When home isn’t ‘home’ anymore

There’s a proverb I recently read that states, “Change is the breath of life.” I don’t necessarily like cheesy quotes, but there is some truth in this. There comes a period in life when the only thing constant is change. There is no backwards, only forwards. 

As a twenty-something (I really hate that term), I’m finding my world shift around me the in the most drastic of ways. I’ve always been the the type to cycle through different interests and passions, but within the past few years, I’ve felt myself stabilize.

Travel. Books. Adventure. These are the things that make me feel most alive. 

When you move across the world, not only do your surroundings change, but so does your mindset. The place where you grew up isn’t home anymore. Yes, your roots are there, but your life is somewhere else. Your feet are planted firmly on the ground, without uncertainty. You have established a life for yourself. There are people that love you in your hometown, but they must understand, it’s time to move forward.

Going back to visit is an odd sensation. People are waiting with eager smiles to hear about life overseas, but you find that even with practice, words won’t do it justice. 

Family members ask, rather urgently, “Do you think you’ll move there? Permanently?” 

The answer of course is yes, but only in time can these sorts of plans be revealed. 

I think my bags have been packed from the day I was born. After seeing so much of the world at a young age, I felt somewhere deep down that I was supposed to be somewhere else. For years, I thought I’d end up somewhere like New York. I didn’t know I’d find love and a home in Dublin, Ireland. Now that I’m there, in that great Somewhere, I feel myself exhale for what feels like the first time in a while. 

I worked hard to be where I am now. I should celebrate once in a while. 

Coming back to your hometown after living abroad is always an adjustment. Your world feels smaller again. Yes, there are the ones that love you unconditionally, but things change. Life doesn’t stop for anyone. At some point, even the ones you loved struck out on their own. It’s your turn, too.

I don’t believe that your twenties are your “selfish years” like that popular Facebook posts asserts. At this age, we care deeply about our loved ones and the places we leave behind. It’s not that we are selfish, it’s that people my age who uproot themselves so wholly and completely want a life that’s their own. 

Personally, I want one that’s not defined by who I was years ago. I want to be the person I was meant to be, even if that means putting distance between the present and the past.

The place you called home for years isn’t home anymore, and that’s okay. You may feel like a stranger in your own bedroom. It’s a sign of life moving forward. Nothing is meant to stay the same. 

One of my favorite quotes from my favorite book reads, “the only way out of the labyrinth of suffering is to forgive.” Forgive yourself. Forgive others. Let yourself grow, and don’t hold back. 

The ever-changing concept of ‘home’ for travelers 

For some, seeing the world is not just an option– it’s a necessity. 

Through the past few years of traveling, I have determined that the concept of home is always transforming. For adventure-seekers like myself, the very definition of home doesn’t necessarily exist. When you’re constantly in motion, you learn to make a home within yourself, the people you meet, and the new places you fall in love with. 

We hear all the time that home is where the heart is. The reality is that I’ve left my heart in so many places in the past few years of studying abroad. I have seen over 15 countries in three years, and would argue that I’ve left a little piece of myself in each one, with some pieces larger than others. Ireland, for example, has served as my stationary constant for the past three years. It is where I fell in love with learning again, as well as the place I became inspired to see as much of the world as I can. I feel most alive, secure, and confident in Ireland. I am prepared to make my return to my favorite place, with plans to stay indefinitely. 

Cliffs of Moher, September 2015

When I studied abroad for the first time three years ago, I was truly a lost soul. I spent my time controlled by my anxiety, obsessing over small details and having difficulty making friends. Making the leap to study abroad in the summer following my freshman year of college took all the courage I’d never know I had within me. This of course led to a second round of study abroad, this time, for a full academic year.

In these transformative times of adventure, I found that each city or country I visited reminded me a little of home. I had the privilege of seeing mothers playing with young children in Portugal, watching families leave places of worship together in Italy, and dancing along the shores of France among families and couples alike. No location is the same of course, but wherever you find yourself most captivated will stay with you, even long after you depart. If you’re lucky, you become a part of this place, even just for a second. 

Sligo, Ireland, November 2015

This changing definition of home is undeniably beautiful, but also terrifying. To those that don’t embark on a nomadic existence, even temporarily, the idea of securing a home within yourself and new lands will sound daunting. Eventually, this becomes second nature. The goodbyes before you depart are no longer scary, they are a part of this life you chose. There will always be strong connections where you leave behind, but your bags have been packed since the day you were born. You know you were never meant to stay in one place. 

Six honest feelings you have before moving abroad 

In exactly one month from today, I will be arriving in Ireland to start a new chapter– graduate school. Of course, I am excited, but there are a number of other emotions that accompany a transatlantic move. There are many joys of starting a new adventure, but there are a few anxieties that arise, too. Here are six honest feelings you’ll have before moving to a new country.

Slight Panic

I’ll admit, some days the panic feels more than “slight.” There are immigration forms to fill out, visas to apply for, and currency to exchange. You’ll have to find health insurance, a place to live, and so much more. Even though you knew this change was coming, it suddenly feels like it’s approaching quickly. In my years of abundant travel, I have learned not to necessarily believe in fate. However, I believe in good things happening to the right people who take the right chances. Your situation will fall naturally into place, if you work for it. 


Moving to a new place is undeniably thrilling. There will be new sights, smells, and food to try. You’ll get to know differentpeople, cultures, and ways of life. This is a wonderful time, and it’s important to savor every minute of it. On the days when you feel most excited and looking forward to the future, hold onto those feelings. They will come in handy during times of panic and anxiety that come with the territory. 


This is the first time you’ll truly be on your own. You’re going off into a whole new world, and it’s unlikely you’ll have the same guidance you received at home. This is both wonderful and can truthfully be downright terrifying. You’ll be in charge of yourself, and you won’t have people to answer to. Moving is a true test of your responsibility, your drive to succeed, and your ability to adapt in new situations. If you take the necessary steps to adjust smoothly and safely, you will surely thank yourself in years to come.


Before you leave, everything at home or wherever you are will sparkle a little brighter. You’ll spend more and more time reflecting on happy memories, and on some level, how hard it may be to leave them behind. Not only this, but you’re acutely aware of the goodbyes to come. Don’t let this overshadow your excitement. The cliche states that when one door closes, another opens. Try to remember that no door is truly closed, as your loved ones will always be there to support you in whatever adventure you decide. Each ‘goodbye’ could lead to another ‘hello.’


As much as moving abroad can be frightening, you are filled with hope that the experience will be everything you dreamed of. You walk with a little more pep to your step. Your dreams are filled with visions of new friendships and a fulfilling life in an exotic location. For every anxiety about moving, you are likely feeling equal parts hope that your experience will be joyful and lead to happy memories.


As much as this is an independent quest, you know that you could not do this without the support of others. This is your family, who have always believed you are capable of incredible feats. You know that without your friends to lean on, you would not have made it through the many trials and tribulations it took to get you to this pre-departure point. You know that if your professors hadn’t taken the time to talk with you about the upcoming changes, you would not have been able to stand on your own two feet during this process. Thank the ones that love you most before you go.