When I first moved to Europe some 28 years ago, I struggled. I was young, hip, and daring and chose this step myself. Yet I found myself making cultural faux-pas, struggling with the language and being ultimately homesick.
On a great day, I would sit in a café with a friend, sipping my drink, feeling intrepid — I owned the world and was proud of all of my adventures. Then, out of the blue, I would stumble on a silly challenge that would throw me:
- a postal worker who scolded me
- a shop owner who asks me, "How can you stand being American with your President?" (As if I have a personal impact on Washington D.C.)
- a doctor who lectures me on how his health care system is the best, and I should be happy he is not giving me the medicine I am begging him for to relieve my symptoms
Any of these things could and have sent me into a fury. Whenever this happens, all I want to do is go home.
My trick all of these years is... I do just that; I go home. Okay so my home is down the block, but I shut the curtains, call a girlfriend or my Mom and just pretend I am in my bedroom somewhere else. I find a good book and take the day or evening off from my life abroad. It’s my own little virtual reality.
The saying “my home is my castle” has taken on a new meaning. My home is not only my castle — it is my haven.