It has been said that “Home is where the heart is” and I would have to partially agree with that. However, I have recently decided that the feeling of familiarity is also a vital factor. I have lived abroad 6 1/2 years of my life. I feel connected to the countries in which I have resided, and to some that I have only visited. So what exactly makes one feel “at home?” Is it time spent there, connections made, property purchased, or familial ties? Of course, it can be any combination of these things, or then again, none of them at all.
One thing I recognized as a common bond of the places I have referred to as “home” is a sense of familiarity. When I know how to find the things I want to find, get where I want to go, and have some sort of connection to the people and place itself, I tend to call that place home.
I have now lived in three cities in Korea: Ulsan, Seoul and now Gyeongsan/Daegu. Ulsan is what I would consider my Korean hometown. It’s the place I started my Korean life at, the place I know very well, and the place I have several close friends in. It has an extremely special place in my heart, in spite of the mere 12 months living there. Seoul, although I was never “in love” with the city, definitely grew on me and I learned to be very fond of the capital city, for many of the same reasons I mentioned regarding Ulsan. Lastly, I have been in Gyeongsan (just outside of Daegu) for just over 4 months now. I am adjusting to it and find that any discontent, or longing for another city rather, stems from not yet having a true sense of familiarity.
Last week, I traveled to Seoul and as I saw familiar landmarks from the bus window, I became energized with excitement. It was at that moment that I realized this familiarity was so important to me.
So, if you find yourself in a place that you’d rather not be living, try to get out and familiarize yourself with the local markets, stores, people and activities. You just might find that you’ll be wanting to call that place “home.” Many blessing to you as you find your path that leads you to your home.