Last week I was invited by Debbie Wong to share a piece of traveling writing at her book launch event. She invited other local travel bloggers Jai of Savoir There and Henry of Fotoeins Fotopress to share their stories as well. They both shared beautiful stories on Cambodia and Chile – click over to their blogs to read them. It was a nerve wracking experience to say the least, but I’m glad I did it.
I decided to share a piece written over the course of three years about the meaning of home and how it changed for me as I moved to Budapest, got comfortable in the city and then moved away. It was taken from a series of blog posts that I had written and then pieced together into one story which I’m sharing with you today.
Searching for Home Between the Mountains of Canada and the Plains of Hungary
When you’re living abroad, you meet the most interesting people and have the most interesting conversations. The other night, I was having dinner with people from all corners of the world. All of them expats, all of whom have been living in Budapest for months when the topic of home came up in conversation.
One said that home is where their friends were and since the majority of their friends had left their hometown that wasn’t really home anymore. Instead, they consider Budapest to be their home, where they feel the most comfortable.
This got me thinking. Is home the place where you grew up? Or where your family is? Is home where you feel most comfortable? Or perhaps where you have a job? Where you can see a future?
Where is my home? Is it in Vancouver where I grew up? Or Victoria where I went to university? Or is it where I am now, Budapest?
Is it possible to have multiple homes?
Vancouver is where I spent most of my life. I grew up there and lived there briefly before going abroad. I love the city dearly with its glorious snowcapped mountains, multiculturalism and openness. Vancouver is familiarity, comfort and family.
Victoria is where I gained my independence and where I started on my journey of finding myself. Moving out for university was probably the best decision I could have made. For a while, Victoria truly was home. Victoria is independence, discovery and finding my passions.
And now I’m in Budapest. This is the longest I’ve been away from Canada and what I have always considered “home.” For now, Budapest still feels temporary and that home is Vancouver. I love being in Budapest and I really like the city, but there is a feeling that isn’t quite right here.
In less than a week, I’ll be aboard a flight bound for Vancouver. When I think about leaving Budapest, even for this short time, I get a mixture of feelings. On one hand, I’m excited to be going back. I’ve been away for so long and I’m looking forward to seeing my family and friends, to rediscovering the city.
But on the other hand, I’m utterly terrified of going home. I’m afraid of the changes in the city, in my friends, in me. Will things be strange? Will I still be able to relate to my friends and family? How will I explain everything that I’ve experienced in Budapest to them?
And I’m also sad. As much as the last few months have been difficult with the loss of my job and getting sick abroad, Budapest is home to me now. I have wonderful friends and great memories in this city.
Most of all I’m sad to be leaving the budding relationship I have with my Hungarian boyfriend. I adore him, but will we last the couple months of separation? More than anything he has made this place home for me.
Maybe what makes a place home is the people know you and the network of support that you create for yourself, after all.
I had originally gone to Vancouver knowing that I was returning to Europe. I had a job, a place to live, and a full closet. I had a life in Budapest. But of course, life doesn’t always turn out the way that you plan it to be and I had to stay in Vancouver for a little while longer. Eventually I found a job and settled down.
Now, almost a year later, I’m starting to struggle. I have this ongoing urge to pack up my life and just go, but at the same time I don’t. I’m bored with the monotony of day to day life and yet, the comforts of home are slowly seeping it. I’m ready for change and adventure. Can it be as simple as buying a plane ticket to the other side of the world?
I was able to do it 3 years ago, so why can’t I just do it again?
I’m neither here nor there. Half of my worldly possessions are currently at my boyfriend’s house on the other side of the world. Long distance relationships are hard and the nine hour time difference makes it difficult to really talk and connect. Seeing each other every 7-8 months just doesn’t cut it.
Maybe home isn’t where you grew up or where your family is. But then, what does make a place home? I love Vancouver for its beautiful mountains, diverse food and multiculturalism. Yet, I love Budapest for who I am when I’m there and for its edgy and exciting vibe. When I’m in one city, I miss the other. So where do I belong?
On my Twitter profile, I list my location as both Vancouver and Budapest. Is this what the rest of my life is going to be? Destined to be torn between two very beautiful, but very different cities? For now I consider both as home and while I’m currently spending more of my time in Vancouver, who is to say that this won’t change in the future? And I’m okay with that.
Have you struggled with figuring out where is home? What is home to you?