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on moving abroad

by M

This post is long due; even though I don't like to postpone words the past few weeks were hectic af and when I eventually had spare time and headspace to write I didn't even know where to start.


I wish I had captured the last days at home when the memories and feelings were still boiling inside me. It was an interesting experience in so many ways. I spent so long overthinking it, but the truth is nothing could've prepared me. 


No one is ever truly prepared to pack bags at 18 and move miles through land and ocean to a completely different culture, in a completely different country and a completely different language. No one can possibly be prepared to what it feels like to have the world and life as you have always known it be shifting under your feet and sweeping you along with it. That's exactly what it felt like. I have been battling with metaphors for a while now, trying to put into words what this whole situation feels like when you are in it, living it, being it. But when I said goodbye to my grandparents on a casually sunny afternoon, or when I dropped off Q at her place at midnight and we pretended we'd see each other in a couple of days, or when I saw my sister leave on the train, or when I trotted through the woods with Pucci knowing I wouldn't be riding him again, or when I stood on the airport as my brain set off all the survival alarms, or when I hugged Rachel for dear life and cried on her shoulder like we used to, or when I sat on my bed in Lisbon for one last time reading the notes my friends wrote me - that's how it felt like. Like the world is moving around you casually but with reckless abandon, pulling you in a million directions at once when really you are just standing very still and holding on for dear life.


And then you leap.


Parents leave and you cry a little as you put up your photos and notes. But you settle in and get comfortable as violently as you left. The room is your room from the very moment you opened the door and soon enough the barista at the café next door knows your face. In just a couple of days you go out for dinner and drinks with probable future friends. You get comfortable around your roomates because we're all in our pijamas anyway. You catch tubes and trains and buses at 10, at 4 or at 3am although you have no idea where you are. But you also stay in and play music and sing along. You cook dinner too late and doodle on your journal. You watch films and series and youtube videos long after the party downstairs is over. You walk to the supermarket on a chilly morning, you pick up mail, you do your laundry. Nothing can prepare you for the jump, but by the time your feet are steady on the ground again it's like every cell in your body knew all along this would happen--that you would be living in London from September 24th 2017 onwards to unfold an entire brand new chapter of your life.


It's funny how it doesn't feel lonely for a second because no one has anyone to fall back to but each other. We're all on the same boat. If I didn't text Jane on the second day and asked her if she wanted to do something together, she would've probably stayed in her room all day. If Linda hadn't invited me to the Italian aperitivo, I wouldn't have met Michelle. If I hadn't met Michelle, she wouldn't have gone to the Balenciaga exhibition because she didn't have company. If I hadn't picked up Vendy from the station I wouldn't have had someone to talk to between classes yesterday. We're all just trying to figure out this limbo of both adulting and teenaging, between dirty dishes and lectures and bills and parties. 


The weirdest part is probably realising that your old life is still happening elsewhere , only you're not in it. Even though we had so much fun doing touristy things in London in the weekend, it was strange calling mom on Saturday knowing she was probably getting her nails done or grocery shopping. Or calling grandma and imagining her sitting on her couch by the TV while grandpa is on the computer. Seeing my friends in Lisbon having drinks at the park after class. 


But in the end of the day as I turn off the lights and close my eyes, with the restless sounds of the city whispering through my window, I feel at peace. It was so hard for a while, making this decision and sticking to it, but I'm so glad I did. I have learned so much more in this past year than I have in the rest of my life combined. I sat in my first class yesterday morning and I felt so proud. Because for the first time in my life there's no place I'd rather be - I found what I want to be doing with my life and I'm finally doing it, on my own terms.


Sure I have lost some things on the way here. But I found myself and somehow, that was... everything.