A Riddle from my Past

When I was a lad,
I went to a nation
to learn things that I didn't know.

twas like a vacation,
until it was my time to go.

Now far, far away
perhaps it's ironic
ne'er did I depart that nation.

Til my dying day,
condition is chronic,
not there, but no emigration.


This is actually a true story. Can you tell me the nation where I was that I never left, despite being thousands of miles away now?

UPDATE: There are several situations that could match my reality, so let me be more specific. The trip in question took place in 1991.

UPDATE: @mohirl has the correct answer below, so some details for anybody looking to kill a minute:

I went to Lake Bled in Yugoslavia to attend a math conference, knowing that the Slovenes planned to declare independence while I was there. It was a great time, until...independence was announced on June 25, 1991 (Croatia declared at the same time), but the morning of June 26 was when conflict started. Compared to what later happened in Croatia and Bosnia, it was nothing...just conscripts running around the train station with Uzis, but to a 20-year-old American kid it was pretty harrowing. There was talk of bombings along the border and potential border closure, and I'm pretty sure I was on the last train that got out to Austria for several days. So even though I'm in the United States now, I technically never left Yugoslavia...Yugoslavia left me. And since Yugoslavia is no longer there, I cannot go back and leave it...I am perpetually in a state where I have never left Yugoslavia.

• Is there a particular reason for the riddle to be in codeblock? It doesn't seem relevant to the puzzle, so the only result is making the puzzle harder to read.
– Nij
Jul 8 '20 at 7:14

Did you go to

Yugoslavia?

which

dissolved as a single nation in 1992?

and so when you left

you actually departed one the the now independent states, possibly Croatia / Bosnia /Macedonia (since Serbia and Montenegro were still a Yugoslavia until 2003)

That's assuming "the trip took place in 1991" means the trip there. If the return trip took place in 1991, you might have visited

West Germany or East Germany before unification in 1990, and later departed unified Germany

• Correct! I'll add the details as an edit to your answer. Jul 7 '20 at 18:03

I believe the place is (but I could be wrong, this is more abstract) your

imagination!

I went to a nation
to learn things that I didn't know.

The nation is your imagi-nation, where younger kids often go. You can learn many things from daydreaming, although probably not too much that's useful :P

twas like a vacation,
until it was my time to go.

Daydreams can seem like a vacation to the make believe from the real, and you can have much fun daydreaming and making up fun scenarios, but eventually you must come back to reality.

Now far, far away
perhaps it's ironic
ne'er did I depart that nation.

While childhood may be far away in time, you always can visit your imagination. Perhaps its ironic that even though you have left childhood, there's still a kid inside us all.

Til my dying day,
condition is chronic,
not there, but no emigration.

• I actually much prefer your interpretation! :-) But in my case, this was actually a real geographic location... Jul 7 '20 at 15:58
• @JeremyDover oh wow, I was pretty sure on the nation wordplay :P my only other thought is (rot13) fpubby? Jul 7 '20 at 15:59
• Not really, though my trip was kind of related to (rot13) fpubby. Maybe I should add the "geography" tag too? Jul 7 '20 at 16:02
• @JeremyDover if it’s an actual place, then I would! :) Jul 7 '20 at 16:04
• Yep, done. I updated the text a little bit too to make that clearer. I still much prefer your answer to reality, BTW :-) Jul 7 '20 at 16:05

Did you travel to

Georgia(Asia) would would mean you live in the state of Georgia(US).

In 1991

Georgia declared Independence from the Soviet Union

With this

You could have traveled from Georgia the country, back to your home state, never leaving "Georgia"

• Very, very close! Look a bit to the west. Jul 7 '20 at 17:23
• Much Closer, but still not quite there. Jul 7 '20 at 17:29

You joined the Order of Malta, a sovereign state without borders, thus one you cannot leave.

• Alas not, but I appreciate your high opinion of me! Jul 7 '20 at 16:22

Depending on your age, perhaps you went to

I went to a nation
to learn things that I didn't know.

Neither Hawaii nor Alaska became a state until 1959. You could have visited before they counted as US grounds

twas like a vacation,
until it was my time to go.

A family trip?

Now far, far away
perhaps it's ironic
ne'er did I depart that nation.

Both are certainly far away from the continental US, but now, since it became part of the US, you have never left this "nation," even if you have left that state.

Til my dying day,
condition is chronic,
not there, but no emigration.

Hawaii and Alaska seem likely to always be a state, a "chronic" condition. You're not there anymore, but you didn't have to emigrate either.

• This is not correct, but it's the right type of idea! Let me put a timetable on the riddle to help narrow things down. Jul 7 '20 at 16:25
• @JeremyDover does it have anything to do with rot13(qhny-pvgvmrafuvc)?
– user69943
Jul 7 '20 at 16:41
• Good idea, but I am only a US citizen. Jul 7 '20 at 17:07
• They didn't become states until then, but they were US territories for a while before that. Jul 8 '20 at 14:55

Perhaps you went to

Hong Kong, former British Dependent Territory until 1997, and now you live in the United Kingdom

• Right idea, but different location. Thanks! Jul 7 '20 at 18:02