Monday, February 18

what happens when you live abroad

the other day i came across this article by chelsea fagan. it immediately hit home ... so i read it again.

it is about the experience of living abroad. about the fears of leaving your home country for another and then making a life for yourself in that new country. and then about the fears of going back to your home but feeling like it is not quite your home anymore. you start feeling like you are missing so many things and that you are split between two lives. some of the words that resonated the most with me were these:

...There is a palpable fear to living in a new country, and though it is more acute in the first months, even year, of your stay, it never completely evaporates as time goes on. It simply changes. The anxiousness that was once concentrated on how you’re going to make new friends, adjust, and master the nuances of the language has become the repeated question “What am I missing?” As you settle into your new life and country, as time passes and becomes less a question of how long you’ve been here and more one of how long you’ve been gone, you realize that life back home has gone on without you. People have grown up, they’ve moved, they’ve married, they’ve become completely different people — and so have you.

...So you look at your life, and the two countries that hold it, and realize that you are now two distinct people. As much as your countries represent and fulfill different parts of you and what you enjoy about life, as much as you have formed unbreakable bonds with people you love in both places, as much as you feel truly at home in either one, so you are divided in two. For the rest of your life, or at least it feels this way, you will spend your time in one naggingly longing for the other, and waiting until you can get back for at least a few weeks and dive back into the person you were back there. It takes so much to carve out a new life for yourself somewhere new, and it can’t die simply because you’ve moved over a few time zones. The people that took you into their country and became your new family, they aren’t going to mean any less to you when you’re far away. 

 i dont think it is much of a secret that i really miss home a lot when i am here. i am constantly thinking about the things that i am missing at home between friends and my family. but at the same time, the thought of going home to be closer to them makes me a little nervous when i know that paris would not be able to come with me, at least not right away. the idea that costa rica is now another home to me is very apparent and looking toward the end of the year when i am thinking of going back home to study again raises my anxiety level a notch or two.

it is not definite yet that i will be leaving costa rica at the end of the year, and even if it turns out to be definite, it is still many months away. there are many conversations to be had and decisions to be made. i just couldn't help but feel a connection to this article when i read it. and i think anyone else currently living abroad or not should also give it a read. it is a very accurate portrayal of an expat experience.


Heather Marie said...

you are so brave for making the step to live in another country for an entire year. It is such a growing experience. Keep up the positive attitude, you are living one AMAZING adventure!

Lauren said...

i'm currently applying to study abroad in the fall. wow, loved that article. thanks for sharing! new follower here!

Treasure Tromp said...

ah, THANK YOU for this. As I get ready for my move abroad this was important for me to see. xoxo

The Adventurer said...

You are going to figure it out - I just know it! Good luck, B, you're the best!