Exploring the Concept of Home in Medellin

I step out onto the balcony of my apartment that stands guard over the Spanish tile roofed houses of Medellin. My socks soak up the moisture left behind from an afternoon thundershower as my lungs inhale the fresh air and my heart soaks in the sunset’s precious atmosphere. My eyes stretch over the city I will be calling home for the next little while and my mind can’t help but wander to the concept of home itself.

Rocky Mountain House, alberta, canada

The backyard of my Childhood home – click to enlarge

In my life, the term home has often been associated with the feeling of having itchy feet stuck in a cement as I waited for my next escape into the world. Home has meant standing still, not only physically but psychologically. I know what home is supposed to mean. Home is supposed to represent being close to friends and family. Home is supposed to be a place of comfort, pride and security.

I use the term “back home” when I talk about Canada, but the honest truth is that I never really felt at home there. Not that I did feel comfortable, prideful, or secure, but because I always felt that my true path was to lead me somewhere else. My family and best friends all live in Canada, and for that it will always draw me, but it isn’t my home, I know that now, just as I knew it then.

Arequipa, Peru

Arequipa at Night – Click to Enlarge

When I was living in Arequipa, Peru the people would sing of songs of home. When they travel they would sing these songs yearning for their love: their hometown. But for me, home has always felt a little bit like a prison. At home I feel constrained, not necessarily geographically, but constrained in my growth as a person. That being said, finding a home is something I have always aspired to do.

I’d be lying if there haven’t been many times of the past two years of travel that I haven’t dreamt of having a more normal life. I’d only be kidding myself if I said that there weren’t days I woke up wanting a girlfriend, to see my friends regularly, and even things so basic as a gym to go to every day and a local pub to have a drink at after work. In fact, that’s the reason I chose Medellin to slow down in for a little while.  I have friends here, I can explore the idea of a more normal stationary life.

Medellin, Colombia

Sunset view from the deck – click to enlarge

I have been in Medellin, Colombia now for nearly a month and I do feel at peace in the city. You’d be hard pressed to find a people in the world more outgoing, friendly and helpful than those in Medellin. The city, to me, feels the way that home should feel: comfortable and safe. But still something tugs at my heels. I used to feel guilty for traveling so much, and now I feel guilty for having the opportunity to travel and not taking full advantage. I felt, again, like I am at a standpoint.

But as I awoke this morning I stepped over my still unpacked suitcase and wandered out of my room to the balcony. I wrested my elbows down on the metal railing and looked out over the city. I felt a sense of calm and peace at where I was doing.

“Why do I feel the need to define the term home?” I thought to myself, annoyed at the the fact that something so simple has gotten into my head and shaken my confidence.

Medellin, Colombia, view

Another view from the deck – click to enlarge

It was, however, in that moment looking over the lush green hills and orange brick buildings of Medellin that I did define home, or at least what home means to me. Home is the comfort of knowing exactly where you need to be. Home doesn’t have to be a place on a map, a house with a garden, or anything concrete at all. Home is a guiding light that leads you to places you truly desire to be.

I don’t know if Medellin will someday become home. I don’t know if any one place will ever become home. What I do know is that as long as I continue to follow my guiding light, strive to become the person I want to be, and never compromise my desires I will always be home.


Author: Brendan van Son

Author: I am a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. Over my years as a travel photographer, I have visited 6 of the 7 continents and more countries than I have any desire to count. If you want to improve your skills, be sure to check out my travel photography channel on Youtube . Also, check out my profile on . to learn a little bit more about me and my work.

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12 Comments

  1. I really struggle with the “home” concept as well. I was talking to John about this today – the only place I’ve ever lived that I miss and long for is New York City. Perhaps because I have so many friends and family there? Or just because I love the city and have always felt happy when I’m there. The problem is that it doesn’t look like we will be able to move back there any time soon. I constantly search for a place I’d feel happy to settle down in. Have not found it so far…I suspect we will be nomadic expats for years to come.

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  2. There is saying that home is where you hang your hat. I tend to disagree. I believe instead that home is where you heart says it is. That its neither a concept nor place, but rather a feeling that you belong and you are comfortable there. It looks like you already know that, and as long as you believe it, I have no doubt you’ll find home somewhere even during all the years of your travels.

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    • Claire… it’s a secret!!!

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  3. My concept of ‘home’ has changed dramatically back and forth over the years I’ve been traveling (and returning to England). I think I’ve finally settled on home being a place that makes me feel comfortable, that I can totally relax and let my guard down in, be 100% happy and at peace in. It’s great, as it’s a definition which travels (I’ve most recently been ‘at home’ in Perth, Western Australia) but is still a palpable, visceral feeling. I know when a place becomes home, whether I’ve been there ten months or ten days (though it’s usually the longer term places that achieve it). I stayed in some beautiful places, and some places that were technically my home, but never felt right. Then when I least expect it, I’ll get that supremely relaxed feeling whilst hanging around in some house I’m renting, and think “Yeah, this is it. This is home for me… for now!”
    Interesting, thought provoking post man!
    Tony

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  4. The concept of home is a bit elusive for me. Although I’ve been traveling for 7 months, I still consider Ohio my home. At the same time, I have decided to make Buenos Aires my “current home.” And I’m loving it.

    I think we make multiple places our home, but we will always be drawn to the place where our family and friends are.

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  5. I feel this. I also don’t feel at like where I grew up is “home” anymore. I always say that I feel at home everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Maybe for some of restless spirits, home is just where I lay my head, or some intangible concept we won’t experience like everyone else.

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  6. I’m also still trying to figure out where ‘home’ is. As much as I love coming back to Canada after a long trip, Toronto always feels like a jumping point for the next big adventure. I find that there are many places around the world where I feel ‘at home’, which makes it difficult to pick a real home!

    I agree with Travel Chica, the concept really is a bit elusive!

    p.s. Great photos of Medellin!

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  7. Beautifully written! I think many of us as travelers can relate to this feeling.

    I’m also thinking of settling down in Medellin for a few months. I’ll probably be emailing you for some tips soon!

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    • Great community here Matthew, do you know when you’ll be here? I’ll likely be here still

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  8. Heading for Medellin in March to pass 11 weeks which I think is a minimum period to put down some roots, make some good friends and be something less than an expat but more than a tourist. Did the same in Arequipa last year. Thanks for these glimpses, V helpful, Alan

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    • Have fun Alan, there are a lot of really great people in that city… it will always feel like home to me. Enjoy it!

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