Student - 29 juli 2019

Tourist-at-home syndrome

Are you studying in another city than where you were born and raised? Well, then you might recognise what Resource blogger Donatella Gasparro is experiencing right now. ‘I turned into a tourist in my own town.’

© Sven Menschel

Although my plans were definitely not what they ended up being, I am having a surprisingly long break from Wageningen this summer. I say ‘from Wageningen’ and not just ‘break’, because part of this time away was meant to be spent working on my thesis from home.

But home is a weird concept at this point in my life, and in the lives of many of us living abroad and going back to the roots just a few weeks per year. What happened to me and probably to many others is that, first, I don’t really have my own space anymore and, second, I turned into a tourist in my own town.

Childhood rooms

Not having ‘my own space’ means: 1. things change; and 2. people do as well. Thus childhood rooms get reshuffled, people move, family situations change, or you simply don’t really feel at home anymore in a space you haven’t lived in for a long time, where your things and habits are absent. Plus, studying and working require high focus and a work‑proof environment that the abovementioned childhood rooms often do not guarantee. This all results in thinking about working a lot, but working just a bit, sometimes, in the spare time between a family lunch and a swim in the sea with friends. One day, I will forgive myself for this. Not quite there yet.

Every time I’m back, I simply feel on holiday

Tourist-at-home syndrome

In addition to the ‘home’ crisis, there’s the tourist-at-home syndrome. Every time I’m back, I simply feel on holiday. Work is in the Netherlands and somehow can’t cross the border. Being in Italy just a few weeks per year makes me want to eat all the traditional dishes, visit all the cool places again, splurge on concerts and dinners and, of course, catch up with all my friends who are still around. The tourist fever also leads to the discovery of new things, and I tend to look at my place with different eyes all the time. I love coming back here in different seasons and enjoy diverse stages of the fruits ripening, of the grasses drying out, of the fields changing colour across the months. I often realise that I missed out on something, like the ripening of figs or the harvest of fava beans. I never manage to be there when pomegranates are ready in autumn, for instance. It’s okay, but good to remember. It reminds me that a lot happens everywhere at the same time and life continues even when you don’t see it. Indeed, meanwhile, zucchini are ripening in my garden in the Netherlands.

What’s ripening right now right where you are?


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