When are you coming home?

And other things NOT to say to a person visiting their passport country.

A visit to the homeland, seeing the family and friends is something that you look forward to so much when you are living abroad. The anticipation of eating all that beautiful delicious food catching up in person is a buzz, but after five minutes with some people I’m more than ready to get back on the next available flight out of there.

“You look so German/Swiss/insert current Nationality of residence here’

Since Germany is most known for the fabulous socks and sandals combo, mullets and lederhosen unless I’m sporting at least one of those please just say ‘You look great in that outfit, it suits you’.

‘So tell us about your adventures’

Well last week I actually managed to successfully order the right cut of meat at the butchers, unfortunately it turned out to be the wrong animal, but at least it made dinner interesting. My life is the same as yours, it just takes place in a different country, please understand that I HAVE to get out and explore, to meet new people and try new things because I don’t have a cozy security of a support network unless I make it myself, I don’t consider that adventurous I consider it essential. A simple ‘so what have you been up to lately?’ is all it takes, and don’t forget I want to catch up with you too, don’t tell me ‘same old, same old’ I’ve been away I’m likely to be just as excited by your new car as I am to the fact that the local pub has changed it’s name (everything is news to me).

‘You should visit more often’

Unless you visit me more than I visit you/are giving up your hard earned holiday allowance to see me/know the ins and outs of my financial situation you might just get the answer ‘why should I visit more often?’, planes do fly in both directions. Please just say ‘We’d love to see you more, but at least we have Skype’ or maybe ‘next time we’ll come to you’.

‘You’re talking with a German/Swiss/Spanish etc accent’

Well if you had to live your life predominantly speaking a second (third, forth, whatever) language, you’d probably pick up a new accent too, in a normal week I only speak English with my husband, so it’s a little weird to be surrounded by it constantly when I visit. I have the dubious skill of also speaking a bizarre dumbed down simplistic version of English, with no colloquialisms and a German accent so it can be understood in Germany, it makes my life easier day to day, it’s how I survive. Give me a few days and I’ll be a fully fledged Northerner again, using words like mither and tiz, promise.

‘Are you enjoying yourself in *insert current country of residence*?’

This is a loaded question, if you say yes then you have to explain why you love current country over your passport country, which can leave you feeling conflicted, I love my passport country but I also love my current country too, and have different reasons for both loves. It is so difficult to explain the love hate relationship I have with my current country to someone has never lived away from their passport country, as Facebook would say ‘it’s complicated’. If you say no, well then you appear ungrateful and spoilt, and leave yourself open for the next question…

“When are you coming home?’

Please, if I haven’t mentioned this first, don’t bring it up. If I have a permanent job, a partner in my current country and am outwardly happy, the likelihood is that I’m not coming back any day soon and if I was you’d know about it. It’s not that I don’t think about it, especially when I’m having a particularly crappy day but living in a different country drastically changes what ‘home’ is and what it means for you. Personally this question can make me at best awkward and at worst? well there’d probably be tears.

I know that all these questions come from a place of love but rephrasing could be the difference between a fun trip and a trip I can’t wait to get back from. Are there any questions you hate hearing?

PS. I have a whole post on ‘Are you fluent yet?’ coming up soon 😉

9 thoughts on “When are you coming home?

  1. Ami Schwabenland says:

    I can absolutely relate to quite a few of these, especially the “You should visit more often.” Like you said, it comes from a place of love, but it’s pressure and makes me uncomfortable. I cannot be honest with my response: “I don’t want to.” I love seeing my people, but I do not enjoy being in the U.S. any more. I want to be at home, and my home is most definitely with my husband in Germany.

    The question I get most often from people outside my inner circle is not a problem: “So are you enjoying life in Germany?” I answer, “I absolutely love it, except for the driving.” Few people ask me to elaborate about anything beyond the driving, which is for the best, since doing so makes me sound negative about things in the U.S.. I’m there now for a special occasion and it’s been nice, but I’m also looking forward to going home.

    I’ve never been asked when I’m “coming home” because everyone knew this was a permanent move for me. I definitely understand your post – it’s not all roses going back to your passport country.

    • Alie C says:

      I’m so glad it’s not just me that gets uncomfortable and tongue tied answering stuff like this, as much as I love that they are interested, I’m more than just someone who lives in Germany grrr 😉

  2. bevchen says:

    I don’t think anyone has ever asked when I’m coming home – it’s more along the lines of do I think I’ll ever come back. My grandma always asks when she’ll get to see me again. She’s terrified of flying so she’ll never visit. And my dad hasn’t had a passport for about 3 years!

  3. My Traveling Joys (@MyTravelingJoys) says:

    Ha ha…I’ve heard all these too. I often think though friends/family are just curious because they can’t even relate to what you are going through! 🙂

    One I get tired of hearing is: You are so lucky! I just want to say, well, you could move to a foreign country too if you wanted, but my life isn’t easy. Try ordering meat/produce in a different language at the market. Pantomime helps! Or going to the doctor, post office, harware store, etc. I love my expat life abroad, but it’s certainly not easy and it’s NOT for everyone!

    My mom keeps asking when I’m going to move back to Nebraska! Ha!

  4. mytravelingjoys says:

    Funny enough, my mom still asks me when I’ve ever moving back to Nebraska! I have to tell here that’s NEVER gonna happen! 😉

    The one thing I get told a lot at home is: You’re so lucky! No, not really. We chose to have this expat life and so could you. But honestly, expat life is NOT for everyone. It’s not always easy to have to go to the butcher, market, doctor, stores and ask for things in a foreign language. I find pantomime always works well as a last resort too! Living abroad takes a bit more work, but we’re wiling to do it as long as we can.

    • Alie C says:

      Oh yes, how lucky I am to have to struggle to make myself understood? to develop a new community so I don’t feel so alone? to start from the very beginning and have no clue what I’m doing the majority of the time? So very lucky 😉

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