That feeling of living abroad

On January 3rd I completed three years living in New York City. I always wanted to live abroad and I remember that I always thought that one year would not be enough. A year would be too little to live abroad. Now I’m living abroad for three years and I still feel that I have so much to do… Life goes too fast, time goes too fast. The year has just begun – but we know that in a blink of an eye Easter will be here and in another blink of an eye half of the year will be gone.

Right now, I’m in Brazil. I came to spend the holidays with my family. It had been a year since I’d come for the last time – and it was the longest period of time that I spent in NYC without visiting Brazil. In these three years living abroad, there have been many trips to my country (I am from Santa Catarina) and just as the smell of home and the food of my mom don’t change, neither changes the anguish that tightens my chest when is time to get back. I already talked to some friends who have lived abroad for a long time to see if there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. “Over time, it gets easier,” we think. But then your friends tell you that no – it does not matter if you live abroad for 5 or 10 years – saying goodbye to your family will never be easy. To help, it seems that the clock decides to work faster in the days before boarding and your heart can’t stand that feeling. Your heart feels so tight that you have to let it go –  you can cry when nobody is seeing you or at the waiting room of the airport.

I know that at this point, at least half a dozen of you are already thinking that “you’re lucky” or “girl, you’re going back to New York” or “be happy because Brazil is bad”. I really feel privileged because of the opportunity I have to live in the United States, in a city as wonderful as New York. This path that I have traveled to here has brought me many good things: a change in the focus of the blog that only gave me good results, a wonderful network, and so many projects that I have developed over the years – not to mention all the experiences I had, places I visited and even the dishes I tasted. Living abroad opens your head for so many things and your worldview expands in an incredible way – I think everyone should have this chance, even for a month in life.

I have said many times that, like everything in life, living abroad also has a bad side. You’ve probably heard a lot of beautiful stories about foreign people living abroad, but you can not ignore everything that is faced to achieve that – and not everyone who lives abroad achieves their goals. The language barrier, prejudice, xenophobia, cultural differences – living abroad is to win small battles every day. From being able to answer the intercom and understand everything the person is saying to communicate with the doctor and explain what you are feeling or find out the equivalent of that product in the grocery store or even help someone who is lost in the subway. All these situations would be very normal if I were in Brazil – but not when you are in a different country. The truth is that as life abroad is very intense it is necessary to remember that life is going on in your home country as well. People die, people marry, people get old, people graduate. And you will miss several of those moments. Of course, you will also create other beautiful memories – you will have celebrations with people who have crossed your path and will also welcome your new friends in your home to celebrate Thanksgiving. You will begin to feel that this is your home now. But there is always a little bit left in your life.

2016 was very cruel to the world. We saw so many bad things that happened, so many episodes of intolerance, so many lives that were gone. That’s why I value these moments in Brazil, close to my family – and the friends I left. It is funny how we think we have everything under control. We planned our week, that trip, we also think about next Christmas, we schedule a lunch for the holiday, we imagine life for the next 10 years. But the truth is we don’t control anything. I think it’s good for the human being to think that we are  in control – after all, you can not live predicting the future either, but – it’s good to keep your feet on the ground. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and think about my parents and it hurts, it hurts to know that we are not close. It hurts to know that there is a distance. Obviously everything is easy because technology, but of course Facebook, Skype, and WhatsApp do not replace hugs. I have a relationship with my parents – especially my mother – that may not be the same as many people have. And then we live these intense days in Brazil and each farewell hurts as that first time that I left.

Does this feeling go away? Come on, of course. But living abroad is living with this duality of feelings forever… It is living intensely in a wonderful city – but always cultivating that feeling of missing those people who are not close. It is enjoying the most of your time in Brazil – and keeping that love for your home that is far away. I try to balance myself like this …

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