I Shut Up and Went Home After 16 Years

This post was contributed by Diana Modupe.

Growing up, I always struggled with answering the question, “where are you from?” because my answer wasn’t the typical answer you’d expect. Answering this question can be really difficult for third culture kids. Do you say the place where you grew up, the place you were born, or the place your family is from? My family is Nigerian, but I was born in Austria and lived there for 7 years before moving to the States. You can see my dilemma, right?

If you meet me now, you’d have no idea that my first language was a very specific dialect of Austrian German and that I spent 2 long years in ESL classes as a kid (all my English as a Second Language peeps know the struggle). In fact, you might think that I’m just your average ATLien. Since I grew up in Atlanta, saying I’m from Atlanta became my go-to answer to the question because it was just…well…less complicated. Atlanta became a part of me over the years and truly became home.

For years the Schnitzel-eating side of me became a distant memory of the past….until I took a long overdue trip to where it all began. Honestly, I had been pushing this trip back for years. I could barely say a sentence in German at this point and I was so far removed from the culture, so I thought, “what’s the point?” But the SUAGer in me had this nagging curiosity of what it would be like to revisit the place I once called home with a totally new outlook.

I spent a 3-day weekend in Austria and here’s what I discovered:

I am NOT built for cold weather

Seriously. Although Atlanta weather is unpredictable and can get pretty cold in the winter, it only snows once every blue moon. I currently live in the South of France and the weather here is perfect — cool winters, hot summers, and no snow. What more could a girl ask for? Being in snowy, cold Austria confirmed that I don’t want to live where it snows. Snow days are all fun and games until it snows all winter. (See picture of me freezing my butt off below)

2. There’s no place like home

I know this is an obvious cliché and that we’ve all heard this one before, but when I visited my childhood home and family friends, I felt like I was right at home and like I never left. Who cares if I didn’t understand half of what was said to me!

Even though I thought it would be awkward, I was extremely comfortable, and I didn’t feel like an outsider looking in. No matter how long you’ve been away from a place, some things never change. It’s almost like that feeling you get when you finally get to sleep in your bed after a long trip.

3. Language barriers aren’t always barriers

I used to avoid visiting certain countries if I didn’t speak the language, but hand gestures go a long way people! You’d be surprised how much you can communicate with someone who doesn’t speak your language. I think there’s something beautiful about being able to have a full conversation consisting of confused stares and awkward laughs about communication mishaps, yet still being able to get your point across. This trip has definitely made me add more countries to my list. Portugal, here I come!

If you’re avoiding going to your old hometown for whatever reason, I say shut up and go visit! You never know what you’ll discover about yourself in the process.

Until next time,
Diana Modupe

Meet Diana: Diana is a third culture kid who can’t seem to stay in one country for too long. After graduating with her B.A. in English, she knew that the corporate America life wasn’t for her, so she shut up and moved to the South of France to teach English. Diana loves writing and aspires to share her stories and the many stories she’s encountered through her travels by becoming a writer full-time. Keep up with Diana on IG!

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