I am the type of person where I consider “home” to be wherever I am staying for the night. If I’m at school, my dorm room or apartment is home. If I’m in New Jersey, my parent’s house is home. If I’m on vacation, my hotel room is home. I’ve always been one to travel and relatively independent, so it typically doesn’t take me very long to adjust to calling someplace new home.
That being said, that doesn’t mean that I always feel comfortable in a new place from the second I get there, which I think is really natural. There are cultural differences, language differences, and just general differences in daily life. It’s also definitely hard to feel comfortable and adjusted when there are only so many Americans that live around you and all of them are clearly more experienced. There are four missionary families living out in the bush with the Baka currently, and one of them leaves next week. That’s definitely overwhelming—coming into a literal foreign situation being the only newbie. Yes, they two were newbies at one point or another, but that point was over 10 years ago.
All of that being said, I’m here to pose (and try to answer) the question: at what point does a home become a Home when traveling abroad? A home, for me, is the place that I’m staying for an extended period of time, but a Home is someplace where I feel comfortable and like I can relax.
It’s definitely weird coming into the situation living with the Conrods because their home has been their Home for about 13 years now. To an extent, I guess I’ll never really feel totally comfortable just because they have way more control over the environment than I do, but there is definitely a point that I reach some level of comfort where I am more comfortable here than I am anywhere else in this situation/at this point in time.
Anyways, I did promise to answer this question at some point in the post so here I go. I think for me, out here in middle-of-nowhere Cameroon, it felt like Home when we had visitors and I was able to know more about the environment than they did. I was the expert in the situation. The Hares (another family working with a different people group nearby) came to visit and brought their intern, Hunter. Hunter and I had roomed together my first couple nights here and she was the only other twenty-something-year-old girl out here. When I was showing her around, I realized how much I knew about how we ran things and I used terms like “our house” and “my room.” At that moment I had a realization that this was not only my home, like a hotel room in Disney World but also my Home. A place that I had a personal connection to and felt fully relaxed in.
Keep in mind that my idea of both home and Home is completely subjective and I know a lot of people have different perspectives. My dad, for example, sees my home as my parent’s house in New Jersey and makes a point to correct me when I refer to the University of Delaware as home. For Peter, home is his mother’s house, even though he is technically rarely there because of his busy schedule. For some people, even after moving away, home is the place that they grew up. Comment below your thoughts on what home is and where your home is!