Having been an expat for the past 10 years, the one thing that always helped avoid missing my home in Germany was to partially create a home away from home in whichever corner of the globe I ended up.
I found that one of the best ways of doing this was by sticking to, or creating, a number of regular habits which acted as a hook to my previous life. For example when living in England, I always made sure that my supermarket trolley ended up containing at least some German products such as our world famous bread, beer, and of course sausages. By doing so, I could ensure that at least one meal I had per week had a homely German feel to it. I was also lucky enough to have access to a German television station, not only in the UK, but somewhat to my amazement in Cambodia where I am currently living. Which is helpful as it is scary how quickly you can begin to forget how to speak your native language if you don’t use it for months on end.
Another habit I have kept throughout my ex-pat life is to have Thursday evenings as my take-away night – which is not to say I don’t have the occasionally sneaky takeaway on other nights, of course. As strange as this habit may seem, at an almost subconscious level I find it helps maintain a degree of continuity in my life. So in Germany I used to have a pizza most Thursdays. In the UK Thursday night was fish and chips night, and now in Cambodia Thursday night is curry night. I don’t know why this consistent habit makes me feel more connected to my upbringing, but it does!
One thing that is also really important to me is that I set up a comfortable home and haven I can retreat back to. This usually includes some nice furniture, such as from Nick Scali Furniture, and most importantly plenty of accessories. In Cambodia in particular finding pretty accessories is very easy and I can’t get enough of all those silk cushions, table runners or Buddha statues that you can buy on most markets here.
The final thing which helps is the ease by which it is possible to stay in touch with friends and family through social media, something which not so long ago wasn’t an option. Meaning I can be sat by the pool in Phnom Penh sipping an ice coffee while talking to my friends and family about what’s going on in Germany or the UK via Skype or Facebook.
Now of course it is important, in my opinion, when you move to live in another country that you don’t spend too much time eating food from your home country, watching Western TV channels, and overly dwelling on the past in general. Otherwise, why move abroad in the first place? Having said that, I personally find that however much of a nomad I like to think I am, every now and then it is nice to maintain a link back to my childhood home, no matter how much I am enjoying seeing what else the world has to offer!