今日は! Enchantée! Nice to meet you! Schön dich zu sehen!
The few months I spent away from “home” changed my definition of that term completely. But not in the way I thought it would do. My feeling of affinity to a place developed into another direction, into the opposite of my expectations. The more I realized that, the more it turned out that I´d known myself less than I thought so far.
To explain that, I have to go a little far afield and talk about as what kind of person I´ve considered myself till now. What (stubborn) picture of me was in my head. I imagined myself always as an “open-minded” character, the one who´s about to sleep on mattresses in South East Asia, who explores the neighbourhoods of a Manhattan or travels spontaneous through Northern Europe. The one who could easily adapt to a new culture and survive in a foreign environment, who never knows in what corner of the world she´s pitching up her tents. To cut it short: Whose home is the world itself. That picture of me mainly comes from the fact that I´ve never seen myself as an Austrian patriot. I was never the one who´s waving excitedly the flag at a match of the national soccer team (also because there´s rarely anything to be excited about) or would see herself in a Dirndl. Don´t get me wrong: I love Dirndls, I´ve even got two by myself, and I do sing the national anthem if it comes to it. Not at all that I was not fond of my country, just the fact that I didn´t define my own character by it, that my personality wasn´t shaped by the nation I belong to. I thought that I would have been a similar personage or even the same if I´d been born in another (Western) country, that a character is predominantly influenced just by your parent´s education. That was what I expected myself to be.
Actually a human being doesn´t work like that. Only by now, only when you are separated from the safe hands of your country, your traditions, your habits, your familiar environment, you realise how much you´re defined by that. Just if you´re apart from the things you know you recognise how essential they are actually for you. Even and primarily the small things, the ones you didn´t even notice. The fact that the vehicles stroll on the wrong side. That you cannot get brown bread here. That the sun sets so early in the afternoon. That you´re in most cases the only blondie (ok, that´s just for me). All the tiny things you´re so used to have that you can´t even imagine them to be not self-evident. What dominates your daily life influences you in a certain way, the things you like as well as all the annoying ones.
That was what I´d not been willing to accept: I always considered myself to be an “independent” person who´s standin on her own (how ridiculous that sounds now). And now, the short time I´ve already spent in Japan, in a completely different culture made me learn about myself that I´m more an Austrian than I thought. That your nation does decide your personality (or at least influences it), if you want that or not. And I only learned that by being away from my familiar space, from living out of my comfort zone. Yeah, the journey I´ve been into so far made me understand myself a little more as I expected that before. But not in the way I expected it.
So the feeling of home is definitely aligned with a specific place. It´s a fabulous imagination to call the entire planet your home, but it can´t be more than imagination, as the little human brain is too small to deal with a term that wide-spread. The coziness is required to be associated with a certain corner of the world, a certain culture, a certain nation. The place where you grow up, where you do our first steps, spend your childhood will always be in your memories as your real home, even if you would´nt expect that. I learned that the culture in that you´re raised up, the beliefs you got told and values you got taught as a child will always stuck unconsciously in the back of your head. And amusingly in the far even the things of your culture that get on your nerves, that you´d wish to get rid of, start to seem surprisingly special and familiar. So in my case some things of the Austrian culture and characteristics that totally stressed my up don´t appear that bad right now (for example the preference of Austrians to motschgern). And even clichés and stereotypes of your culture tend to become rather intimate for you (In Austria I´d have never toyed with the idea of going into a Sound of Music show).
The feeling of coziness, of trust, of relief of the society´s difficulties does start at a door, and is not only associated with the people you´re surrounded with, as I was assuming before. Now that I know better, I have to admit that I´m in a way more dependent that I imagined myself to be. And in this case that is not a bad thing.
いってらっしゃい! -Have a good journey! -À tout à l´heure! -Halt die Ohren steif!
The one who wanna have a full passport