Guest Blog Post by Kalpana Krishna-Kumar
“Your home is you – it’s who you are – where you’re from…”.
Those poignant words from 2014 Coldwell Banker TV ad Home Sweet Home that debuted Oscar night struck a deep chord bringing a flood of forgotten memories from 1999. To an immigrant from India, the ad literally spoke of my journey and perhaps of millions of others who came to this country in search of the American Dream and are now intrinsic to the multi-cultural fabric of United States of America. Relocating was perhaps the biggest life changing event for me and my family, second only to the birth of my children. What I remember most of my first year was the deep sense of home sickness and despair – like I didn’t belong. In one of his books, James Baldwin said, “Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.” So I set out to find that “irrevocable condition”.
The process of turning “walls, doors and windows” to Home Sweet Home wasn’t easy and it took time.
I had to look beyond the memories on my walls, painted hopscotch on my driveway, and endless meals served to my family. I had to reach out beyond my comfort zone and into my neighborhood, community and town to find that sense of belonging. Here are the 3 things that helped me on my journey as I adapted and adopted my new country I call home now:
Learn, learn, learn: Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Fear always springs from ignorance.”
Arm yourself with knowledge and make “Learn, learn, learn” your mantra in your first year of relocation.
Everything you ever want to know – yes, you are right – is on the Internet. But don’t neglect the local library. Even better – talk to long-time residents in your area. Seek them out and don’t be afraid to ask questions. My 85-year old neighbor showed me how to cultivate a garden patch in spite of the rocky geological ground in my area. In recent years, social media has become a great resource to learn about your community. Look up your town’s Facebook page. You will gain great insights into the key figures in town, upcoming events and places of interest.
Reach out: Your neighborhood is your immediate support system (Read Avoid a Stroke – Get Good Neighbors).
Remember, it begins with you – what you put out is what you get back. Here’s a cheat sheet to get started:
- Immediate neighbors: If you haven’t already received a welcome batch of cookies from your neighbors, knock on their door and introduce yourself. I have fond memories of the bag of peppers from my elderly neighbor’s backyard. Even if you are shy, don’t stay away from block parties. Bring a dish from your home country (Hint: anything deep fried is always appreciated). In good weather, the entire neighborhood comes out on the street. Step out and meet your neighbors. You will find some excellent advice about the best place to get fresh vegetables or …read more
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