20 Jun Let´s Talk About Roots – Guest column
After almost two decades abroad (Thailand, Singapore, Spain), I still ask myself what we mean when we talk about our ´roots´. Are those roots the same as our sense of home, our sense of belonging?
Relocating frequently means, in many ways, to start over again. Every time, it is a new beginning, and we go through various stages. Sometimes, the beginning is marked by euphoria and the rose-colored glasses that come with it – just like when my family and I moved to Barcelona. My husband was often annoyed with me during that time. He said he couldn’t say anything critical, I was simply infatuated with the city: Every time he said something negative, I responded with „yes, but…”
Eventually, the euphoria vanishes. All of a sudden, everyday life catches up with you. You ask yourself: have I arrived at this place, am I truly at home here? If you are lucky, you have a social network, a circle of friends around you. Are those recent friendships the same as those friendships you had since high school, though?
Life as an expat means constant change. And honestly, there are days when I envy my Spanish friend: she lived here her whole life. She was able to celebrate her 40th birthday with her oldest, best friends, having a party that seemed to never end. My life does not have this in store for me, although I consider myself lucky – I have many close friends, some since high school, some friends I made living abroad. The only problem is, most of them do not live close by.
Homesickness is to be expected. After all those years, it doesn’t worry me anymore. I understand that it is normal, it ebbs and flows. During your first stay abroad, it is probably still very obvious. There is a longing for home, familiar places and customs, your friends and family. The more years go by, and the more places you have lived in, things get more complicated.
Our roots grow and change! It is not that we send them, once, into our home turf and that´s it. There are ramifications, new shoots, that grow through the diverse experiences, various friendships, and many adventures that have shaped us and made us into who we are today. Of course, those old roots still exist, but they are not the only ones.
The other day, I read this proverb: ‘So here you are. Too foreign for here. Too foreign for home. Never enough for both.’ Yes, sometimes I feel exactly like this. Sometimes, I do feel uprooted. I think, this feeling is part of being an expat. Most of the time, thankfully, I can appreciate of all those wonderful things this expat life has to offer: to be surrounded by diverse cultures, to have friends all over the world, to explore new places, to learn new languages, and so much more! After all, this is what happens when you have to relocate a plant: you relocate the whole thing including its roots, so it can thrive in its new home. We will always have our roots with us.
My name is Simone Mattig. I live currently in Barcelona, with my husband and two daughters (12 and 15 years old). We moved here four years ago, after we had lived in Singapore for ten years. Before that, my first experience abroad was Bangkok.
I was trained in the advertisement sector and I am a certified communications specialist. My own business, Bevisible Pte Ltd, offers marketing and advertising services.
Furthermore, I am a yoga instructor, and yoga is an important part of my life, just like nature, traveling, creativity and of course my family and friends.