When people ask me how long I’ve lived in Luxembourg, my answer is always the same: Technically I’ve lived here for 2 years, but I’ve only just started to feel like I actually live here. It’s only in recent months that it’s started to feel like a true home.
I moved to a new country a few months before March 2020 when the world changed due to Covid. My ability to meet new people, engage in new cultural events, and explore the country was limited. Under Covid, my ability to connect with and with in my new ‘home’ was severely stunted.
So, what does it take for the place you’re living in to feel like ‘home’?
I can always pinpoint the moment when a new city feels like home: I’ll be walking around the neighbourhood where I live, and I will feel a sense of comforting familiarity in my surroundings.
For me, ‘home’ is about familiarity – recognizing the route home and no longer needing Google Maps to get there. Knowing which bus to take and when to catch it. Knowing which grocery stores to visit to get which products. Being able to recommend a favourite restaurant, and when someone invites me for coffee, being able to say, “I know a great place!”
Building a sense of ‘home’ can mean different things for different people. Home can mean:
having a place of rest and respite
having a base of adventure from which you can explore
learning about local culture and participating in cultural events
building connections with new friends, and feeling part of a community
contributing to your new community, and being able to give back
What makes you feel ‘at home’ in your new environment? And what could you do, this week, today, to intentionally cultivate that ‘at home’ feeling even more?
In the first 2 years of ‘living here but not really living here’, my husband and I hiked all around our new country. It helped me connect to the land, learn the nuances of the landscape, appreciate the varied beauty of the different regions. For me, seeing so many new locales helped my feel at home in a country I couldn’t really do much in yet!
Now that restrictions are lifting and I feel comfortable meeting new people in real life again, I am able to cultivate my new community that will help me even more feel at home. Gradually, every day, with each new interaction and experience, I feel more ‘at home’ in my new home.
Liz Parsons has been an accompanying spouse since 2017, through 2 international relocations. She is a certified coach with 10+ years experience, a Master of Education degree, and the Founder of Comfort Challenge Coaching. Liz helps accompanying spouses and partners feel like themselves again after an international move.