Where are you from? Is a question we like to ask others to learn more about them or, if they look different than us, to learn why they are really here.
For some, like myself, this question is easy to answer. Up until this year I’d lived my whole life (except for a brief three months) in Victoria. For others who’ve had “unconventional” upbringings in the sense that they’ve moved more often, or maybe just once but at a crucial time, the answer to this question can be difficult to pinpoint.
So after living in Bangkok for six months, do I consider it to be home? And if so, at what point in that time frame did it become so?
My time in this wonderful concrete jungle has at times felt so long and others like it passed in an instant. I know looking back a year, five years, ten years, and beyond, this period of six months will seem like just a blip in my life, yet I truly believe it will be one of the most unique and special things I have ever done.
The Bangkok I have lived in from June to December 2022 exists in a time and now that will never be the same. This is for a variety of reasons. Firstly, I will never experience living independently for the first time, living in a foreign country for the first time, and living in Thailand or Bangkok for the first time. Everything I have experienced, discovered, and learned, I can never experience, discover, and learn for the first time again. All of those moments will have built up my confidence to allow myself to be prepared for whatever comes next in my life. Secondly, coming out of the very worst of COVID has allowed me to live in Bangkok at a unique time. Not just because everyone is wearing masks for the majority of their day to day life and there is an abundance of hand sanitizer everywhere, but because there have been less tourists visiting. Therefore it seems like the majority of foreigners I have seen are those that live here. To me that has made me feel a little more unique. I am not just in a city where everyone is partying for the weekend, but that I’m living and working in Bangkok like everyone else.
Without question, the biggest reason that my time in Bangkok will never be the same again is because of the people I have met, especially those in my day to day life, and in particular my coworkers turned friends. Not everything can stay the same, not everyone will continue to live in Bangkok where expat turnover rate is approximately 2-5 years, and I can’t expect that any of the people I know and enjoy seeing almost everyday and spending time with will still be here 6 months, 1 year, 2 or 5 years from now. That is what makes this defined six months in Bangkok so special, the fact that these people are here now and a part of my life now. I am truly grateful for every single one of them that has shaped my experience so positively.
Lastly, I think we can all guess that what will change most is myself. I’ll never be 22-23 again, and probably won’t look at the world in the same way even just a few years down the road. I might not see it right away, but of course I know I’ve changed even in such a short amount of time, it’s inevitable.
I’ve hopefully explained how I feel that my time in Bangkok has been unique and can never be replicated, but can I truly consider it as my home? The question of home can be so closely wrapped in our identities or what causes us to question our identities.
Over the past six months I have learned about home in so many different ways, through reading about migrants, especially women. In particular I would be curious to know if women who migrate to other countries on a temporary basis ever consider those places as home? Does that change if you go independently, or with your family? Or if you have to leave them behind?
After leaving my hometown to live in another city and country, I can say that the most cliche lesson I have learned is that home is not a place, but simply, the people who make you feel happy and loved. Home is not a static concept, but rather one that can be moving and exist in many places. I consider Bangkok to have been my home because I was here for six months. When I left on trips there was always somewhere to come back to, somewhere I had left my belongings, and somewhere where I knew there were people who were expecting me. I still consider Victoria to be home simultaneously as I have been living in Bangkok. I’ve spent the majority of my life there, my parents live there, and all the rest of my family is on Vancouver Island. These two places are both where I feel happy and loved.
When I leave I will no longer consider Bangkok to be home, it will move to the past tense and become a home. One of many I hope to have in the world before I choose to settle down. For now, I am cherishing my last few weeks in this incredibly special place, in this incredibly special time that will only exist for me.
Wherever you choose to be your home I hope you feel happy and loved and know that if that ever changes there’s a whole world out there waiting to welcome you.