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Culturally Homeless

vagabondette74

Holds PhD in Packing
 
Posts: 267
Joined: September 26th, 2007
Location: San Cristobal Mexico currently

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  • Added on: April 10th, 2011
For the last several days I've been having an ongoing debate on facebook with a friend of a friend. The initial topic was about gun control but it ended up spanning several topics, most recently community vs. individualized cultures. It's been an interesting debate for me and a chance to stretch my brain a bit but what I really appreciate about it is the realization I just had as a result of the discussion.

I've been traveling for years. I'm not as widely traveled as many as I tend to settle in one place for month/years at a time but I've experienced a variety of countries and cultures. What has always surprised me is that I almost always feel more at home outside the US (where I was born and raised) than I do when I'm in the US. I'd determined that the reason for this was because I don't believe in what's important to the majority of individuals in the US (personal advancement, material goods, instant gratification, etc.). However, even though I've always felt *more* at home in other countries, I've never felt truly at home. There was always something missing and I've concluded that what I'm feeling is cultural homelessness.

I don't feel like I belong where I was raised but I also don't feel like I belong where I am. I don't have a cultural identity that seems to fit anywhere and I think that's one of the things that drives me to keep traveling. I realize now just how much it's been stressing me out and I'm wondering if anyone else has had this feeling and what you've done about it - if anything.

Sorry for the ramble and I look forward to any thoughts people might have.
Traveling through Mexico and Central America starting in January '09. Hit me up if you want to meet!

halfnine

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Joined: December 5th, 2005
Location: London or Chicago

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  • Added on: April 10th, 2011
vagabondette74 wrote:However, even though I've always felt *more* at home in other countries, I've never felt truly at home.


I have two thoughts on it. First, for the most part, as an immigrant one is never going to be entirely welcomed in a country. Not in the way someone who was raised there. In that sense it's hard to ever truly be at home. Secondly, countries are kind of like falling in love. Everything is great in the beginning but over time it is quite easy for the romance of it all to fade and the reality (working, paying bills, dealing with bureaucracy) to set in.

busman7

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Joined: January 12th, 2008
Location: Traveling for a while away from Playa San Diego SV

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  • Added on: April 10th, 2011
The way I see it is that to be a traveler one has a different outlook on life than the majority of their countrymen, the wage-slaves, so that upon return they can never feel at home.

When living in another country, especially a developing one, you will always be seen as the rich gringo/yuma/farang or whatever the terminology, which will be true for the majority of the population.

Subsequently one can feel a lot more at home, as I do in CA or SE Asia where the small businessman still remains the center of the local economy, as they were in Canada/US in the 50's & 60's, before the bigger is better syndrome took hold.

Much prefer going to the local market over Walmart! :darthmavis:
http://blogs.bootsnall.com/busman7 | http://wwwlasbrisasplayasandiego.blogspot.com
"I started out alone to seek adventures. You don't really have to seek them - that is nothing but a phrase - they come to you." Mark Twain

LilaBear

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Joined: October 17th, 2010
Location: Australia

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  • Added on: April 10th, 2011
I believe home is what/where we make it. I think we tend to feel 'at home' in different places because they remind us of our real home. If you've not made anywhere your real home, then I don't think you'll ever get that complete 'at home' feeling. I also believe identifying with a culture is only a fraction of what makes a home for us. So I don't think you will ever find a culture that makes you feel entirely at home. Other things need to happen/be present for you to feel entirely at home (in my opinion anyway).

DenkiGroove

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Posts: 15
Joined: April 2nd, 2011

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  • Added on: April 10th, 2011
I sometimes feel the same way; being the son of Turkish immigrants, yet being born in the Netherlands and growing up here as a part of this society. I think that makes me, me. I love to embrace it.

My philosophy is that it doesn't matter if you don't know what your (cultural) home is and what not. Maybe you have two homes? Maybe three? I'll always have "Holland" as my primary feeling of home and as a huge part of my cultural identity, but who knows what places I'll also call home in the future?

What do you want to see in that place you'd like to call 'home' and identify yourself with? Is it friends and family? Is it language and habits? Is it food? Music?
Maybe you'll be able to add certain aspects of every place (even if it doesn't feel like home) and complete the puzzle that way? There are no limits.

I feel that you should accept that you are still searching and you'll eventually know that what makes you feel most comfortable.

EMH

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Joined: May 24th, 2007

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  • Added on: April 12th, 2011
I agree with what halfnine said. Beyond that, I think language is always a barrier. No matter how "fluent" you are in a foreign language, it will always be somewhat foreign to you. My cousin lived in Chile for 15 years. For the past 10-12 years she ran a translation business, translating university professors research papers from spanish to english. So her spanish was about as fluent as it gets. Yet she recently told me that she's never felt completely comfortable with the language.

There are also cultural things that take a really long time to pick up. I don't watch much TV but I do like the Big Bang Theory. I watched it the other night with my Colombian girlfriend. Afterwards, she told me that the show was "horrible" and "not funny". Granted her english isn't very good so she had to watch the show via subtitles. But even if her english was better I'm not sure she would have "gotten" the show. There are just so many culturally specific things in the show that were way beyond her ability to grasp. She's smart - she's a med student - but it takes a really long time to really understand another culture.
Follow my travels through Central and South America: www.talesofagringo.com

vagabondette74

Holds PhD in Packing
 
Posts: 267
Joined: September 26th, 2007
Location: San Cristobal Mexico currently

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  • Added on: April 12th, 2011
It's funny that you mention the BBT. My husband is Mexican and it's one of his favorite shows. I'd never watched it until about 2 months ago and I was surprised that he enjoyed it that much given how culturally specific it is. I guess my husband is a bigger nerd than your girlfriend. :)

I think everyone has made good points and it's been nice to read that I may not be the only one who feels that disconnect. It'll come with time. It's just been a crazy 2 months with the wedding and spending so much time with his family to make me realize that no matter how similar some things are on the surface, deep down they're still really very different.
Traveling through Mexico and Central America starting in January '09. Hit me up if you want to meet!

Mama-to-many

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Joined: March 26th, 2007
Location: New Zealand

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  • Added on: April 12th, 2011
I feel a degree of comfort in NZ, which is my birthplace. However, I consciously live a counter-cultural life! So I don't EXPECT to fit in and be "normal". But it is here that I understand the deep-seated culture - not just the top level food choices, clothing norms, and language, but the mostly-hidden worldviews that affect all the outer stuff. I think it would take a lifetime of living somewhere to ever understand that fully in a second culture.
One of the (many) reasons we took our kids away from this culture for a season was to concretely show them the otherwise vague concept that we have citizenship "in heaven". They understand citizenship much more fully now, and we are constantly urging them to have an eternal perspective and not merely live for the moment.
I would imagine having a constantly itinerant life would enhance this!
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DavidAM

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Joined: February 28th, 2010
Location: New Jersey

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  • Added on: May 20th, 2011
Wow! Great discussion that I've stumbled upon here. Culturally Homeless is a great way to put it. Even at a young age before I truly understood my environment, I would look around and think to myself that the things I was witnessing and learning didn't make much sense to me. Now, at 21, I'm Veg, don't drink, don't smoke, live minimalist, and disagree with a lot of things that Americans value and place importance on, and it makes me feel like I've never really been connected to anything. This could potentially be the reason why I travel now that I think about it. Because even if can't fit in to any culture, I can potentially find people along the way who will understand my struggle. And that bond could very well create a feeling of finding your "cultural home".
"Change is the essence of life. Be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become."

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