I feel homesick although I don’t have a home.
I left everything behind to gain the freedom of traveling. It’s beautiful. It feels as if you had grown wings. And it feels scary from time to time because you don’t know where the wind will take you. I love to explore new cultures and to get to know their traditions and rituals. Now and then I feel homesick. It makes me feel dizzy. The feeling is hard to grasp. I do not really miss Germany or Switzerland where I spent the last few years. But I miss a certain feeling these countries gave me.
I miss being part of the society. Did you ever think about it? We take it for granted. To belong to a society and to be part of it is a strong bond. It gives you security. You only think about it when you are not part of a society. In Indonesia – where I am at the moment – I look different. My skin color makes it obvious to everybody that I am not from here. Society here is not so open that this wouldn’t matter. It does matter. I am not part of the society and I feel it everyday. Even when I stay longer in one place I am still foreign. I can not hide, I can not go with the flow. There is no flow around me – everybody stares, waves and reacts around me. It can be tiring.
I miss having a meaningful, real conversation. I am stuck in the role of a tourist here although I stay at an amazing place at the moment: the staff here is exceptional, very open and friendly. But I can not change the fact that I am a traveler and that they treat me like a tourist. Conversations are not on the same level. It’s a lot that separates us in our minds. Conversations don’t go deep and they don’t feel real. It feels like part of a game whose goal I do not understand.
I miss understanding the culture. You feel so insecure when something goes wrong; I had a flat tire with my scooter the other day and I worried a lot about how to fix the problem, where to bring it, how much it might cost… All because I don’t know this culture very well. I am constantly learning (which is a good thing). You depend on other people so much, all the time! This is tiring. I like being able to fix problems on my own and to know how things work. Here I don’t.
I hate the feeling of somehow being wrong, doing wrong, looking wrong. It leaves me with that aqward feeling. It frustrates me because I try to adjust. When I dress modestly I still look different. When I made pancakes for everyone I felt as if I had done something wrong – knowing that I did something nice, not figuring out what was wrong. A terrible, frustrating feeling.
I miss speaking the same language, communicating and meeting new people. It is pretty much the same as I mentioned above but it all has to do with the language. When it is hard to communicate this is a big barrier for everything: for meeting new people, for everyday life, for feeling comfortable.
While writing these sentences I have to think of the refugees in Hamburg, Germany, where I lived before. They must have all of these feelings I guess. I didn’t make it much easier for them to feel welcome, I think. How often did I stare at them? How often did I not communicate? When did I try to integrate them into daily life – even with simple things?
I was offered traditional food – banana fritter and tempeh (fried tofu) – from the staff here in Indonesia, and it made me feel so welcome! In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, we were often asked where we are from, where we stay at the moment and what our further plans are. This was so nice. The city didn’t remain anonymous but became personal. It can be so simple. I really hope that I am going to remember that feeling of being foreign and that I will make a difference when I am part of a society in my future home. And it would make me really happy if some nice people find my writing inspiring and reflect on their possibilities to make all those foreign people in their cities feel welcome. We all need a home. Make it easy for them to be a part of your city. Respect and honor their attempts to adjust instead of giving them the feeling of doing wrong or looking different. When we feel secure and welcome we can invest our talents and dare to show who we are. Without a home and a base most people will never feel confident and accepted enough to give what they have.