The eternal traveler syndrome.

One of the hardest things to explain to someone who has never lived abroad, is the feeling of belonging nowhere. Quoting the wise words of a restless explorer, this is what we may call “the eternal traveler syndrome”, because once you try it out, you can never stop. The experts call it “reverse cultural shock”, and it includes a variety of symptoms which I won’t start talking about.

/home/u940939301/public html/wp content/uploads/2012/06/Anorando el atardecer en el Cabo Ortegal

We could define it as the following: The memory you have of a town you leave behind will forever be the one you had when you left that place. The memory remains unchanged. In our new home, we will miss that last city, and we will even idealize it. The effects of the illness are produced only when you come back. It is in that moment when you realize that the ideal city you had in your mind has evolved without you.

The longer you stay and the further you go, the bigger the shock will be.

And then, you get into a routine where nothing feels like home. You want to live in a collage city made out of different places, memories and people. A mixture of styles, buildings and tastes. A city that includes all the things you have ever loved. But this city does not exist.

I would love to walk along the streets of a city where everybody can cycle as they do in Copenhagen. Besides, I would like to keep the job where colleagues are like family. Where you can chat and make new friends in the blink of an eye, as it happens in San Francisco. I need to live in a place where meeting friends or family doesn’t involve Skype’s help. I’d like to see a town that can offer food as tasty as the real Turkish meals. I’d love to live across the hall from the kindest American family in order to pay a visit from time to time and see the little girls grow. I want to feel as multicultural as in London, where teaching kids of a different color is not called integration but just education (for all, for any). I want to experience Hawaiian happiness and go snorkeling on a daily basis. A place where the sun is shining without begging.

I wonder if I will feel “at home” some day (should I say, somewhere), and if I once will find out what I really need to get this comfort. It´s not a sign of nonconformity, but the urge of putting together all the pieces of a puzzle that we have created on the way. It´s the sadness of knowing that, regardless where we are, this puzzle will always be incomplete.

Those of you who also have a little nomad in your heart, can probably understand that, at the end, there are just a few things or a few people who make you feel “home”. And only a few persons will be lucky enough to travel along with these people who make them feel home anywhere they go.

What I constantly contend with now is a continual pull to go back; a pull to go back anywhere as long as it isn’t here. Yet when I am back there, I feel the pull to return here, the place I call home. Corey Heller.

Sources: El síndrome del viajero eternoReturning home after living abroad, Reverse culture shock

Images: travelr

  • Javier S.

    Really great article!! I strongly identifie myself!!

  • anna

    when it happens as a child you become a third culture kid (there’s even a book about it) – this is the adult version

  • Batteredsurfer

    Spot on. Didn’t realize so many people felt the same way.

  • http://twitter.com/meryenda10 Maria Diez

    thanks sister for putting our thoughts into words. I’ll be waiting for you in Hawaii :)

    • Larita1986

      You know i wish i could come!!! 

  • Peta

    I so agree – good article.  This is especially in my case where I cannot return to the country I was born and had my childhood in – Rhodesia.  It is no more!

    • Laropio

      happy to see some people feel my words!   :)

  • Ioannamas

    perfect!!! :)

  • Rahul

    Nowhere really feels like home now; or maybe home itself is now spread across different countries…. I am still trying to work that out for myself! 

    Thank you for nicely putting into words something that I have been struggling with ever since moving back “home” to India after living away in different places for a few years. 

    • Laropio

      I am so happy you felt identified with these words. For sure we are not the only ones who feel this way, but knowing that many others feel the same helps to release the “pain”. Thanks for your comment! :)

  • Peter Maahn Sterkenburg

    Lovely article… and the feeling I have every time I return from somewhere :) mil gracias, Lara!!

    • Lara

      thanks for your comment and support! lovely to see some people with the same hearts :)

  • MarekCPH

    Well, I’ve been living a pretty nomadic life in the past 5 years, and I guess it doesn’t make sense to look for a perfect city, they don’t exist. One has to truly accept, that most of us can’t have everything, whether we like to travel, or we are living in a single place :) It’s important to find your own priorities, and learn to give up things without a heartache. Cheers from Copenhagen.

    • Lara

       Nice to find an optimistic point of view. :)   I guess you are totally right, we must leave the pain behind and look at our multi-experience as something really lovely!

  • G4

    Ah ! the travel bug ! but the up side of this all is,  we may feel at home in many places. we can take our little roots and bring them with us  and plant them in a vase, in our new, future home, to soak up the nutrients of new soils, new cultures, and carry them on

    • Laropio

      wise words!!!

  • Nik

    you may be interested in the findings of this article, even if you are not a TCK.


  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000211912502 Jason Koonce

    I’ve lived in the cold forestry regions where the neighbors speak French, the desert southwest where the neighbors speak Spanish, I’ve vacationed in the old country and where Buddha and Confucious share omnipotence. I haven’t been everywhere, but I’ve had about 10 different ‘homes’ in several cities over the last 10 years…restless I am indeed. The cure? Children and freelancing…not simple by any means and only by the will of the Almighty, but kids cure it ; ) 

  • Den_peeters

    I think dogma is the right english word for the problem we face… you either stay home and you mis a lot of nice experiences our you go abroad and you miss home when you are away and when you go back you mis all the people you have met … nice article larita 😉

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1225392622 Rita IRita Booker-Solymosi

    For me, all that you describe has been the pain of the past 33 years. Now that phase is OVER!! I’ve discovered a new paradigm for myself, and like to call it “professional immigrant” everywhere I go ;o))))

    There are places on this planet with a magic energy to them, that I felt so attracted to…but on second sight, it turns out, it was my perception, my memory, that simply compared something new with something old…and there’s the perfect illusion!

    Then, there are people I could connect with much easier and deeper than with others, and I thought it had something to do with family, or culture, or some other reason….but it’s again, only a certain type of energy that magically appears, depending on what needs there are in my perception…and create the illusion of home.

    So, finally, to protect myself against all these illusions, that I can simply not depend on, I began to trust my emotional radar more than anything else. And I didn’t do it lightly, as you can imagine, after 33 years of very careful analysis, consideration, learning, failing, suffering and hurting like hell….I decided that it was time to heal, to rest, time for inner peace.

    Time to accept everything inside me as my home. Good and bad, pretty or ugly, gorgeous or repulsive: it all shows up in my environment, eventually. So I might as well accept things as they are, and move on to do the really important things in life. Independently, trustfully, creatively and with a lot, a lot, a lot of humor and self irony. But I will certainly never indulge in any more useless projections of why this place lacks XYZ, and this person is ABC, and the weather is blue-black-or-purple….Clarity, courage and a huge awareness of who I am, of passing times and phases, and that wherever I go, I will only see and feel, what my body allows me to. Health, mindfullness and consistency at what I do are my new best friends….

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and offering this wonderful opportunity to articulate and share with you :-)

  • alicia J.

    Wordless. Brilliant description… we try to find a home, but the place we are looking for doesn´t exist. I thing we have to find “our home” inside of our hearts… enjoy every place and go on… 
    thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  • Cervantex

    Great Post. I feel a little bit like that :)

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  • Set Sail

    Strange, I read the article and realize I feel the exact opposite:
    1. I can go back to any of my previous place sand feel at home immediately, like plug and play
    2. I actually like the diversity of places such as Glasgow, Porth Elizabeth, Barcelona, Belo Horizonte, Boston…and would want or even imagine a mix. Only in China I struggled to make it home, and wouldn’t go back…probably languange and culture different too stark for me.

    But in the end I agree: I was like to marry young with a girl that shared my wonderer attitude. We were lucky to have 3 kids that have followed us just good…who knows..maybe in the old ages we’ll do like turtles and whales and go back to our native countries.

    it’s going to be fun :))) Thanks for the article

  • http://twitter.com/MouSzyslak Iñigo Morales

    I endorse every single word of this article.

  • Tomas Sanz M


    not to sink into the boredom of not realising that there’re fucking amazing
    things to discover in the life.  Trying
    neither  to get blind nor thinking of
    that life is reduced to tiring routine. I just wanna travel around and make my
    life a challenge. Loved your article Lara

  • http://twitter.com/madelinefritz Maddie Fritz

    This is great Lara!  You’ve hit the nail on the head about living in a collage city…if only we could be in multiple places at once. :) 

  • Caraccio Octavio

    Very nice to read your words Lara!!! I feel that was the bit of information I was lacking. I feel like that after 10 years doing it, and the remedy is to keep doing it. 

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Author Spotlight

Lara Hernández Anton


Teacher at NSSC Bilingual School. Madrid. Spain. June2015 - Up to now

-Teacher at Trinity College SSRR. Madrid. Spain. Sept 2013 - June 2015

-Teacher at several institutions: Dundee School (Spain), Stepping Stones International School and Copenhagen International School (Denmark), Adams School (EEUU), Black Friars School (London), İzzet Baysal İlköğretim Okulu (Turkey) and Christianshavn Folkeskole (Copenhagen). 2008-2011

-Degree in Elementary Education teacher and English teaching as a second language.

-Studied at UCM (Universidad Complutense de Madrid), KDAS Copenhagen University and King´s College of London. Read Full

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