When you move to a new place, or even when you’ve traveled extensively, you go through a range of emotions. At first there’s excitement coupled with this intense curiosity to explore new surroundings. Then there’s getting acclimated to your new home for however long that takes. And then you start to long for tiny piece of familiarity even if you’re happy where you are.
Settling down in a foreign place exposes you to new people, new cultures, and alternate ways of living. It also lets you reflect on what you are leaving behind somewhere else. This reflection isn’t a bad thing – it’s just a reminder of who you are, your memories, the people who matter in your life, and the reasons behind what makes “home” a home.
What I’ve realized in the last few years after moving and traveling to different countries, is that home isn’t defined by geography. Whenever people ask where I feel most at home (which is usually a comparison between The Netherlands vs. the U.S.), I think about family, friends and where I am happiest. I firmly believe that home is what you make of it and that home is where the people most important to you are. There’s a slightly cliché expression (but I can agree with it) that “home is where the heart is.”
You are not tied to one place eternally nor do you have to always be on the move to find, or return to, a home. When in school it’s easy to feel a sense of community as your friends are constantly around you. After you graduate college and people spread around for new work, you’re excited yet overwhelming nostalgia hits you. It happened to me. There I was out in the real world and starting a new chapter in life, and yet felt as if I had to rebuild that feeling of home – even though I was staying in the same city. It was slightly difficult at times (but a necessary transition), and I’ve learned that meaningful people and great experiences will follow you no matter where you go.
New York City remains a relatively new chapter and adventure in my life. I’ve had my sights set on this city for years, and find a natural vibrancy to New York like nowhere else. It’s an empowering city. People here are incredibly driven and the friends I’ve made are creative, passionate and enjoy life to the fullest.
How do you define where home is? Has anyone else felt a similar nostalgia? How has travel affected you? Where are your favorite places to go or retreat?