29 comments on “Beware the dangers of visiting home

  1. I’ve got the same sentiments and I was back in London a week ago. Only I tend to feel more and more detached from the UK the more I stay away and I find it a bit trying to be back there – apart from the obvious thing about understanding everyone more easily. I’m certainly more comfortable at home these days, which is Brazil. I can’t see into the future, but I’m not sure if I will ever return – who knows?

    • Exactly. My inclination is that we’ll move back next year, mainly because there are no long-term job prospects for us here….but you never know…

  2. Dang – I live in São Paulo and I demand a shrubbery! Epic post mate. Hope you managed to bring back some delicacies. There used to be an English pie shop here with huge queues, but the chap went back home. Maybe there is a business venture waiting for you; importing all the goodies we miss?

    • I went to that shop and had actually wondered why it closed – now I know! Pity.

      I brought loads of stuff back but made the cardinal sin of devouring it all in the first fortnight. Still have an army’s worth of tea and gravy left though so not all hope is lost!

  3. Great post Andy, I really enjoyed this post and could fully relate to it. (Although I fully agree on the baked beans, I’d be more inclined to swap the Monster Munch for Galaxy chocolate! Hmmmmm, Now you’re talking!!!)

    • Cheers Andrew. I do miss decent chocolate bars and biscuits. Given Brazil grows so much cocoa you’d think they’d make some decent and modestly priced ones themselves.

      I’m more of a Cadbury man myself but Galaxy as well. I could quite easily destroy of a family-sizes packet of Minstrels in one sitting!

      • I’m Brazilian and I find a lot of chocolate in Brazil a bit too sweet but, whenever I see people pining for whatever brand they grew up with back home, I detect more a homesick person than a chocolate connoisseur. I actually like Fruit and Nut but if we’re talking about quality chocolate, surely something Swiss or Belgian would be the first choice, no?

      • Well, I think we were taking about the things we miss from home as opposed to ‘the best’ chocolate.

        I don’t actively miss those things when I don’t have access to them personally, but no doubt it can also be a sign of homesickness if you crave them all the time.

        PS. How does a Brazilian get an Anglo name like Andrew Francis?

      • I know what you mean. Well, technically, I’m half Brazilian, half British. Having been born and brought up in Brazil I tend to identify more with Brazil than Britain (but if I stay another 10 years in London, I’m sure to reverse that trend). Either way, folks think of me as a Brazilian here in the UK and maybe as a foreigner back in Brazil (“How do you spell your name again? You use what letter???”). I guess that’s par for the course as a dual national.

  4. +1 for the Brits abroad sympathy brigade. I had a very similar experience in London last December – quite unbelievable how neat and tidy the streets appear after time in Brazil! At the moment I’m losing the battle with homesickness though (as well as the battle with getting a job here!) so I’m moving more towards the heading home home option. If I do, it will be with a new set of eyes and outlook upon the UK (for me: 95% positive) but no doubt a heavy-heart for my home in Belo Horizonte (which btw, is definitely worth at least a visit for its pleasing amount of shrubbery and truly ‘belo horizonte’).

    • Hi Tom, are you teaching but looking for other opportunities? That seems to be the situation everyone I know here is in. However, slowly people are getting a little frustrated and moving away.

      What got you so homesick?

      I went to BH last July and absolutely loved it – especially Pampulha. Inhotim must also be one of my favourite places in Brazil!

  5. Very good! I know exactly what you’re going through. So much so that I shamelessly copied your photo of Sao Paulo and added it to my wallpaper rotation. It helps remind me of the city I miss without the annoyances of traffic jams, expensive purchases, less than ideal infrastructure, etc.

    To complicate things even more, give it a few more years and if you decide to move again (either to a new country or back to London), you’ll have to deal with home, home home, and home home home. :-)

    • Yeah, get past all the superficial stuff and SP is a great place to live. I’ll definitely miss it whenever it is that I end up leaving.

  6. Great post Andy. I liked the use of ‘home’ and ‘home home’. I try to take the best with me from each one. When I get homesick I go to an Irish pub for footie and banter and when back home home or showing mates my new home I try to bring out the cool differences. It’s a little different for me as my wife is Argentinean I’m from Durham and we live in Madrid with our 2 year old. Life you carry with you.

    • Yeah, I definitely think you need to have that balance. The problem is when you only ever go to the gringo pubs and avoid interacting with locals. Seems like you’ve got it sorted though!

  7. I´ve come to the conclusion that what most of us all really enjoy is novelty… Something different to the norm. Simple as that. That´s why it´s so important to do as much new / different stuff as often as possible, whilst maintaining one or two things really important things constant – friends, family etc.
    Only problem with that philosophy is that it´s fairly incompatible with commitment!

    P.s. thought I´d finally check out your musings Andy… very cool. I do plan to keep track of my musings on Quito too at some point. Will keep you posted.

    • Hey Pat, hope all is well with you guys up in the North of the continent!

      Have you read ‘Status Anxiety’ by Alain de Botton? I think that says a lot about about these things. Basically, stop worrying what everyone else is doing – just make sure your own life is fulfilling, etc. Kinda rings true I think!

  8. It is great to be able to tune out the chatter! It can backfire when it’s my wife who’s talking, however.

  9. Wonderful blog and comments. It seems there are a lot of us! From a different angle, leaving home and returning isn’t just about different countries. When I travel out of the US I often fantasize about relocating, sometimes do research and work up a budget. But I never do it because of what I have learned from reloating in my home country. I know it would be more trouble and expense than it would be worth because living is just that, wherever I am.

    As soon as my 6 children were “launched” I quit my job, put my belongings in storage, and “hit the road” in a motor home. I sampled different places and ways of life for various periods of time and the motor home was “home”. I settled for a year in Florida, followed by 5 years in Santa Fe because of an instant sense of beloging I felt there. It worked for me, and I could have stayed, but remoteness from family became an issue, so I headed back East. I spent 2 years in Cincinnati followed by 9 years in Indianapolis, both cities where family lived. Each quickly became “home”.

    So where is my home? I grant you the “home” of language matters. I’ve lived in a German-speaking environment and the psychic impact is real. But recognizing that, in each of my “homes” I developed new friends, new living patterns, new outlooks. Visits to family in the midwest were just that, as my emotional “home” had become the residence of the moment. I learned to call myself a nomad. For me there is a reality called “too long in one place”.

    But now I have decided that my current home is permanent, a rational choice that feelings will not change.

    I now create new “homes” in my blogs. Come visit me sometime in one of them. http://mcrmich.blogspot.com/ or http://computerconnect.wordpress.com/

  10. Great post. After two years of living in Brazil when the going gets tough I catch myself occassionally grumbling/daydreaming about “picking up everything and moving home home”. But the truth is, where is home? Not home home, where I no longer have the old apartment or old job or even the same old circle of friends as life has carried people away and onto different paths. When I am able to be honest with myself I realize that home’s here, in this strange place where I feel like an outsider more days than not, and that when I visit home home I’m an outsider there too. Your post describes the tension of wanting to be two places at once very well.

    • Thanks Malvina, much appreciated. The ‘wanting to be in two places at the same time’ is exactly what I wanted to capture.

      When I was in London I had a strong urge to want to stay, but now I’m back in SP the feeling is exactly the opposite. It’s a very strange mix of emotions.

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