Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Answering the Question

Emily left this question in the comments yesterday and I had two other people ask for the answer, so I thought I'd do a little follow-up:

How do you feel about going back at the end of hubbie's postdoc research?

I think I made it sound like I love Graz and don't like the U.S. and that's not the case.

Like I said, living over here has been sorta like a sabbatical in the sense that we were totally out of our comfort zones and were forced to think about everyday things in a new light.  We are away from friends, family and all familiarity.  I don't think our life here is the same as what life is like for a typical Austrian our age that's grown up here.  They probably experience a lot of the same things I was saying about the States...we just don't because we're foreigners and without a family, social circle or even a car.  It makes it different.  A lot of it is the culture, though, and I think Austrians would definitely have some shock going to America, but it's also our situation and not just Graz.  Am I making sense? I'm giving you quite a long drawn-out explanation here!

There are so many wonderful things about home too, of course.  My interview questions were sort of loaded and I didn't ask what people missed about home sorta assuming it was more obvious.  Family and friends being #1.  That's the HUGE biggie mama.  The food.  The friendliness.  The job opportunities.  Driving at least some of the time.  Better stores.  Being able to wear heels and wedges easily.  ha.  (see, I'm not saying I'm not into some consumerism.)

A woman from my English club spoke to us last week (she's an Opera singer that's recently relocated to Graz, but been a European expat for 25 years now) and she started out with this:

The second most miserable people are expats.
The first?  Expats that have just moved back home.

We laughed.  I haven't experienced it yet, but I already know it won't be 100% easy just because it's 'home'.
Some people say it's harder than moving to the foreign country.

I have discussed this with several of my friends here and what it boils down to is:
There will never be one perfect place that embodies everything you love.  You will never be able to reconcile your love for two totally different places.  You will always have a small yearning for the other place.  And, that's ok.  We should consider ourselves lucky to have the experiences and have 'two loves'.   (Hey, this ain't men.)

So, my answer is:

I have mixed feelings about moving home.  I have no idea where we'll go, so we aren't really moving 'home' anyways.  It will be another start.  And, it will be great.  Really, a lot of it is what you make of it.  And I would like to move somewhere a little more European in city set-up, but we'll see what happens.

Do I sound like Pollyanna?  I'm so not.  Whoa...moving abroad really has done things to me!


Elizabeth Ann (Elizabeth Ann's Recipe Box said...

wow! :-) very well said! :-)

Kimberly said...

Totally get u! I'm right with ya. I hear ya loud and clear. Can I copy and paste?! :)

The Rigoloso's said...

Although I am not an expat, I can totally relate with much of this post. You said it so well and so beautifully. Thanks for this. xo

Rebecca said...

Agreed- i have been trying to process my time in Graz as I prepare to leave next week, and it is hard knowing that the people I am closest to at home will not be able to relate to the last five months of my life.

Anonymous said...

A really interesting answer. Thanks for that. There is a reverse culture shock allegedly. I wouldn't know, I haven't been back to the UK and I am not going back either!
I think it will be exciting for you making another new start but because you've had this experience of going somewhere completely new that will help with the settling in process wherever you end up.
I think living abroad offers you a whole range of opportunities that are different to what you are used to. I have certainly done things here I would never have had the chance to do, or even imagined doing if I had stayed in the UK.

Monica said...

Loved the post, and that quote- so true!


Anonymous said...

Carolyn, Your post was great....I couldn't agree more with the statement about being miserable after returning back home. I've been through that experience twice in my life and it is certainly harder than having a new start abroad. In fact, I hope I'll move again some day and I won't have to move back. Carolyn, next time you move it will be new and exciting since you might end up anywhere in the US.

Rachel, first draft down! said...

Hey! Don't you have another 18 months to go in Graz? Don't got back to the States, stay in Europe! Being a Brit, as opposed to a Yank (can I say that?) & therefore being a lot closer to Europe AND having previously lived and worked in 3 European countries AND technically already being able to speak the language, Graz was still a major culture shock for ME & I could not understand a word they said so don't worry, you guys have started off in the deep end! Watching German tv the other night, an Austrian woman was SUBTITLED so German viewers would understand her, it really IS another language.

PS I knew I'd settled in when I started referring to the German Ice Hockey team as 'our side' :p

PPS Come to Heidelberg, or Munich!

Sara said...

Great quote... though I don't feel like we are miserable, but rather just feel like no one else understands how we feel over certain things. For me, struggling to find my career path is hard. Finding true local friends is challenging. But the nice thing about blogging is I quickly learn, I'm not alone. And then it doesn't feel so miserable so-to-speak. I've never thought about how things will be when we return, but that's probably because when we do, it will be a new city as we won't be returning from where we left.

I didn't think your post came across as being unhappy. I appreciated hearing how you felt! Love reading about your adventures.

Anonymous said...

I love this post! Reminds me so much of the one I wrote about NYC and Texas. I like this:

"There will never be one perfect place that embodies everything you love. You will never be able to reconcile your love for two totally different places. You will always have a small yearning for the other place. And, that's ok."

So very true. Unfortunately, a lot of people on the outside are not ok with it. They want you to choose because of their own discomfort....but that's a whole other blog post :) When are you moving back?

Julie said...

Right on, Mama! I took part in a workshop held by Bryan Kest (all in English and heavenly) in May and one of my very most favorite things he says is: "Be where you're at, 'cause you're already there". I think no matter where we are, out of our home country or right smack dab in the middle of it, life in itself has so much to offer. Granted, living abroad has that vacay feel to it, but home is home...and a home with awesome Tex-Mex at the blink of an eye is quite a good place to be ;-)!

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- Carolyn