While it feels as though my journey began only 5 years ago when I first travelled to Australia, I have actually been ‘relocating’ (or ‘relocated’) for most of my life, having had 17 different homes in the UK before I even began to explore the rest of the world. This experience cultivated a certain restlessness (aka “itchy feet”) and a nagging feeling of non-belonging that moves me to keep on keeping-on.
Wanderlust: a strong desire or impulse to travel or explore the world
TCK: those who were brought up in a culture other than their either of parents’ are known as third culture kids
Global nomad: people who are living a mobile and international lifestyle, often with mobile jobs
Perpetual traveller: people who live in such a way that they are not considered a legal resident of any of the countries in which they spend time
Existential migration: conceived as a fundamental attempt to express something about existence by becoming a foreigner
The latter in particular resonated with me as well as Greg Madison’s (2006) definition of ‘home as interaction’. I will potentially write more on this once I have finished his book, The End of Belonging.
“There’s no place like home, Toto” and I’m sure I’ll know it when I find it.
What I sometimes resent about travelling is also what I love: the absolute sense of being an ‘alien’, an outsider, defined by your otherness. Not belonging is the baseline experience and therefore something to be expected, rather than a constant source of surprise and woe. The unpleasantness of not belonging in a foreign place has more to do with the inability to remain anonymous. Unless you are in Wadeye (Port Keats, Northern Territory, Australia), in which case no one even notices you exist!
In the Aboriginal communities I have been living and working in for the last 2 years, I am simply a whitefella, a balanda. In Australia in general I am a pom. More recently, I have become a gringo. The battle of trying to define myself and my place in the world is temporarily abated.