It’s that time again. Time to visit my family in Slovakia in a couple of days. If feels great, yet at the same time, it feels a bit strange at times. It’s familiar, yet at the same time, everything just seems so different. My emotions when I go home are somewhat mixed.
There are the feelings of happiness, anticipation, and the excitement of counting down the days left till I see my family. But there is also confusion and shock, and I’m feeling a bit nostalgic when I see them, when I’m back to where I grew up. Why do I feel that way? It’s my home after all. But then, I’ve got a home in the UK as well.
Twelve years since I left the comfort of my home is a long time, and although I regularly visit, at least a couple of times a year, life goes on, for myself and my family as well.
The NOW and back THEN
There are a lot of things that have changed since I left. There were weddings, big birthday parties in my family, even a few funerals in that time. I missed the majority of these family events. I’m always super excited if there is some big family gathering during my visits.
When I left Slovakia, my sister was just finishing her college; my brother was at Uni, all of us were single, living with our parents (that is until I moved to the UK, of course). Now, we have our own families, all eventually moved out from the family nest. There are even two little kiddos added for our parents to finally enjoy some much-awaited grandchildren.
When I was growing up, there used to be a lovely little forest behind our block of flats. We used to play there as kids, run around with friends, go for a walk with our dog. Now, every time I visit, more and more new villas are built right there where the forest once stood. It’s a lucrative place, much sought after tourist area, that is developing at a rapid rate. The forest has basically disappeared. It always makes me feel a bit sad when I look out the window, and it’s no more there.
I don’t recognise the people, especially the young generation anymore. You see, during these twelve years, all the kids that were little back then are grown-ups now. People I used to know have moved on, started their own families.
It still feels like a home in many ways when I take a walk around my home town but all the new developments, which weren’t there when I left, make me feel like a stranger at times. Like I don’t belong there anymore.
Back then, when I still lived in Slovakia, we even had a different currency, called Koruna. Now we have Euros. I don’t even remember our old money that much. Euros have become the new norm.
So much has changed since I left. Life back home indeed goes on. Oh yes, it does. But enough of nostalgia. Let’s see some other things that usually happen when I visit.
Lots of things to look forward to
Of course, number one is seeing my family. When you don’t see them on a regular basis, you start to appreciate these moments a lot more. Catching up with friends, indulging in Slovak food, the opportunity of free babysitting, less responsibility are few other things I usually love about visiting home.
This time, I’m also super excited to meet my best friend’s new baby boy. It feels so surreal that we are mums now. I remember our college days so clearly. Fast forward fifteen years later and we both have our little bundles of joy now.
Food – the good and the bad side
I’m always spoiled rotten when I visit home. My mum only cooks my favourite dishes, but the trouble is, I don’t remember half of the food I used to eat and enjoy when I was living there. So, anytime she asks me what I want for dinner, I have to dig deep in my memory to come up with something. Or sometimes, I just let her decide, as I know that anything she cooks will be delicious.
But here’s the issue. It’s not just the food that I indulge in. Oh no, it doesn’t end there. My mum bakes as well. A LOT. There is one not so good side effect of visiting home. Inevitable weight gain. And there is often some family celebration, Christmas, Easter or another occasion when I visit. Definitely no shortage of homemade cakes. And it’s impossible to resist the temptation. After all, you won’t have that when you return to your normal life, so stuffing your face with all the yummy food feels justified.
It feels strange to speak Slovak
When I suddenly hear the Slovak language everywhere, radio, TV, outside, around me, it feels surreal, and it takes me at least few days to get accustomed to it fully. It’s not uncommon for me to answer in English when people talk to me in the Slovak language. These English words just pop into my head so naturally now.
When you live abroad, your new language will be a part of your everyday life, and whether you like it or not, it will in some way begin to take over your mother tongue.
There is never enough time
When you are at home, you know that you are there for a limited time only. There is never enough time to do all you want to do. It’s just impossible to see all your family and friends at the same time. I don’t know if its just me but I do feel under pressure sometimes.
You have your family around who wants to spend as much time with you as possible. And then there are your few close friends you still keep in touch even after all these years away. I love a good catch up and have a few drinks. I say few since I am a mum now, so it wouldn’t be wise and appropriate anymore to let my hair down, but it used to be more than few in the good old days. We talk about each other’s lives and reminiscing about our past together. Nothing can beat that.
I enjoy less responsibility
Another thing that I do enjoy every time I visit is the fact that I have a lot less responsibility back home. I don’t have to worry about the usual daily tasks all that much, such as shopping, cooking, cleaning. Of course, I do help my mum but I know the dinner will be ready, the house will be spotless, the fridge will always be full, with or without me around. Isn’t it great to have this luxury from time to time?
Whatever my overall thoughts are about visiting home, I do enjoy it. It’s a great feeling to know that there is a place, a small little town in a beautiful mountain resort, I can always return to.
How is your experience when you visit your home country? Can you relate to any of this? Please share your views below. I’m off to do some packing now. Hurray.