Living away from home might sound like a nightmare to some, but to others it might mean the complete opposite: freedom.
When I left home (and by home, I mean my country, my friends and my family: what I knew as my whole world) when I was 17, to come study in Surrey Uni, I felt a sense of liberation and the first real breaking-of-ties from my parents.
I did not see it as something negative and I did not even consider the possible consequences. I wanted to live on my own. I felt constrained by working, living and breathing in the same scenery and situations every day and I felt like a ticking bomb. Every second that was passing by felt like another minute wasted from a great escape. Not an escape from the people I loved the most and still love the most in my life, but an escape from the routine.
I guess the routine is what I despise the most in my life, as I find it hard enjoying staying in a place for more than a year. I know it is crazy: And for me it is not just about traveling. It is about living in different places and experiencing different situations, while living in a country as one of its natives. So far I have managed to live in 3 different countries in the past few years of my life (including my home country).
The consequences are still there: It is hard to keep a few friends if any at all. It is hard to have a consistent communication with your own family and it is most importantly hard to have a place to call home.
Everything kind of seems foreign back at home: The coffee shop that you use to go to with your friends, has now changes its menu and stuff. Your favorite star gazing spot in summer has now been obliterated by buildings. The cousin you left as a little child has now grown into a teenager taller than you. And that is only normal because growth is an inevitable particle of life. The problem is where do you fit in this cycle?
I strongly believe that the solution to a problem is always looking at the positive aspects of a situation and letting the positivity absorb you. This is something I have learned the hard way, as I naturally always tend to look at the negative side of things: I don’t want to label myself as a pessimist, but I certainly have some tendencies. And what is the positive of this situation? What positive outcome could possibly come out of the craziness of wanting to move from place to place and not settling down?
- Well for starters, my life feels like a constant travel
Yes, there is so much you can see in a new country, that a whole year can be filled with new adventures. For example, living in Barcelona has been a year long journey into the Catalan tradition (I strongly believe it is different to live with the locals, than being a tourist). From museums, pubs, restaurants and food, cultural activities and people themselves. Also living in a focal point such as Barcelona has made it easier for me to travel to other cities as well: So far, it has been Valencia, but me and my friend have made a list of potential destinations.
- In addition, this whole experience has made me much more confident
Yes, as an underage trying to live in a country with a different mentality, culture and language has taught me a lot (on top of trying to survive like an adult, for the first time: something which I still struggle with). I have learned that people outside of my country think differently. On occasions, I have learned to be politer, and on others I have learned to accept the fact that statements that I used to take as insults, can be jokes. I have learned to speak out for myself, when it comes to being a target for stereotypes. Yes, this has happened quite a few times, and I love proving people wrong on who they like to think I am (or my family) based on my ethnicity. My own stereotypes have also been debunked many times, which is something I am very grateful for. And that leads me to my next point.
- Meeting people from all over the globe and becoming more open minded
This is not an exaggeration. I have met people from countries I would have never even dreamed of travelling to (but you never know). This is something that personally makes me so happy. Meeting all these people and talking about their experiences growing up, has taught me that there are way more things than we have in common than differences. I have been invited to visit friends in a handful of countries around the world, and that makes me really excited for future travels (I have of course returned the invitation). In addition, I have become way more open-minded: Living in a country with almost zero ethnical, religious and cultural diversity (the government has successfully managed to seclude all immigrants and not let them integrate into our society, in addition to a lot of illegal immigration issues), had left me ignorant of a lot of other cultures. I have met people with such unique religions and cultures, discovered the beauty of their values and diversity, that I can not imagine leaving in such as a ‘’monochromatic’’ world as I did before.
- I have become more independent
Only being able to see my parents three times a year (Christmas, Easter and summer), certainly gave me a push into adulthood and responsibilities. I had previously never cooked, went grocery shopping or tried to find a job on my own (I know it sounds terrible). But now I had no choice: And I had to be strong for them and my own self, as leaving home was my own decision. I knew there was no ‘’weekend visits’’ or even monthly ones (my parents cannot afford the tickets at the moment). Being home-sick is not an option you can even consider: especially when you know that you have a 4-year degree ahead of you to complete, just to begin with.
- And finally, seeing the world outside of my hometown.
Can you imagine a life where you have never really experienced any other place apart from your birth town or your own country (Because I strongly believe that to experience a place, you really have to live there). Can you imagine how many experiences you are missing out from? How many people you could have potentially met, how much food you could have tried, how many languages you could have learned?
Honestly the world is out there waiting for you to experience. It will never be too late to make the big step and live in a different country (even though it is indeed easier when you are young). So, what are you waiting for?
Text and picture research by Elpida Komianou.