I remember when I was about 17, my friend asked me what my plans for life were.Sincerely, I had no clue.
I had some scattered images in my head of how I imagine myself. Like photographs. The only thing in common, I remember, was that all these images were in some far lands, with unusual landscapes and distant cultures. Living abroad was something I use to fantasize a lot as a kid. It was a constant change and an excitement over new things that attracted me.
Not being aware that living abroad doesn’t necessarily involve riding a horse with American Indians, discovering hidden treasures like Indiana Jones or translating for the UN I have (unconsciously) made everything to fulfill this dream of mine: sail away from an overprotected environment widely known as a “family home”. And, just like that, three years after, my life turned upside down: I’ve got exactly what I wanted. A ticket to study abroad.
They say the ignorance is a bliss, and I couldn’t agree more. I had no idea that the years to come would be the happiest and the most difficult. If you have ever left your hometown, childhood friends and the perks of being the youngest of 3, you’d understand me. On one side, I thought: Man, I’m living the time of my life (no matter how corny this sounds it was an absolute truth) but, on the other side, some people I considered important were leaving my life, leaving room for another to come in. And leave again. … I guess it’s just the way it goes, right?
From my 21st till my 25th, I have changed home in 3 different countries. You’d agree I’ve got more that I wished for. For the last 3 years, I’ve been living here, in Athens. Love brought me to Greece. And it was here, in the land of greatest philosophers, I have come to understand something: the mentality of the immigrants and expats. That unusual feeling when you have to be brave (even if you aren’t), to build your life from the scratch, to present yourself constantly, to understand others lack of understanding, to make new friends, fight for the acceptance, learn to be rejected, make compromises, learn to live with less comfort and be more open-minded. All this mixed up with the feeling of extreme homesickness. …
Sounds lovely, right? Well, no. It doesn’t. Sounds like a life and it's good enough for me.
You know, even if I didn’t bet on all of this at my 17, with my romanticized image of living abroad, at the end of the day I am grateful for all the things I’ve learnt so far. They’ve made me toughen up and push my boundaries. I don’t think I’d change a thing.