It’s been over 10 years since the last time I lived in my home country. I lived in the United States and now, I live in Belgium. When I am asked today where my home is, I am not able to answer. Is it the town where I grew up, Prague, Denver or Brussels? People say your home is where your heart is. My heart seems to be spread across all the places I have lived in.This leads me to believe that in today’s globalized world, when many of us often move to new places for work, school or any other reason, we become citizens of the world.
Living in a foreign country is certainly an experience that nobody can take away from us. Through exploration, adaptation, awareness, meeting new people, learning about new cultures and languages, we grow and our personality is being shaped. As much as it can be positive and exciting, the move and settling in a new country can also be challenging and even negative. Many people experience a cultural shock and I wasn’t an exception.
I always thought of myself as someone that can easily adapt to new environment and embrace change. I moved to Brussels from Denver, Colorado, where I lived for eight years. The move was very quick but exciting. I was looking forward to my new job and planning all the traveling I would do in Europe. I love to travel and to get to know new places and cultures.
However, the start here brought a lot of challenges. Since I didn’t speak any French or Flemish, which are the two main languages here in Brussels, it was challenging to look for an apartment, deal with government, and just do the things needed in order to get settled here.
Luckily, Brussels is quite international and many locals do speak English well and the others at least try. The few people I knew here helped me a lot at the start and I was grateful for that. It took me many months to adapt to life here, be comfortable and start seeing the positive sides. Looking back, I see how important it was to embrace the feelings and admit that I was experiencing a cultural shock. I read a lot about it and pushed myself to do activities that were important for my assimilation here even though I didn’t feel like doing them at all at that time.
I would not take back the decision to move to Belgium no matter how challenging it was. Furthermore, when an opportunity arises, I won’t hesitate to move to another country again. I believe the next move and the move after the next will become easier and easier. This experience, together with the education from ISM helps me grow, become stronger and even more culturally sensitive and aware. The world is becoming my home…