There’s no place like home…but where is home?

When I used to live in my village I used to want to escape. For me it was boring and I wanted to experience life in a big city, where there was more fun, more excitement, more culture and more interesting people or so I thought! The truth is I never realised that there was no place like home until I actually left home for a while.
I could have many homes. I was born in my village Volduchy and then moved to the nearby town Pilsen at about the age of four. At the age of six me and my parents immigrated to the UK where my auntie and cousins were already living for the last twelve years. We were running away from “the evil communists” as my father then explained to me. However we ran away a bit late in early 1989 and communism fell in the Czech Republic in November of the same year. Nevertheless we decided to stay in London for another 3 years. When we were leaving my parents told me that we were just going on holiday for two weeks and then we would be back because they didn’t want me to tell our secret to the border control as back then this would have been illegal. However the fact that the entire family was left to leave to go on holiday was in itself a sign that the system was getting weaker. Previously this would not have been allowed. Children had to be left at home as a guarantee that the parents would return.
When I was about ten years old we moved back from London to the village and I rediscovered my home. I made lots of new friends and spent my teenage years living  there. Although I made so many good friends here, I always wanted to escape. I yearned for the opportunities and excitement of London. Since the age of 13 I went to London every summer to work in cafes and have new experiences and meet new people.
When I was 17 I convinced my father I wanted to leave my high school in Czech and move to London again and finish my high school there. He was not happy about it, but in the end my constant pleading brought results and I was allowed to move.
I went to high school in London and my classmates were from many different backgrounds. Over the years I have met people from almost every country and made friends from all over the world including Brazil, Kosovo, Slovenia, Italy, South Africa, India, Iraq, Jemen, Lebanon, Algeria, Turkey, Japan, Spain, Poland and many more that I can’t even remember right now, oh and I also made a few friends that were English of course. I met most of my best friends while I was at high school, they are from Singapore, Iran, New Zealand and Columbia and Brazil. We all have in common our life in London, yet we all learnt from each other about each other’s cultures. I love the cultural diversity of London and I was initially surprised that not many of my classmates were actually completely English.
Some people might bemoan the fact that so many cultures are taking over Britain, however, I think London is unique in this sense and I see it as a bonus and not as problem. The fact that I lived my life in London, my village and Prague I feel that my home is split in three. A part of my personality was formed in each of these places and they will always be a part of me. When I am in London I miss the Czech Republic and when I am in the city I miss the country side and vice versa. Is it a case of split identity or a case of the grass is always greener on the other side? Who knows.
I feel that I will never be English, I am definitely Czech, but I am also now definitely a Londoner, which is something very different from being English. I will always be torn between being a Londoner and being from my village, I will always be both at the same time but never one alone.
This state of mind is both a blessing and a curse. When in one place a part of me will always be missing the other place, but I can’t be in both at the same. This is not just my problem, but many people in London and around the world seem to have this problem. Their parents are from another country, but they have grown up in London. Or they have lived in London for so long that some things in their countries have began to seem strange in comparison. They don’t fully belong to either culture or place. They are not accepted back home as being the same others, as their values and ideas and experiences have changed. Yet at the same time they can never become English as they were brought up surrounded by a different culture.
However despite my problems of not knowing completely where I belong at times, I am grateful for the experiences I have had and would not change them for anything. Right now I am writing this in my home village where I am on holiday from London. Sometimes I think to myself this is home, I should stay here…but I know from experience that if I stayed here for too long I would soon be missing some things from London.
What I found out though is that I never thought I would miss my village or my culture at all. I didn’t even like the village and didn’t feel particularly Czech. However, it is true that while abroad I have definitely realised that I am more Czech then I previously thought and I have realised that the nature and peace here in the countryside is bliss compared to hectic London life, but perhaps that’s just me getting older. The key is, I think, to enjoy where you are at the moment and make the most of it. Because one day when you leave the country, city or town where you are now, you will miss at least some things or people about it, even though now you might be thinking that you can’t wait to get out of there. I know, I’ve been there.
So I hope you are enjoying the summer wherever you are.
Maia
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About Maia

My name is Maia, I live in London, UK, and I originally come from the Czech Republic. Maia's World is my blog where I write about life in general, personal development, and about ideas, beliefs and discoveries on how to live a fuller life.
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