Abroad, You never feel at Home

Yes, it happened; it was bound to happen. I ran out of ideas.
I ran out of ideas to write about. Not that my previous ideas were too special or too brilliant. Even the brilliant idea from last night – writing about a new-comer’s experiences – was very ordinary.

She is new student I recently ran into – my new idea. From her experiences in America, I was hoping to get some new material for my blog.

“So how do you like in America?” I asked eagerly, hoping for a long story.
“Ah, it’s not all that bad, just about the same as I expected,” Dismissively, she said in a monotone.
“So, what is it that you don’t like it here, or dislike the most,” I rephrased the question, hoping to get something more.
“It is not much different; about the same as I expected,”

She was not helping out.
I paused. It cannot be; it is a new country, a new place across the ocean.
“How about the language?” I pressed on.
“No, I speak English at home in Bangalore. I can speak many languages, but English is what we use the most.”
“Wow”, I did not know what else to say. In reality, I was more disappointed than surprised.

I was getting nothing’ no ideas, no new observations from the eyes of a new immigrant to USA.

“I liked the chicken burger”, she said with a light touch of satisfaction in her voice.
“What chicken burger?”
“The one from McDonald’s, we just had, with French fries”
“Oh yeah, you like that kind of fast food?”
“I don’t like it, I love it!” she said with a smile.
“So, you don’t get it back home?” I have not been back to India for many years.
“We do; you don’t know? We have everything there, McDonald’s too?”
“Oh, ok”
I gave up; it seems like the life in India is not much different than we live here in America now-a-days.

“I wanna go home,” after a pause, she said hesitatingly. I could feel the sadness in her voice.
“What?” I wanted her to repeat it.
“I feel very homesick, even after just a month of stay in America.”
I did not know what to say to that. I was no longer looking for ideas for a blog post; I was trying to think of something to say to comfort her, or to make her feel less sad.
“I miss my family and friends. I wanna go home.” She repeated without any encouragement from my side.
“You feel like this most of the times, or just now?”
“Sometimes; well, most of the time, but I try not to think about it”

Trying to cheer her up, after a pause, I said with a smile, “So, after all, it is different back home, right? Different than here?”
“No it is the same life, but different people.”
“Like how?”
“Like, umm….I don’t know. You are always home!”
“But, you have a home here too.”
“Yeah, kind of.” She paused, looked around, “but here in US, your never feel at ‘Home’!”

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4 Replies to “Abroad, You never feel at Home”

  1. This is interesting post, actually.
    Actually, I am curious about immigrants who say life here is not different- especially those from India or Asian countries. Reason being is are these people usually hanging out with other desis/Asians/foreign students? This is a subculture and different than “American culture” because communicating/interacting is a bit different with Americans- and relating- Maybe this is what she means by America is not home, but can’t verbalise it? It’s hard to relate to people without some effort put into the process. Newbies have a lot of effort to put into relating….What do you think?

  2. Yes jennifer, you are right. It takes time to get used to the new culture and new ways of life. Nostalgia is a natural human emotion.

  3. Personally, I find that different countries have different vibe/energy about them. I instantly felt “at home” in India (no time needed to “get used to”). I also felt super-comfortable in Italy and English countryside (but not inside towns/cities).

  4. Yep, I’ve been in the UK for exactly a month. It’s a First World country with a lot many amenities and comforts for its citizens. But it really takes a lot to connect with the locals and never really feels like home…

    (am a student as well)

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