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From ‘no home’ to ‘two homes’…gradually finding ‘home’ inside

Friday, September 5th, 2008 @ 10:08 pm
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Posted in  My Own Travels, Personal Process

It was 5th September 2001 when i first arrived to the UK, it is 7 years ago like today that i flew from Athens to Manchester and took my first ‘step’ on the new land and the whole new journey of my life…here i am with the magic number 7 again, it feels as if a cycle gets complete and a new beginning is being made; in that, i find a significant inner process taking place in terms of my relationship with my original and host cultures and the sense of ‘home’ inside…One of the most challenging feelings I have been struggling with since i emigrated has been the sense of non-belonging anywhere, an awkward feeling of alienation towards my original culture, Greece and a draining feeling of battle around what i have been feeling that the host british culture has provoked in me as a result of finding myself in a ‘foreign land’.  It is a long time now now that i have been talking around both the positive and difficult aspects of the experience of moving between cultures, without actually finding peace within them. But now, it is such a feeling of relief  to be realising that, actually, something has changed…and i see that this is a result of undertaking this PhD project where i have neen wrestling for so long with this very phenomenon of the impact of immigration on identity (and having the counselling/psychotherapy perspective to be giving me a frame towards discovering a meaningful narrative around it)

As I was travelling from Athens to Manchester yesterday, with a transit stop via Brussels, there was an awesome moment when i was looking at the sun from the aeroplane window and i was thinking that i am sensing that i have moved from feeling psychologicaly ‘homeless’ to experiencing that i may be now having ‘two homes’, expressed in both my home-land (Greece) and host-land (UK). When i visited Greece this summer,  i felt less alienated in it, although very aware of the dynamics in my relationship with it still. Similarly, as i returned to the UK, i felt more of a warmth towards what this land has offered me. So, i notice a shift in my ability to appreciate the good in both those cultures inside me, whilst also recognising what the challenging feelings entail but with less grief taking place in that experience…and of course, it is not that anything has changed at an external level…it is obvious in me that IT IS ME who has changed in terms of actually finding the connections of selfhood and home in the inner psychic realm, i seem to be gradually becoming what i would call ‘a conscious and mature resident of myself’, a process that seems to be influencing my relationship to the cultures i carry and move from and towards and vice versa.

and as this is happening…some little events have come to confirm that or draw my attention to it more vividly. On of those events is my meeting a Greek-Dutch man in Athens with whom we shared interesting conversations around that issue of home and belonging (given also his own story around living in different countries). there was a moment over a dinner we shared that he turned and told me : “although i do not know you for long time, i can sense that you are a person that could make home anywhere…just because you have it inside, i see you as someone who has this home-feeling inside you”. I was so struck when he said that really and thanked him for putting it into words for me so clearly!

another interesting little incident was when i arrived at Manchester airport last night and when i gor the train to the city centre, i found myself alone in a wagon with an old couple who looked very tired and frustrated. We started chatting and they shared with me that they just came back from holiday, it was their 43rd wedding anniversary that very day and they had lost each other at the airport…the lady explained that they were from Ireland (herself from the South,her husband from the North…..Ireland, another ‘divided’ land, like the cypriot one in my background) and that they have been constantly looking to ‘settle with each other’ but whenever they travelled, they always got lost! she was telling me how tied up she feels towards her home and how frustrated she feels when going away…she did wonder how we (refering to me that looked foreign due to my appearance) foreigners really manage! and when she said that, i actually realised how ‘getting lost’ or being in unfamiliar places and situations is not scaring me anymore…it is this resilience that i have developed that makes me both adaptable and deeply aware of who i really am

I just wanted to record this feeling….and invite this new beginning take place, coinciding with the beginning of my final PhD year, when this story of home-travel-return-belonging-homesearching-homecoming is to be told in my writing,,,carpe diem!

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3 Comments for
“From ‘no home’ to ‘two homes’…gradually finding ‘home’ inside”


  1. Hello
    I travelled around the website tonight just wondering what you are doing…
    My birthday is on September 5… ???
    A.



  2. This sentence is on my mind ever since I read it on your site.
    “a person that could make home anywhere…just because you have it inside, i see you as someone who has this home-feeling inside you”.

    What is this “home feeling” really? What are the characteristics of a person able to “make home anywhere”? I see myself as a person that can ” make home anywhere”. Is it the ability to appreciate and cherish the beauties of a place, of a land? Or perphaps the ability to create bonds and links with people and places that give you a sense of belonging. I beleive that the home-feeling is closely related to the feeling of belonging.

    In Greek language home is called oikos. Oikos- Home in Greek have the same root with Intimacy-Oikeiotita.
    Maybe people capable of creating intimate relations with persons and places are these people capable of enjoying the home feeling averywhere …
    Greetings
    Anny



  3. Thanks for your emails Anny, i was in bed with flu (it does affect my health when i find myself in climate changes and different temperatures when i travel from one country to another!) so am responding to you now:

    yes, i do think that the sense of feeling at home does relate to belonging and also to the inimate relationships with places and people in a certain geographical location. The reason i am raising this issue and why the sense of ‘dislocation’ may not be that visible to someone who hasnt moved around, abroad or elsewhere is related to the following dimesions, that i see in my personal experience and in that of some of my research participants:

    1. when you move abroad and make yourself a foreigner, things in your life become ‘temporary’, especialy when you are not sure about where you will settle.for example, all these years i am in the UK, i always avoided to buy domestic things (furniture, or even smaller things) cause i lived in rented furnished accomodation and had to always be ready to move….so, i could never really make my ‘nest’ of make my home, even the ‘physical one’ too cosy….not to mention that you usually end up living in ONE single room in a shared house where everything is kept minimal….i so much want to have the chance to have my OWN HOME, with my OWN furniture etc….but cant do that if i dont settle in one place, if you see what i mean. I do make ‘home’ now with little things that comfort me but all is minimal size and potentially ready to be packed or trasnported

    2. the above sitiation affects the making of intimate relationships too. I have stories, and many of my friends too that are immigrants, of being heart broken cause of love affairs that had to be lost due to mobility…….not to mention the occasion when i fell in love with a man whose culture would never be accepted by my own culture due to many compex reasons….also, i am personally at an age where i want to create my own family, my own nest and this hasnt happened, maybe for many reasons, but at least one of them is due to my non-settling in one place and this has afftected relationships too

    3. it is interesting that when i interviewed some colleagues who returned to work in Greece after living abroad, those who had a partner to take back with them (especially a non-Greek one) found it easier to adapt that those that moved abroad or returned back alone….this says something! Those that returned with a partner who is a foreigner in their original culture felt more comfortable around the feeling of feeling like strangers in their own land, cause they brought some of the host culture they left behind with them, in the face of their partner, if you see what i mean. another thing has to do with values and what is acceptable in one’s country: for example, the fact that i am 32, female and single in the UK, is not such a big deal socially speaking. However, when i come to Greece i feel stigmatised and that is one factor that makes me feel not welcomed, and ‘not at home’ in my country

    4. the professional marginaslisation is another factor that makes one feel out of home in a given culture. for example, being a qualified counsellor at PhD level in the UK makes me very respectable, highly employable and a person with status and numerous opportunities. In contrast, when in Greece, i automaticaly lose that recognition cause of the fact that counselling is not acknowledged, itis even misinterpreted as a profession (is not seen as a profession by many even) and i do not have work opportunities

    so, do u see some of the factors that may make somebody feel mis-placed or out-of-home (things that are for others are taken for granted)? Therefore, all this process has led me attempt to find home inside, rescue my own worth and confidence regardless of external factors and systems or the circumstance of my emotional needs in my personal life………..and believe me, all this is damn hard!

    will leave it there for now, thanks for posting ur comments!


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