Everybody who decides to leave home and travel to a new country faces new experiences and things to learn. Depending on how connected you are to your home, family, and friends, it varies whether you leave with the feeling of finally being free or of already knowing that you will miss them. Nonetheless, once you have settled into your “new” home you forget about the little things back where you are from – at least that is how it went for me.
There are the obvious things, like your mom’s food and your old house, that you will always miss a bit. But, I’m talking about the small things that you forget about, things you didn’t know you missed from home. The question is, is there any way to get over them or replace them? I will tell you my answer to that at the end, but first: my list of things I didn’t know I missed.
1. Hearing people speak your language
When I was sitting on the train in Germany, the first thing I noticed was all the people around me speaking German. Although I was about to roll my eyes at the perfect German accent, I couldn’t hold back a little smile. After not having lived in Germany for eight years, I find it very amusing listening to people speak the language I once used to speak daily myself. Listening to people and hearing the differences between young people’s and older people’s way of talking reminds me of a different time and gives a piece of familiarity. As well as noticing the different words that I didn’t think of in a long time and hearing the different accents. Especially in public transport, I suggest to every migrant to put down the headphones and listen to the people around you. It is something very special and, if you hadn’t left the country, you probably wouldn’t understand the extraordinary satisfaction of listening to the language.
2. Shops and their brands
Walking through shops in Ireland, I constantly think of the shops I grew up with. It is easy to get frustrated when you don’t find exactly what you are looking for. But, when you go back home and go through shops, you remember things you totally forgot existed. Your shop’s own brands and the yoghurt you used to love when you were six. All of a sudden, it feels like the range of things has gotten so much bigger and you can spend an hour in the little shop around the corner because you’ve missed their products. I always buy things from the shops and bring them back to Ireland with me. I think I will remember it all now, until my next visit to Germany when I realise “Wow! I totally forgot about that and wish I had this in Ireland”.
3. People and their attitude
I have already mentioned listening to people and enjoying the familiarity with the language. This is quite similar, but slightly different. I’d say every country has stereotypes and prejudices. Obviously, these are not correct for every individual in that country, but I think I can confidently say that some of the German stereotypes are true. We are direct and, depending on where you are from, you have different character types (all according to prejudices).
Being back at home, you will meet these stereotypes and prejudices, and you will smile about them. Maybe you used to be like that too or have completely changed. However, it is somewhat nice to be back home and meet all these types of people that you normally wouldn’t face in your new home.
4. Driving through the town
You cannot bypass this when you are back at home – driving on the streets you used to be on every day. Roads that never meant anything to you seem so important now. Being back at home, I always look out the window to see what is happening. I remember my old classmate’s house and see the hospital I went to when I thought I broke my arm. These are all small places that I don’t think of on a day-to-day basis. I think everyone living abroad knows what I am talking about. Places that didn’t mean anything to us when we lived there, but now we connect memories to them.
I don’t know why, but every time I see my old lunchboxes in my Mom’s cupboard I just want to take them with me. This is probably something that everyone misses when moving out from home – whether this is to live in a different country or just moving to a new town. I connect lunchboxes with the time when I went to school and my Mom would still make me lunches. It is a time of being dependent but also a time when you were looked after. This is what I miss when I see my old Tupperware lunchboxes. It might be something else for different people, but I think there is something left behind in every home that doesn’t seem special yet that reminds you of a different time.
6. This and That
This is a very specific last point. I could write for another hour, but this is the best description for this category. There are these small things you used to have. There was this ordinary egg slicer or that usual Sellotape dispenser. There is nothing special about these things and that is why you forget about them. But, once you see them you go: “Aw, I missed that so much!”. Little things that were always around you and that you just don’t have anymore. Every time I go home I look through cupboards just to discover all these things that I have forgotten about. Just to remember them again and then forget them until the next visit.
There are all these little things you forgot about. Only when you see them do you realise you have missed them and this lovely feeling of being at home they give you. All the things mentioned were rather invisible when you lived at home. Yet, they trigger something when you see them now.
How can we replace these things?
There is probably one more point that can be added to the list: your new home. This is also the answer to the question. Especially after living away from home for a long time, we establish our own way of doing things. We have new accents we can listen to and we get to love all the new brands and foods that we didn’t know before. Being back at what used to be our home, we don’t only realise what we left behind, but what we gained in our new home. We have new places to make memories and don’t need anyone to fill our lunchbox anymore. There is a lot we miss from home, but the best way to get over it is to worship all the same little things we have in our new home.
Let us know if you have any more of these tiny yet meaningful things you only realise you miss when you see them.