There is a trending text in social media among the Brazilian audience. The title is ‘the high price you pay to live far from home’, in a free translation. It pretty much explains how hard it is to replace laughs in a bar with friends by a HAHAHAHA on whatsapp; how to cope with seeing your parents getting older via Skype; your friends’ kids growing up via Facebook posts. It is a very touching and realistic piece that reflects this feeling that everyone who is living abroad — or anywhere far from home, even in the same country, I’d say — feels at some point. You can read it here (in Portuguese).
As much as I can relate to this feeling, I wouldn’t say that in my case it is paying a high price for a dream or a choice. I would say that it is how it feels to be born with an unexplained thing inside you that makes you miss something you don’t know.
A couple of weeks after arriving in London for my MA, I’ve realised that this whole experience had made an emptiness inside me. Regardless what will happen in the end of my program, I know that I would miss this time living in London if I move elsewhere. At the same time, I miss home in every single moment I am here. My life, from now on, will always include managing this emptiness that is part of me.
It is something that people whose parents are from different countries have realised from the very beginning. Or people who were raised in a different country than the one they were born in. They feel attached to two different places. They partially belong to the place they were born. They also do not belong anywhere.
Me? I used to say that I created an emptiness when I decided to study abroad.
Little did I know… Only shortly I finally realised, though, that this is not something I started or created when I accepted the KCL offer. It is not something that is seeded when you go on an exchange program, Erasmus, study abroad, anything like that. My emptiness is different than that.
I was the sort of person who always had an internal desire to explore. Boundaries? For what? I have always wanted to feel life differently. First, I started travelling – like crazy. I even looked for a job that would make me travel as much as I can. During any of the trips, I would take one or two days off to explore. I have been several times in the same city, and I have been in different places in each of the trips. It is like having a piece of life in a different place. It has always felt like I was living a piece of a different life, someone else’s life, something that is given to me as a precious and valuable gift. It made me feel alive. It opens my heart and soul in such a way that I can’t even explain.
I am not the sort of person that travels to relax or to empty my mind. I travel to make my mind work even harder. I get inputs from all around. Therefore, living in London for my MA is like having this all the time, learning, specially because London is a great place to meet people from all over the world. Literally. It is not like you have to go to a specific neighbourhood to see a cosmopolitan area, or a foreign community. People from everywhere are everywhere — and it works. It is fascinating. It makes my mind go BOOM.
After almost one year living here, dealing with the anxiety about my holiday trip back home in a couple of weeks, I have finally realised that this emptiness has always been here inside me. I was born with it. I will always have this gap.
This is definitely not a high price I pay for choosing to live abroad, not an emptiness that I have created in me.
It is me.