Leaving Pieces Of Yourself Behind When Traveling
Home will be where the heart is
Never were words so true
My heart is far, far away
Home is too
These are the song lyrics from a musical number in Beauty and the Beast, and despite travel being a different scenario to what Belle is singing about, I felt it was still close to the topic at hand.
Undoubtedly, living abroad is exciting, even though you are studying and putting time and effort into your future. The months spent living in a tiny room filled with books, notes and stacked shoes will be your safe haven. Then, once the time comes to leave this space you made your own, it might feel like you are leaving a piece of yourself behind.
Most people move back home for a while before continuing on their personal journey. You look forward to seeing your family, friends, significant other and may be even your beloved pet. I know I was, but quite honestly, after a while, you realize that it is not that easy to adapt to your old ways before leaving your first home to move abroad.
Personally, I was heartbroken when I left Groningen, Netherlands. This small, student city left a mark in my heart. My little room, which I decorated to my likings, eventually became my home for the six months I was there. Sometimes I just wish I could turn the clocks back so I can head back home — my home away from home.
I remember, when I came back to my parents’ house, everything felt the same but something was different. I was different. I was not the same girl I was before I left the country. I was exposed to a different way of life and I was not sheltered by my parents anymore.
Living on my own, I became more independent. I learned how to cook, clean and provide for myself. I found myself stumbling and finding it hard to re-wire my brain back to speak in my first language. This was because I was constantly exposed to my second language being English, even though I consider it my native tongue.
The hardest part of it all was trying to adapt to the ways that my parents knew me of doing. One example was that they were not used to me staying out late, so it was challenge to time myself and keep them updated on my whereabouts.
I found myself feeling out of touch with my friends from home, even though we were in constant contact. They had changed their ways in the slightest manner. Had I been home, I would not have realised, but since I was away, I saw this change come to life in full form.
Soon enough, I started realising that any time I heard someone saying they were going to Groningen, I found myself wanting to plan their vacation for them and explaining the little places I loved to go to and about the time I found beautiful horses in nearby fields. I quickly realized that within their timeframe, I was advising the person to visit far too many places.
I also found myself becoming incredibly jealous and wanting to buy the next flight to my ‘home,’ too. I often worried that I brought up my experience abroad way too much with my friends and feared that I annoyed them, so I found myself talking less about the wonderful memories I cherished because not everyone seemed interested and it might have also been too hard for them to relate.
During those six months abroad, I felt like I lived in a suitcase because I traveled a lot around Europe. I realised the hardships of my real home being an island, because flights are not always as cheap as a bus ride to another country in Europe.
This also made me realise that I did not have enough wall space in my real home to fit all my photos and collectibles from the countries I visited and that I had to respect the painted walls at my mother’s house. Quick tip do not put tape on walls…I learned that the hard way.
Now, a year later, I am still not sure where “home” is anymore, because even though my little island, Malta, is where I am originally from, I am not sure if I fit in this puzzle piece anymore. I might have left one piece behind in The Netherlands, a foreign country that is not so foreign to me anymore.
One thing I find weird but am extremely grateful for, is the countless times I listened to certain songs, which I listened to there and even if only for a few minutes, I felt like I was back there. Despite all this, I still find myself having to settle down and start saving up for my next big adventure. In the meantime, even though my heart is far away, I can learn to love my present home once again and know that I will be leaving a piece of my puzzle here behind once I leave this home again.