Two weeks in Croatia have come and went (as well as my 30th birthday- ugh). I’m not too sure when I’ll get around to the recap (before the end of September, I hope!), but I had a weird expat experience in Croatia (or maybe it was a weird expat revelation?) that I wanted to write about.
The first week of holiday went by and we went from Zagreb to Plitvice to Zadar and everything was great. And then we went to Hvar, where we started to encounter or overhear a lot of English speaking tourists: tons of Aussies and Brits (and ya know, Canadians are always popping up somewhere) and less so, but still a decent amount of Americans. And I realized I was kind of creepily hovering around the Americans like a bee to a flower. At first I think I just wanted to be around Americans and relish in their accents and listen to them talk about how much money they spent at Target. But after a couple days that just wasn’t enough. I single white femaled all the Americans I could find. I would totally find a way to interject myself in other American’s conversations, generally failing to make any great connections but that didn’t matter, and I just needed American on American interaction! I can’t really explain it; it was weird behavior to say the least.
And then we met up with one my best friends and 3 of her friends in Dubrovnik. I got the most recent US Weekly, some new jammy jams, and all the Americanism I could get my hands on. I was feeling pretty good. And then when waiting at our gate for the last (of our 3) flight of the day to get back to Aberdeen I was surrounded by Scots. And it was glorious. I not only got the biggest smile on my face listening to their accents, but I was so comforted to smell their stale beer breath and hear all their “nae”s and “fit”s and get back into the groove of deciphering what the Scots are saying. Like absurdly comforted. And I just thought, oh I was thinking, oh thank God we’re going home- it’s so nice to be with my peeps where I feel welcome. Vacation was great, but after 2 weeks, I just wanted to be home. And being on a Boeing 747 full of Scotsmen (and maybe 2 Scotswomen) felt like home, or at least the right pathway.
What?! When did that happen? It’s so strange to think that I could yearn for being in Scotland. I have now officially lived in Scotland for a year (actually a year and a month) and in that time have lived in 3 residences here and yet, I feel at home here. I realized that this is the longest time I’ve been away from America (8 full months going towards 11) and I’m quickly approaching the longest time I have lived outside the Midwest (large geographic location but still substantial to think about). It’s a nice feeling to be so comfortable in Scotland, but at the same time it kind of makes me feel guilty for cheating on my favorite city of Chicago as well as confused and scared. Will moving from Scotland give me the same heartbreak moving from Chicago did? We’re still a long way off before that happens, but it’s something I didn’t even anticipate. I was sure I’d adapt well enough, but I didn’t expect I’d yearn for being back to Scotland after a two-week vacation. It will be interesting to see what thoughts are in my head when I am home in the Midwest for a month in December…
I always get way ahead of myself. Right now, I don’t have to think about what happens when we move from Scotland (or even go home for vacation)…and actually, I don’t have to feel guilty for cheating on Chicago when I’m missing Scotland. Even though it seems strange, I want to focus on the positive that I feel so comfortable in this temporary situation. It’s certainly better than the alternative when being an expat. But I’m still pretty surprised that I went from creeping on Americans to craving Scottish accents.
If home is where your heart is…is that your physical heart thus meaning you’re always can be at home wherever you are… or where my metaphorical heart feels happiest? And how do I know exactly where that is?
Are you an expat that feels as conflicted as I do when I miss my foreign assignment location?