20 In Expat Life

Why You Should Stop Telling Expats to Come Home


Dear family, friend, acquaintance from my hometown,

I miss you so much! I know we used to see each other more often and the time difference now makes it difficult. We have our own lives and it’s tough to talk and keep in touch. Despite the time and the distance though, please know that I still think about you.

But I’m writing to you today to ask you if you could please stop asking me to come home or when I’m coming home.

I appreciate that you love me and care about me and want to see me again soon. I want that too! But you need to understand that telling me to come home and asking me when I can come home makes it very difficult.

Hey maybe I want to come home every year for Christmas and be there for weddings and birthdays and funerals and all the other mundane moments in between, but the reality of it is I probably can’t afford it. The reality of it might be that I’m living in a different country that’s across the ocean and across the world and making it home for a week is probably impossible.

The reality of being an expat isn’t all beauty and adventures like many of us might try to make it look. Don’t get me wrong – being an expat is awesome and allows you to see into the culture of a different country, meet new people, live abroad and explore new places for a while. However, it’s also highly difficult to handle at times.

As much as it can be lovely, being an expat can be lonely and awkward and difficult and sad. There are highs and lows to life abroad. You probably see the photos of me on adventures, eating out at cool new restaurants and meeting new people. What you don’t get to see is when I cry myself to sleep because I wish I was home, I wish I understood the culture/language/people more, I wish I could hug my parents and see my friends.

Those lonely moments don’t happen all the time, but they do happen and when you ask me to come home you make me sad and sometimes even make me regret moving and that’s not something I want to regret. I cherish it!

I probably moved to a different country because I felt like exploring and seeing if the grass truly is greener elsewhere – that’s usually false – and I probably love life abroad despite the difficult lows. It definitely changed me to live abroad and I don’t want to be constrained to ideas of who I used to be or what people expect me to be.

In my eyes, telling me to come home is equal to telling me to be the person I used to be, and I’ve probably moved on.

I’m not saying this to hurt you – just like you probably aren’t saying it to hurt me. I’m telling you because despite the distance we’re still friends or family and we stayed close and that means a lot! Many friends and family disappear through distance, but we’re still in contact and that’s what matters in the long run. I’ll come visit when I can and in the meantime we get to Skype and Whatsapp and email and as long as this works, it means the world to me.

With love,

An expat

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