“Heidi Sand-Hart’s “Home Keeps Moving” authenticates the TCK experience. Her personal stories demonstrate the tangible reality of the TCK theories we have been reading and hearing about for years.” – Tina L Quick, author of The Global Nomad's Guide to University Transition

Friday, 29 July 2011

Norway attacks: 'how we watched and listened as the horror unfolded'

My blog on the Norway attacks was published by The Telegraph yesterday. It is slightly different to the post below.

Check it out: Telegraph article

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

‎"Home" has been Oslo, Norway for the past week...

(now back to London)

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

A nation on its knees...

It is extremely strange to be in one of my "home countries" during a terrorist attack. I was in China during the 7/7 London bombings, in Thailand during the Mumbai attacks and have neven been anywhere near Finland during the recent shootings. 

My father is Norwegian and as a child, I spent many a happy summer in Norway, visiting relatives and enjoying the freedom and safety it brought. My parents would allow us to explore the forests, fields, lakes and islands without a single thought for our safety for this nation is known for its peace and tranquility.

That all changed on the 22nd July 2011. I was in Oslo for the week - visiting friends and family. I received a phone call from a friend at 15:32 on Friday afternoon saying, "Stay calm, but there has been a bomb in Oslo. There is broken glass everywhere and people bleeding on the streets..." I was of course shaken and the first thing I did was call my brother to make sure he was alright. He said he heard the bomb and felt the vibrations in his apartment. I jumped on Twitter and began to panic as the story unfolded in all its entirety and I realised just how big the explosion was. Colossal buildings were shelled, windows for a mile radius had been shattered. 

I was alone at a friend's apartment about 2 km away from the centre of town but heard the police sirens and helicopters stream to the bomb site. I was shaken and didn't like being alone at such a time. I called my husband in London and parents in Finland to let them know I was alright...at that point, they hadn't even heard since the event was so fresh. The police told people to stay away from the centre of Oslo but I wanted to be with my brother, with family.

I headed into town, taking the backstreets as my brother advised me to do, and was vigilant, trusting no one. I made it safely to his place and sat around the kitchen table where we watched and listened as the horror unfolded. The story broke of a shooting at an island an hour away, as we were all coming to terms with the bombing. My brother heard that his friend was out on Utoya, teaching the kids guitar, at the very camp that the shootings were occurring. He tried to phone his friend but was quickly told NOT to phone him since they were hiding from the gunman and the phone ring would lead him straight to them. With shock, we sat around, drinking beers and trying to comprehend what was happening on our doorstep...but the full horror was yet to come as the truth emerged the following morning...

I have never felt particularly connected to Norway as a "home country". It has been the one that I have struggled with the most in my TCK make-up. Partially because it was nothing more than a summer holiday destination to me growing up and also because of the difficulty I faced as a sixteen year old trying to break into a somewhat closed society*. But how could one's heart not break, weep and mourn over the events of the twin terror attack on this peaceful, beautiful nation? As I was glued to the television (along with the other 4 1/2 million people of Norway), watching the prime minister, foreign secretary and King address the nation, I could not believe how well spoken and calm they were. And as the past few days have shown, the dignity, strength and solidarity of the Norwegian people is something incredible and unique - definitely something to take lessons from. At this darkest of hours (the darkest since WW2), Norwegians have shown phenomenal calm, respect and unity in the face of terror and it makes me proud to have Norwegian blood flowing through my veins...

*as described in more detail in "Home Keeps Moving", by Heidi Sand-Hart

Thursday, 14 July 2011

The peculiar world of the "package holiday"...

It was with a mixture of reservation and curiousity that Paul and I booked our very first "package holiday". Seven nights in a 5 star hotel in Tunisia (with half board) sounded just right...especially at that price! After a tough start to the year, it seemed the perfect alternative to our usual, preferred method of independent travel.

So off we headed to the airport with the assurance that just for once, everything would be taken care of for us. The Tunis Air flight was delayed and rather rickety but we arrived in Tunis late in the evening and inhaled the warm air with delight. "This is what its all about" were the first words that left my mouth as we trudged across the airport entrance to our allocated bus. We boarded the bus second to last (due to a delay with our luggage) and it felt like walking a fashion show runway as the other people checked us out. Our tour company "rep" took to the microphone and gave us a very thorough and detailed welcome, along with a mini-cultural lesson on Tunisia.

We reached our "5 star" ( more like 3 1/2) accommodation in Hammamet Yasmine in the dying hours but things seemed to be pumping and alive. Our weary heads met our bumpy pillows at 2am and we remembered to set our alarms not to miss the breakfast buffet...

The following days taught us a lot about ourselves and the kinds of people who go on package holidays. During our first visit to the pool (in which we had to circle the entire circumference in order to find two spare sun loungers*), we were surprised to hear music being blasted at the pool bar all day long (namely Celine Dion in various French renditions); morphing into the worst dance music - twice daily - for the "group aerobics"sessions in the pool.

With a small measure of horror, we discovered that we'd walked into Tunisia's version of Butlin's holiday camps (not that I've ever been to one) - from the swimming pool aerobics to daily scheduled activities for kids and adults alike, culminating in an overtly loud evening entertainment program...which took place just outside our room!

The other thing we quickly realised was that our package holiday was completely and entirely geared around a magic little thing called "All Inclusive". Basically, those who had paid for an "all inclusive" holiday were treated like royalty - could eat and drink to their hearts' content at any number of restaurants and bars scattered across the resort. Anyone else (being us), were made to feel completely and utterly cheap for not splashing out on the all important "all inclusive" bracelets (something we were unaware of until this experience). Our first buffet dinner highlighted our grave mistake when the waiter wouldn't even give us a glass of water to accompany our "paid for" dinner without putting it on our room bill!

As luck would have it, for the following 5 nights we relocated to another section of the restaurant where the waiter was impressed with my limited Arabic and proceeded to serve us unlimited water and wine all week (despite being aware of our non "all inclusive" status)! Life is all about the little things...

We quickly discovered that we felt most comfortable away from the hoards of Brits, Germans, French and Italian pool worshipers and we found some real jewels away from our resort. I was surprised and disgusted to learn that most of the restaurants, bars and supermarkets in Yasmine Hammamet are connected to a resort...it looked like there was no room for independent establishments. Until we found the marina, which had a whole slew of cosy restaurants, cafes, creperies and she-sha places. And even better, we voyaged into Hammamet town where I was transported back to what I love most about North Africa and the Middle East: the medina, lined with intricate detail and architecture...narrow alleyways and cobbled streets....cats lazing about in the shade, catching a few winks...the pure, vibrant site of an old fort set against the dazzling backdrop of the Mediterranean sea...and local Tunisian people.

At the end of the week, we boarded the bus (with the same group of Brits we'd arrived with), and I resented being lumped in and without freedom. As we arrived at the airport terminal...after watching countless olive trees and vineyards pass us by...our guide wouldn't allow us to disembark the bus before she told us which check-in desks to use and talked us through the entire procedure of navigating an airport! To top it all off, we had three seriously suspicious looking Arab (Brit) males on our flight and I was convinced we were heading for the worst. 

As I said to Paul one afternoon whilst watching the pool aerobics session from the safety of our room, "The world is split into two kinds of people. Those who enjoy (package holiday) aerobics and those who don't". We got some sunshine, sea and felt relaxed which is what we wanted but I've learnt that isn't enough. I guess you have to try new things in order to know where you fit and the obvious has been confirmed to me -- that I am, and have always been, an independent traveller who thrives on the unexpected challenges that are thrown my way on the open road. Free to explore and lose myself wherever I am....

*Germans aren't the only ones who do the "towel on sunbed" trick, it seems!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011


Check out the NEW blog page - "HEIDI'S BIO":  

(or click on tab above)

Thursday, 7 July 2011


"Home" is currently Tunisia...