Expat life; what we take for granted at home

The other day I read an article about 7 things you realize you’ve taken for granted when you come home after traveling on www.elitedaily.com. And I was totally inspired by the text; as it’s so true that traveling changes your life and the way you look at things back home. Whether it’s for a short holiday or living abroad, the things you experience, see and do will influence you.

Being Dutch has given me the opportunity to travel from a very young age. Our country is so small that when we would have a holiday we would go to France, Italy, Spain or any other country where the weather would be better. My parents would put us in the car and we would drive south. From that time we were exposed to new languages and other cultures, and we saw may differences – such as different eating times and styles.

Holiday with family

Holiday – in the back of our caravan with my brothers

When I went to the Hotel School a big emphasize was made on cultural differences. This opened my eyes, but living abroad was the real eye-opener. Living and working in a new country was difficult at times, but it was interesting to see and learn these new countries and people.

Coming home after a long time away opens your eyes to your life back home. The good, the bad and the ugly… You have all these new feelings and coming back home you start to compare the one country with the other. Traveling changes you, and when you’re back home the more clearly you see everything.

The first thing you obviously notice when living abroad is the different language and so the way of communicating. When I moved to Paris for 6 months the only thing I could say in French was “hello, my name is Frederiek and I’m 18years old”. This does not bring you very far in a country, especially in a country like France where people hardly speak any English. I was so happy I to find some Dutch friends, as I was able to explain to them quickly what I wanted to do or how I felt.
Besides that the Dutch have a special kind of humor; we’re very sarcastic and we like our ‘dry’ jokes. Only after working in Ho Chi Minh City for a year, one of my colleagues told me that nobody understood my jokes, and they all thought I was dead serious when doing this… Oops!

Another great thing from going home is seeing my family in real life. I love the fact that we live in this Internet era, where you can see each other via skype and facetime, and call and text each other free of charge using apps like whatsapp and viber. But nothing beats a hug from your parents or a kiss from you little nephew or niece. I can still remember my time in Paris, when we did not have easy access to internet, when I wanted to talk to my parents or friends, I had to go out and call them from a telephone booth. It was expensive and most of the time cold, as I was there in the wintertime so calls where spare and short…

Selfie time with my parents and nephew and nieces :)

Selfie time with my parents and nephew and nieces

What’s also amazing when you come back home and meet up with good friends, that it does not matter that you have not seen each other for a long time. People know you and your background, and you can just pick up where you left off. I love the dinners I have with my year-club or other girl-friends; you all fall back in a routine and have an amazing evening talking the night away about everything and nothing.

Dinner in The Hague

Dinner in The Hague with my Year-Club 

And then there are all those things you can’t find abroad, such as the amazing Dutch cheeses, stroopwafels, magazines in your own language. Just anything you cannot get your hands on in the country you live. The value of these items increases from something fairly regular to something you can’t wait to get your hands on. You see things in a new light {I love to wander around the supermarket around the corner of my parents’ house to see what’s new}, and to appreciate these things as you know it’s no longer a product, but part of something at home that can’t be easily replaced in your new city.

All in all I came to see my home country in a different light ever since I left home for the first time. How about you? What do you miss the most from your home country? And what are your experiences with coming back home?

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