Existential migration

July 23, 2010 at 4:07 am 4 comments

I came upon an interesting concept last night called “existential migration,” conceived by psychologist Greg Madison.

Unlike economic migration, simple wanderlust, exile, or variations of forced migration, ‘existential migration’ is conceived as a chosen attempt to express something fundamental about existence by leaving one’s homeland and becoming a foreigner.

Some interesting tidbits:

  • ‘Existential migration’ is conceived as a chosen attempt to express or address fundamental aspects of existence by leaving one’s homeland and becoming a foreigner.
  • These ‘existential migrants’ discover more about themselves and feel more alive when confronting unfamiliar cultures. These individuals move cross-culturally, sometimes repeatedly, in search of self-understanding and adventure.
  • The importance of trying to fulfil individual potentials, the importance of freedom and independence, openness to experiences of the mystery of life, and the valuing of difference and foreignness as a stimulus to personal awareness and broadening perspectives are consistent themes amongst ‘existential migrants.’
  • Among this population there is a marked preference for the strange and foreign over the familiar or conventional.
  • Most ‘existential migrants’ leave their home cultures because they never felt ‘at home’ in the first place. For some, the choice to leave can eventually result in not being at home anywhere in the world, leaving these individuals to live within a sort of ‘homelessness’ that includes a complex mix of inconsolable loss as well as perpetual adventure and self-discovery.
  • The ‘feeling of home’ arises from specific interactions with our surroundings that could potentially occur anywhere, at any time. This is in contrast to the usual definition of home as geographical place.

Is this me?


Entry filed under: travel. Tags: , .

Kiva visit to Fuzuli Life in Baku

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. mehmet  |  July 26, 2010 at 8:00 am

    Hi Lena,
    I was looking CS events in Baku since I will be coming to Baku this Sept. as a teacher. Then, I found myself in this website and really like it.

    Especially all the bullet points above, put my feeling and thoughts into words that I have never been able to do. I had difficulty to explain to miss my homeland (Istanbul) and at the same time do not come back to live in Istanbul. Instead I chose to move from one country to another. My third stop will be Azerbaijan after England and Germany.

    I hope everthing will work out well in Baku.

    Thx for the enlightment on existential migration Lena….

    • 2. Lena Shuster  |  July 29, 2010 at 5:10 am

      Hi Mehmet,

      There are some good people on CS living in Baku but not many CS events. Where and what will you be teaching?

  • 3. gourmet coffee gift  |  August 24, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    Excellent blog! I genuinely love how it’ s easy on my eyes and also the details are well written. I am wondering how I could be notified whenever a new post has been made. I have subscribed to your rss feed which should do the trick! Have a nice day!

  • 4. Bryan Hazelwonder  |  December 31, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    This is actually what I am doing right now. I’ve been journaling the events, but just started actually writing on my blog. Existential Migration is what I want the main theme of the blog to be. I’m from Oregon and I am currently in Chicago, Illinois. Having a blast. People are good, for the most part. I’m hitchhiking, so it’s only cops that are a threat. How Ironic.


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