Long-term readers will know that every now and then I rave on about reverse culture shock – that awkward feeling you get when you don’t quite fit back into your own country after spending an extended amount of time abroad. I do think it took me a good couple of years to really feel at home again here in Australia, even though it’s a country I really do love.
|Australia … a country where you can enjoy the beach in winter|
But today I read a column by Nikki Gemmell, one of my all-time favourite novelists, who has just returned to Australia after living in London for many years. She had a similar reluctance, over the years, about returning to Australia – she even wrote a whole book about it, Why you are Australian. Something she wrote in her weekend column summed up my experience pretty accurately (and much more beautifully than I could!):
I feel like I’m being marinated in a sense of belonging, something I fought tooth and nail against in the younger, wilder years. But I need it as I age. Returning is about the serenity and stillness that comes from being part of a deeply known world; the ease of it. My husband and I spent years being outsiders in foreign lands and revelling in that status; but my God, the relief, now, of belonging.
Of course, enjoying a feeling of belonging doesn’t mean I don’t constantly have the urge to travel, or the desire to live somewhere other than Australia for a while some time in the (probably distant!) future, but I certainly don’t feel the same unease I had when I first returned to Australia. I’m pretty sure that part of this comes from having started a family here and wanting to see my son grow up enjoying all the perks of Australia – and certainly his obsession with being outdoors would make life in a less sunny country pretty tricky! But I think I’m also just at a stage in life (I don’t want to say “age”, just stage!) where being at home fits in pretty well with me.
I know I often have readers drop by who are going through reverse culture shock – I hope this gives you some hope for the future – it does get better! Do let me know your experiences below in the comments.