Although I sometimes apply the “wherever I lay my hat that’s my home” principle, especially when travelling, the concept of HOME is actually quite tricky to define. For me there are so many elements to HOME. Yes there is the building, the decor, the furniture I have chosen, the soft furnishings, the art on the wall, the books in the bookshelf, music on the iPod, the trinkets on the shelves and the photos all around. It is the little sanctuary in which I can hide from the world, regroup, entertain friends and family, chill out, relax, be myself.
home is more than the physical components
But there is more to it than just the physical components. Being at HOME is also all about being with the people I am close to; who “get” and accept me. It is the conversations, the looks, the banter, the hugs and affection – with only these I can feel at home anywhere.
it’s the people and society too
So if the connection and time spent with those closest to me is what makes me feel at HOME, in today’s world of super-connections via the internet and telephony systems, really the world is my oyster in terms of deciding on where to live…or so you would think. But having lived in Switzerland for the past three and a half years, feeling at HOME is also linked, for me at least, with the commonalities I see between my core values (and attitudes) and those of the society in which I am living.
So if I had the choice (and I do) where would I choose to live?
For me this is quite simple. I would love to live in both the UK and Switzerland, taking trips abroad to other countries on a semi-regular basis. However, in practice this may require some ingenuity to overcome some logistical issues, like residency permits and having work that is location-independent.
I love the UK because it is the country I grew up in. My family and a large number of friends live there. I understand how things work, like local government administration, the legal system, the tax system (or at least I know enough and when I need to, I know where to find out more!). I know the unwritten rules, the etiquette, the expectations. I love the choice, in terms of produce, entertainment, lifestyle, career. The diversity and variety is so vast. Of course the food is important: the Sunday roast, the cans of baked beans, the marmite, the fish and chips, the fantastic Indian and Chinese cuisines, the great British cheeses like cheddar and stilton and of course the great British banger. And there is the countryside, heritage and history….. I think you can see that I really do love my “home” country.
But equally there are things in Switzerland which I love. I love the chocolate, the cheese, the mountains and lakes, the cow bells, the punctual clean trains and all the things you associate with Switzerland. But more than that I love the traditions, the strong sense of family, the respect, the politeness, the way “everything” just works. I love the language and the sing-song intonation as it is spoken. I love that on Sundays in Switzerland you can’t help but relax; the shops are shut and so it is really a day to spend with family and friends. I love the Swiss attitude to Health and Safety, which is so much more pragmatic and requires you to use your common-sense. I love the plethora of outdoor activities for winter and summer: skiing, snowboarding, ice-skating, snow-shoeing, cycling, lake-swimming, hiking, in-line skating, the vitaparacours, via ferattas. And yes, over the past 3 and a bit years I have come to learn and am still learning how the administration works, the language, the etiquette and the unwritten rules.
but don’t forget the travel
I guess I am greedy and I want to take the best bits of both countries and make my ideal! As that is really not possible, the next best thing is to be able to split my time between the two countries I love, also making time for further exploration and discovery through regular trips around the world.
Written by Catherine Evans Joines
This blog post was written in response to the Suitcase Entrepreneur’s 30 Day Blog Challenge – Day 22