Feeling 'At Home' in Dijon

The concept of 'home', what does it mean when you're living abroad?

I've been in Dijon for a month and a half, which is a relatively short period of time, and even so most of my original expectations when it comes to France have already shifted dramatically. 

I had a really hard time adjusting to the way of life here; the language, the people. I found myself looking around and not knowing one familiar place, not recognizing where I was on the bus line or who I could ask in case I needed help. These are all normal feelings for someone living in a foreign country, but it took me a lot of time to become comfortable with not knowing.

I anticipated adventure and change, but I didn't anticipate confusion, anxiety and the identity crisis one has when you're so far outside your native environment. I had the unrealistic expectation that Dijon would become my home from day one, and though that was true in a location sense, my heart didn't feel it. 

It actually took a weekend trip with friends outside of Dijon to find the catalyst that would make me feel like this is "my place". 

Last weekend, I went to the small commune in the Bourgogne region called Dole, which has a population of around 23,000 people. Dijon isn't a large city in any sense, with only 155,000 residents, but I went from a small city to a sleepy town.

While there, my friends and I visited museums and walked around, admiring the architecture and chatting. I noticeably felt the difference in ambiance between Dijon and Dole. I found myself missing the streets of Dijon, missing the little bus that travels around the city center, missing the warmth of the residents whether we spoke English or French. While waiting for the train back to Dijon, I had a passing thought: "I'm so ready to go home"

I began to realize all the things I enjoy about where I live since now I had something to compare it to. Before, I was comparing everything to my comfort zone in New York, something I saw with rose colored glasses. I'm so grateful I had the experience of travelling a bit outside of Dijon to see something a bit smaller, it really helped me connect and feel happy with what I have!

I still struggle with some things (being misunderstood in French being a big one) but my environment is feeling a lot more familiar as I fall into my routines. I'm excited to feel more and more 'at home' as the time passes.