We, as humans, are excellent at adapting. Some are more willing to do so than others, but in general, many of us are able to get used to changes (for good and for bad) and make the best of them.
The rest of my time in North America was a blur. It rained in Vancouver on my conference-free days and the sun shined during the days I was inside listening to papers and meeting with people. C’est la vie. When people heard I was living in Kazakhstan, their first question was typically something like, “Woah, what’s that like?” or “How do you like it?” When I had to think of an answer, the first thoughts were inherently positive. I don’t mind it here. I assumed, as I think most people did as well, that I’d complain about it or there’d be bad things to say. There’s nothing, or at least, nothing I can’t live with. That’s when I realized, I’ve adapted to my new home.
In many ways, home is where you feel welcomed and loved. In that case, I have many homes. Michigan will always be home because my parents and childhood memories are there. Minnesota will always be home because my house, my close friends, and my husband’s family are there. Funny enough, I’d say Germany (yes, over France), even feels like home because I have so many friends there and even though I don’t speak German, I always feel comfortable and can be myself there. And now, I can add Astana to that list. My husband is here, my cat is here, my computer is here, and the current manifestation of my life is here.
Sometimes it’s a bit shocking when that realization hits. While in Vancouver, a beautiful, vibrant city surrounded by a lake and mountains, full of friendly Canadians speaking English, I realized, “I’m ready to get home,” and imagined Astana. It’s my home now, at least for the next few years, and I’m glad I feel that way. It would be terrible to wake up every day dreading the fact that I live in Kazakhstan. Instead, I wake up and wonder what I will accomplish with my day and if I will experience anything new. I’ve adapted to it, I’m comfortable here, I know a few things about the city and am learning more every day. Sure, sometimes I miss the exciting food-scene in Minneapolis and the ability to talk to everyone I encounter, but we’ve found some great restaurants here and we’re taking Russian lessons.
Would I ever have imagined I’d call Kazakhstan home? No, of course not, but I’ve adapted, I’ve settled in, and I’ve embraced the change and my new home. I’m happy to be here, to get to see my husband every day, to have opportunities available to me that I didn’t have in Minneapolis. Home is the place where you feel happy and loved and free. Astana is offering that to me right now and I heartily accept this gift.