Expat to Expat Q&A – September

In my travels on the blogosphere (which is really a nice way of saying whilst I was playing around on the internet doing absolutely nothing productive), I stumbled across this monthly Expat to Expat Q& A which asked some really interesting questions about fitting in into your new home which I thought would be fun to tackle here.

Found Love. Now What?

How do you fit in to your new culture without losing some of your identity?

Unlike most of the blogs I read by female expats I moved to Germany by myself and without knowing a single soul here. I used this big grand move to find my identity after being in a long-term relationship where I felt like I lost a large part of myself. Also I have the distinct luxury of living by myself where I don’t have to conform to anyone’s standard of what is deemed acceptable, culturally or otherwise.  If I want to fart loudly whilst walking around my apartment, I am free to do so, without worrying if I am going to offend anyone.  Still, even with all this space to be simply me, I still need in some way to conform to German society.  This is where I choose my battles.  Am I going to lose a part of my core self if I need an instruction manual to understand how the recycling works here? No, but I will most likely grow some grey hairs.  Am I going to lose a part of my core self if I have to bring a birthday cake to work even though it is my birthday? Again, no.  Yes, it is odd and feels very strange, but that is part of the fun of moving to a different country.  Also, if I want people to bring me cake for my birthday, this is where my expat friends fit in.  Living away from your home culture is all about compromise. You take part in that country’s culture and you share your home culture with them.  Expats run into problems when they think the way their home culture does things is superior to how they are done in their current country’s culture.  They are not.  They are simply different. Embrace them. Try them out.  You never know, you might actually prefer the new way of doing things.

What do you think your biggest trigger for homesickness is?

I feel like I totally fail as a typical expat here.  I read blogs upon blogs all of them talking about how much they miss home and how homesick they are most of the time – and to be honest, I’m really not.  Sure, there are things I miss from home, but I am not plagued by an overwhelming desire to go back. Still there are times when I miss the people, the food and the culture and they sneak up unaware and seem to have nothing to do with the time of year or big occasions. For instance the last time I felt the pangs of homesickness was watching the Election Night coverage and suddenly I missed the Australian wit & humour. But who on earth thinks Election time and suddenly feels homesick? Not me that’s for sure, but there I was watching the coverage and missing my home culture. That I think is the issue – it is the little things.  Things that you don’t even think would make you homesick, that take you by surprise and can throw you off balance. The big stuff you can plan to feel homesick for, which takes the edge of it somehow, but the little stuff you don’t even think would make you feel that way can knock you around a bit.

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6 thoughts on “Expat to Expat Q&A – September

  1. Thank you for linking up with us! I will say I fart loudly in my house which I am sure makes my husband overjoyed…but anyways I love how you used the phrase your core, it is such a great way to think of yourself in a new country how you are inside vs what you need to do to function outside!

    • Haha I also thought it was funny with the farting part – I’m embarrassed yet happy to say that my husband farts just as much and as loudly as I do, so I feel fully accepted. Hah!

      Great questions and great answers!

  2. ”Expats run into problems when they think the way their home culture does things is superior to how they are done in their current country’s culture. They are not. They are simply different. Embrace them. Try them out. You never know, you might actually prefer the new way of doing things.” AGREED. You read a lot of this on some expat blogs, and some of it comes across as very condescending and pointy fingerish. Makes me want to tear my hair out sometimes.

    Reading this made me think of the identity evolution my own German adventure has brought on; like you, I came here alone, of my own volition, purely for the sake of adventure, never giving a great deal of thought to staying here permanently. But I had to give it a great deal of thought when a relationship with a German popped up, changing pretty much everything and giving my situation a whole different context. Single, footloose and fancy free Australian checking out the way of life in Germany, to part of a bilingual, bi-cultural, bound-to-Germany relationship. I think I’m still adjusting!

  3. I’m loving these posts, we have all had such different experiences. I’m a lot like you – I came to England on my own, to ‘find’ myself, explore somewhere new and experience the world. How you were brave enough to do in another language really holds me in awe – did you sometime find with your shopping roulette that it wasn’t what you wanted, but delicious anyway?
    “Sure, there are things I miss from home, but I am not plagued by an overwhelming desire to go back. Still there are times when I miss the people, the food and the culture and they sneak up unaware and seem to have nothing to do with the time of year or big occasions.” I’m the same, and it’s great to find that I’m not alone!! Maybe it’s the head space you travel to that makes a difference?

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