It is time to tell our New Year’s resolution. We have put our house in Solymar Hungary, just outside the capital city of Budapest, on the market! Hopefully, this will be our last international move! We are moving ‘home’ to Canada.
There is the link to our listing over here =====>>>>>>
And to our apartments and business listing over here too ====>>>>
My favourite things about this home is that it was built to last the test of time. It has some beautiful detail: solid double thick walls, quality materials, custom finishings, and the best appliances we could find. If you take a look, you can see our West Coast of Canada style and taste throughout. We brought the outside in with lots of natural wood, granite and neutral colours you can only find in nature. It is tastefully done, and the house itself is a retreat from everyday stresses. It has high ceilings, lots of sunlight, and it is nestled on the hillside leading towards the mountains and the endless trails. It’s the ideal spot near enough to the busy city for work yet far enough away to live your life tucked away. Added bonus, our neighbours are the absolute best people and they make the neighbourhood perfect. Because we are leaving the country, whoever buys it can negotiate all sorts of furniture, appliances, trampoline, cars, tools, bikes, motorbikes… pretty much anything we are not taking which is everything aside from Christmas decorations, two paintings, a few memorabilia, and the same two suitcases we arrived with full of our clothes and the cat! EVERYTHING else must go!
What does home even mean to expats?
At this point in our adventure even the idea of ‘home’ being Vancouver, or more specifically the White Rock area, is far fetched. I felt just as at home in the sunshine in Southern France 20 minutes from swimming in the Mediterranean Sea among good friends, drinking fine wine and eating cheese as I do here in Budapest eating flavourful goulash soup cooked on an open fire in the yard, drinking strong plum palinka with the neighbours and dipping into the Balaton Lake on hot summer days. Our 10 year stint away from Canada has been nothing short of prolific, a rebirth if you will and a real eye opener; full of experiences that have changed me to the core of my very being. It has been as many miles deep as miles long. Not only has our old neighbourhood back ‘home’ grown but so have we.
As I wandered through these cultures, learning and immersing myself in them, a little piece of them become a part of me. It interact with what and who I was before and creates a new version of myself. This new version came with me to Hungary and mixed with the culture and traditions here. And eventually when I make the full circle home, I will bring those cultures and traditions that I have adapted as my own and share them with those I meet. It is through these diverse experiences that I have grown.
You get a strange feeling when you are about to leave a place, like you will not miss the people you love, but you miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you will never be this way again.
Sure, it could have been easier to stay put, perhaps we would be more financially secure, however, one thing I have learned is that money truly is not everything.
I have been rich and poor and everything in between, yet it has never changed who I am or, more importantly, how I treat people around me.
If this type of a ‘walkabout’ were a rite of passage and mandatory for everyone, I am certain we would solve world peace, because you cannot hurt those you understand and find common ground with. I know far too many people that haven’t had the opportunity to go too far away from home. Sometimes they are wrapped up in their little bubble of existence where trivial things seem super important; spinning their wheels in one spot. By moving outside their comfort zone, even for a litte walkabout, means to walk in the shoes of our fellow man. Quickly people realize how similar we all are. Many cultures encourage a year abroad, or a gap year. By taking the time to travel before university might help us understand how ‘others’ live, and coming back to where we start gives a better perception of what being human is. More sympathetic. More appreciative. More loving. With some luck, perhaps we could even see the greater picture and how we are all connected to a greater existence on Earth. Where we are not only individuals but part of a collective where our actions and reactions, cause and effect are very real. And maybe still, with my naive mind, we would be able to see what we need to do together as the human race to save our planet. I know, it seems crazy, yet I can almost see it happening.
To begin is the most important part of any quest and by far the most courageous.
I have learned a lot of lessons on this journey and I feel another book coming on. ‘The GAP Decade’ will talk about what we thought we knew for sure when we left Canada, what are plans were, and how believing that each country would be our forever home allowed us to assimilate and accustom ourselves to those cultures. If we were just visiting, and had a safety net in Canada in place, the experiences we had as expats would have been very different. For us, it was a complete immersion, while for others ‘just visiting’ (like the monopoly game) works perfectly!
Come, come, come, without a monster or two, it is not a quest, merely a gaggle of friends wandering about.
A.A. MilneWise words
Life has a funny way of bringing you right round to the start, like my favourite book ‘The Alchemist’. The moment you realize that the treasure was right in front of you all along, and that you just needed the tools to find it and appreciate it. Our journey, more like a 10 year expedition, has brought us so much personal development and mental growth in so many different directions and experiences that are so unique, that ‘we’ really are not returning. (Not to mention every 7 years every cell in your body regenerates.) Everything has changed us so profoundly, that those late thirties adventurers full of piss and vinegar, running on sheer determination and grit are replaced with somewhat wiser, more secure, cautiously careful if not slower versions of ourselves. And you know what, I am so very happy to have had the opportunity and courage to go on our walkabout.
After such a meandering path, going right back to the exact starting place seems unwise. Back to the mach speed pace and the never-ending treadmill of work. On the other hand the granola lifestyle, wooly toques, the Tim Hortons donut holes, the walking and book clubs, yoga retreats, Whistler spa/ski weekends, and lastly the all inclusive 1-2 week vacations seems like a nice contrast to the last 10 years. Especially today, I could really use a spa weekend. Yet I refuse to adapt to a set, cookie cutter life full of expectations, keeping up with the Jones’. I will try to practice what I have learned in Europe, especially about wholesome foods, rest, play and work.
Carve out a simple, yet diverse and clean life without defined borders. We can make up the definition of our life as we go along.
We hope to find a smaller version of our past life, a better balance between self improvement and survival, happiness and obligation. Perhaps a town on the West Coast where I can smell the sea and feel the wind in my hair; those elements I miss living in a landlocked country. I crave giant trees, open spaces and the smell of damp soil under foot. In spring the rotting forest floor, and the rain puddles in the street. A small circle of friends, access to family and a quieter life, in a place where nature and civilization live in harmony. I also wish to meet like minded, laid back people who are also enjoying the ride and adventure of life. I want to make a difference in some small way as we carve out this existence and hope to give back to my community in some way.
I will need some time to reflect back on the experiences, and make sense of it all, in a place that is calm and peaceful. Then, I will make a plan as to what comes next. Maybe more learning, volunteering, or teaching.
Perhaps because of the pandemic Hungary did not offer us equilibrium. The people are remarkably similar to what we left in the beginning of our adventure. It didn’t start off that way when we landed in Europe in 2011, but more and more people are making work their whole existence. It is nobody’s fault, it is the iconic swing of the pendulum. People are being influenced by what they see on TV and social media, and life is changing to look much like Western countries. France does a better job of working just enough to live, and live very well they do. I am not sure if things will remain this way for France much longer, but I just know it feels like it is time to go back to Canada. After all I am Canadian. Those ethics instilled in me from birth about equality and freedom, in a country with strong laws in place to give opportunities to all; it is who and what I am deep down inside of me. There are some things I would fight for, but alas in Canada those before me already have. I can now appreciate it far more after my walkabout.
It is not only the place you will miss as an expat, but who you were there.
How can we judge a country? By how they treat the poorest and most helpless among them. Canada does a very good job at protecting her people but I will miss our other lives nevertheless. Someone once said, the more languages you know the more people you are. I feel as though I am three very distinct people that have separate identities in each country I have lived. From my immediate ecosystem where I happened to land, I was influenced by all the other systems in place up towards the government that rules. You couldn’t be the same person when you arrive even if you try. Each place affects you through the interactions of life that have been there for hundreds of years.
Twenty years from now you will not be disappointed in the things you did, but the things you didn’t do!
If you learn one thing from me, it is this. If you live your best life, create and shape it so that when you wake up each morning that you cannot wait to get to it, then you are on the right track. Pursuit happiness, and everything will eventually fall into place. I truly believe this with all my heart.
Still pursuing happiness.