When you live abroad for many years, sometimes you can start to view your home country in a different way than you would if you were actually living there still. Many of us have fallen victim to the rose-coloured memories, almost like the dream sequences you see in movies – everything back there is somehow more vivid, the people are so much nicer, and the entire place is oh so clean and tidy.
But is your home country really that magical land you’re thinking of? Or is it just how you want to picture it, your memories distorted to fit your emotions?
In my case, I definitely think so.
Living for the past 20 years in Cyprus, I undoubtedly view my home country, Sweden, and us Swedes in an entirely different light compared to how I likely would if I had not taken the plunge and moved away.
In my first few years of island living, I couldn’t stop comparing everything Cyprus was lacking to how much better I thought everything was in Sweden. The drivers were better in Sweden (they still are), the infrastructure is far superior (it still is), and OMG, can’t IKEA finally come to Cyprus and teach people here how proper furniture should be delivered?! In flat packs of course, everyone knows that! (Note: IKEA has finally come to Cyprus and I am relieved to report that peace has been restored, at least in my home.)
I must confess though that after careful consideration, I have tried really hard and have hopefully managed to tone down my complaints as much as possible. Because we expats should all take a moment to think about the implications of our rants about our new home country. If everything is so good “back home” and we have so many issues adapting to our new island home, why don’t we just move back?
For me, the answer to that question is simple: I don’t want to. Hence the reason I am trying so hard to not complain too much, because what I gain in my new home country is worth more than all the minor things I could whine about.
Even though island driving is somewhat challenging, it only takes me 15 minutes to get to my job, with hardly any traffic jams worth mentioning.
The weather plays a big part, clearly. Nearly every day of the year, I can fika (have my coffee) at the beach and take a swim in the Mediterranean should I wish. Simple pleasures, to be sure, though immeasurably important to my overall well-being. And if for some reason I find myself missing the cold snow from the north, there is always the possibility to take an hour’s drive up to the Troodos mountains and go skiing in the short winter months here too.
And yes, the laid back Mediterranean lifestyle is something that I have gotten used to and something that I believe has changed me as a person, hopefully for the better. Learning to relax and go with the flow is a small price to pay for occasionally becoming a bit unorganized due to the slower pace of life.
And we’ve received some big news for our little island: this year, H&M will be opening a store in Cyprus.
So now that I’m able to both decorate my home and dress myself in the Scandinavian way, I truly have no reason to complain. Or to ever go back.