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How do you make a place your own?

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How do you make a place your own?

Postby Johnny1975 » Sat Oct 17, 2015 1:23 pm

If you move to a country that has little or no cultural connection to yours, how do you make it your own? Is it possible? Can you really be a british or american person and move to (i.e.) Thailand and expect to be able to call it home? Can you ever really fit in? Obviously if you look different, you'll never be seen as one of them, but can you at least reach a point where in your heart you can call the place your own? I don't know if that's possible.

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Re: How do you make a place your own?

Postby MarcosZeitola » Sat Oct 17, 2015 1:38 pm

When you surround yourself with friends and family, get your own house, fill it with your own things and invite people over that you like, soon you will find that your HOUSE has become your HOME. But you need to integrate yourself in society, be among people, socialize and adapt.

I know of an old Belgian priest who moved to the Philippines. He made friends, he worked there for many decades, but never bothered to learn the language; he spoke only a few words of Tagalog, his English was poor and he was hanging onto Dutch language and cuisine for his dear life. He refused to eat the local food, instead eating bland boiled potatoes and drinking imported beers, hung around with expats primarily and considered being among locals a chore. He ended up in a home for retired priests in Baguio where he died a few years ago. He was in ninety years old and, by all accounts, miserable.

Then there is an old British man I know of who moved to the Philippines, married a local woman and has been living there for thirty years. Spoke the language fluently, his kids went to school there, he went to a local church and pretty much became a Filipino. He died a couple of years ago but I met his widow last year in a fastfood restaurant, she speaks of him so kindly. He really tried to fit in, and it seems to me he succeeded. His house became his home.

So eat the food, befriend the people, learn the language and appreciate the culture, is my advice. Have, what they call a "cowboy mentality" over here; be willing to try new things, eat and drink foods you find downright bizarre, go places undiscovered, go off the beaten path, be your own man, and stop being a perpetual tourist. Avoid hanging around with fellow expats too much. That's how you make a place foreign, familiar, and make it your own. ;)
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Re: How do you make a place your own?

Postby Johnny1975 » Sat Oct 17, 2015 2:10 pm

I agree with all of that. I would do all of those things although I wouldn't necessarily get involved 100% in everything (ie eating certain foods or agreeing with all of their cultural values) but I would certainly go as far as possible.

But still, after doing all of that, it would still be a very different culture. For people who move to another country while very young or who have been back and forth a lot while growing up, you can call a place home because it's part of your formative years.

But once you're an adult, I don't know if you can really call another culture home. Sure you can function there, but that's different.

Or maybe you can. But I can't see how it can be done.
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Postby Ghost » Sun Oct 18, 2015 7:08 am

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Last edited by Ghost on Wed Oct 26, 2016 4:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How do you make a place your own?

Postby Johnny1975 » Mon Oct 19, 2015 10:44 am

Ghost wrote:If it's a different culture, it will never truly be your own. There are different levels of being an outsider, though. It's not all hopeless on that front.

I would need my own bubble that I can retreat into, and that will hold true anywhere. That's one reason of many that I couldn't live in Philippines, for example. Then if you have a frustrating day, you have a place to retreat into.


Why not the Philippines? They speak english (sort of) and there are expats here and there. What would it take for you to be able to live in a particular country?
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Re: How do you make a place your own?

Postby Yohan » Mon Oct 19, 2015 12:25 pm

Johnny1975 wrote:If you move to a country that has little or no cultural connection to yours, how do you make it your own? Is it possible? Can you really be a british or american person and move to (i.e.) Thailand and expect to be able to call it home? Can you ever really fit in? Obviously if you look different, you'll never be seen as one of them, but can you at least reach a point where in your heart you can call the place your own? I don't know if that's possible.


I am living as an European man in Japan since more than 30 years.
OK, I look differently, I do not really fit in, Japanese is not my native language, Japanese seafood is not my favorite dish and so on, and what is the problem? I am here the foreigner and I enjoy to be the foreigner.

If you move into a foreign country it is most important that your passport, visa and your labor permit are valid, that you have a good health insurance cover and a good job.

About calling my area in Tokyo my home, this is easy. It is merely based on local people living around me and who are accustomed to my presence. I am using since many years, even decades, the same motorcycle repair shop, the same barber, the same dentist and other medical doctors, the same restaurants, the same post-office, the same small shops for vegetables and bakery etc. - Japanese people often do not know their neighbors living in the next street, but they all know me. Often people are greeting me by my name but I have no idea who they are. Nobody expects me to show up as a Japanese - simply said, I am living among Japanese, but I am not a Japanese... LOL

I can only laugh if some foreigners asking me if I feel 'discriminated' - The answer is No, I do not feel discriminated.
Last edited by Yohan on Mon Oct 19, 2015 12:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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