PDA

View Full Version : Any other rootless people here? (warning: long!)


Toffe
03-09-2003, 05:11 PM
Hi! This was inspired by the "experiences as an ex-pat" thread; I couldn't read very far and didn't post because to me, the changes people had gone through seemed small, while I realise that people had in fact been losing (or changing) their homes. I don't have a home.

Here's my story. My father is Danish, from Aalborg (Jutland). He went to university in Århus, did his military service, and then got a job at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, for which he has been working ever since. My mother is Swedish, I'm not even sure where she was born or all of the places she's lived in in Sweden, but she's from the Småland region (south and inland, basically) and moved several times, notably to a suburb of Stockholm and finally to Malmö before she met my dad. Many years later, after stints in China and Kenya (among other places) and the births of my brother and sister, I was born, in Oslo, Norway. A year after that we all moved "back" to Denmark. Five years there, do first grade, then we move to Tanzania. Obviously I had no say in the matter (nor my siblings or my mother, for that matter). 8 years there, then a year in Uganda. Because the school there was complete s**t my mother and I went back to Denmark for my last two years of school. Then I went to England to go to university (27 weeks a year...) while my mother went back to Uganda, my brother worked in Singapore and Morocco, and my sister lived/studied in France and England. I've also travelled all over the world.

So here I sit, halfway to earning a degree in history and politics, with a passport that, on the whole, no longer means anything to me. I speak five languages now, soon it'll be six. My father made me take Danish lessons outside school in Tanzania and Uganda so I'd feel at "home" in Denmark later. It was incredibly boring. When I go back to Denmark now, which isn't often, I feel no connection to anyone or anything. Sure, there are fun people there, and it's an OK place to live (as countries go), but I have no connection to it anyway. To make matters worse, I don't feel represented by the government or feel a part of society, so I'm thinking of never going back - why should I? In reaction to this, I improved my Swedish while in Denmark by reading lots of books, so I could get by in Sweden, but having never lived there, I always just feel like a tourist when I go there too.

In my life, I've travelled to more places in a matter of years than most people (even relatively wealthy people in the West) will see in their lifetimes. I've lived in places and through experiences that seem to have given me a big head start on life experience; in school I got along better with my teachers than my classmates. Now I'm 19, and my best friends are between 24 and 33 (I've even often had to show people my passport to convince them I'm not lying about my age). My life seems to be an obstacle to making new friends or feeling at home in places; I can't really write why in a way that seems to make good sense.

My life, although it probably makes me one of the luckiest and most fortunate people alive, has left me without a home. I have absolutely no solid connection to any place. My brother seems to have embraced the lifestyle, and keeps moving around, but also seems unhappy at being unable to create a home anywhere. My sister adapted to life and culture both in Africa, Britain and France, but she can't pick a place to live or work in. I have a dream of retiring to the backwoods of northern Sweden sometime, but I know it's just a dream as I'll need a job to retire from first, and I've never even been to north Sweden, so it will just stay a dream.

Anyway, this has been a ridiculously long post. Sorry. Two questions. First, does anyone else have an idea of what I mean? Second, what should/can I do?

(FWIW, current plan is to get my degree, then get a master's - either in Spanish medieval history, which will be fun but worthless, or in politics/international relations/journalism or something, which would be useful and might get me a job sometime)

PS: Seeing your best friends leave forever every year really sucks. Especially when you don't have many of them.

catnoe
03-09-2003, 06:51 PM
Sometimes I wish I'd had your life, sometimes I'm glad I had mine.

I've been a gypsy since I left my parents home at 20 years of age. Until I married (5 years later) I never lived in one place for even a year. Same town/area but not the same house.

For as long as I can remember I've always wanted to see the world and live in as many places as I could. When I married I married a navy man, at least now I stay put for at least a year.

I grew up in NC and have lived in Norfolk, Va., Washington, D.C. and Naples, Italy. As Norfolk was the first place I lived after getting married I consider it home, don't really care to live in North Carolina again, it doesn't feel like home even when I visit. But if I had my druthers, I'd live in Naples. I was happiest there and loved the ability to see the world, can't really explain except to say it felt right.

I miss my family sometimes but have no need to live near them, I miss my friend sometimes but being military dependent I've gotten use to not seeing friends for long periods of time.

You're still young, sometime in the next 10 or 15 years you'll find a place that makes you feel safe and happy, that will be your home. (My home is where ever my husband is.)

Toffe
03-10-2003, 10:07 AM
Originally posted by catnoe
You're still young, sometime in the next 10 or 15 years you'll find a place that makes you feel safe and happy, that will be your home. (My home is where ever my husband is.)

Safe? Easy, compared to what I'm used to.
Happy? Not a problem, I can make friends anywhere.

I'm just wondering if I'll ever get attached to a place, rather than just always considering living in one place a temporary thing.

Congratulations on settling into a life you're happy with!