I grew up in Georgia. I am fiercely proud of my home state-if you ask me, it's the best place ever (yeah, I'm a little biased). I love sweet tea, shrimp and grits, and pecan pie. I say lots of words funny (just ask my favorite West Coaster, Fionn). I listen to country music and will cry shamelessly at the sad songs. I hate wintertime and long for the never ending sunshine and heat of Georgia (even if the summers were hot enough to make the Devil cry). I still say "Yes Ma'am" and "No Sir" even though at this point in my life I'm getting "Ma'am"-ed.
Even though being a Georgia girl is a big part of my identity, I feel like living abroad has really brought it out of me. On days when I'm homesick, I turn on my country music (that Fionn hates hehe) and soak in that familiar accent and all the years of memories those songs bring me. I'll make my mom's cornbread recipe and smile as I think back on years spent greasing the cast iron skillet growing up. I'll talk to a fellow Georgian and hear my accent ring out loud and clear. Or better yet, I'll talk to a German friend and blush when my accent makes me unintelligible to a non-native (or heck, even a native!) speaker.
When I lived in Georgia, I never gave much thought to any of these things. How I talked to people, the music I listened to, the cultural quirks we Georgians have, they never occurred to me. Then, when I moved abroad and found myself thrown in with other nationalities and Americans from other regions (which, let's be honest, can be practically different countries sometimes!) I saw my Georgia uniqueness clear as day. Those things I took for granted actually set me apart.
Being so far from Georgia, a place I grew up in and dearly love, I feel like I cling to those Georgiaisms with all my might. I wrap them around myself like a security blanket. My home. My identity. In a place where I often feel like a foreigner and outsider, I cling to the familiar. Not to say that I'm hostile to my new home (I do love Germany, after all), but sometimes when everything is different and changing, you need that grounding force to remind you who you are and where you come from. For me, that grounding force is Georgia.
In some ways, I'm really thankful that I left Georgia so I could appreciate it more. It has its faults, just like any place, but I love it. That's my deep expat thought for the day ;)
So how about you? Did moving abroad make you love your home state or home country more? How do you stay in touch with that identity? Or were you happy to leave it all behind? I'd love to hear from you :)