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Lily Wang: “For me, home or the German ‘Heimat’, does not necessarily refer to a particular location”

What are the major challenges you faced when leaving your homes?

Lily Wang: With new environments always come new challenges, as well as new opportunities. More than simply new cultures, languages, customs, traditions, and so on, for me, the biggest challenge has always been to face my new self. It is a self that constantly changes, absorbs new inputs, and hopefully, evolves to become a better self. Of course that is not an easy process because it puts me in a situation where I have to question my already established worldviews and values constantly. After having experienced this self-questioning over and over again, I do believe this presents, indeed, a positive challenge.

What is tough though is when you always have to question your worldviews and values, sometimes very conflicting ideas grow within yourself and it is hard to keep them all under one roof. I especially see that when switching between languages, because you don’t just switch the language you speak. Connected to the language is always a cultural setting to which you readjust.

Another challenge is how to keep in touch with everyone and everything I left behind. You put yourself into a situation, where you constantly adapt and move forward, so how do you deal with going back is another question to which I haven’t found a viable solution yet.

What does home mean to you?

Lily Wang: For me, home or the German “Heimat”, does not necessarily refer to a particular location. It more encompasses experiences, feelings, memories, and people. If I had to choose one place to call home, I would say it’s Montreal. It was there for my formative years, where my cultural identity formed and the place I identify myself the most with. I still have my closest family members and friends there.

However, the feeling of being at home somewhere has a very strong temporal component for me. A place can feel like home at one point in time, because of the people you meet there, the experiences, the emotions you feel there. But going back to that place at a different point in time might not evoke the same associations because the people already left, or you yourself changed.

Article source: https://www.alumniportal-deutschland.org/en/members/alumni-stories/interviews/lily-wang-china-home/