that happens to be in the country where I was born and bred. And so it would be fitting that I would need a periodic visit home in order to centre myself, building up my self-confidence and reminding myself of why I left and that I can return anytime.
So it doesn’t matter whether I head to the East or the West, the place I call home will always be best.