When I first travelled by myself overseas I was 13. It felt like I was leaving for an eternity, that there was no return once I stepped on that plane. I was leaving my home in São Paulo, Brazil and enrolling in an English program in the UK, whilst living with a host family. My sister gave me a small book filled with letters from friends, pictures, and drawings, so that I could look at it any time I missed home, or, God forbid, if I felt like I was forgetting the people nearest and dearest to me. Wearing a Brazilian jersey and carrying my stuffed bear in hand (because every girl needs a comforting companion right?) I tried to fend off my parents’ tearful gaze and took the long steps towards immigration. I told myself I wouldn’t look back, but, naturally, I did. I broke out into an explosion of tears.
I was leaving for just under a month.
Since that fateful day, I caught the “travel bug”. I now pride myself on my ability to uproot my life and move on to a new and exciting adventure. I have done an exchange program in Sevilla, backpacked through Europe, moved to Boston for university, and then proceeded to study abroad from my study abroad in Cape Town. However, I am constantly asked if I miss home.
What is that even supposed to mean?
I miss São Paulo, the Brazilian culture and my wonderful friends and family there. I miss the warmth, siestas, and tapas in Sevilla. I miss living out of a backpack and having spontaneity intermingled with routine. I miss the dynamic, bustling worlds all encompassed in Cape Town. All these aspects are home to me. So it is precisely for that reason that, even though there is no way to fully escape encroaching nostalgia, I do not have to be sad that they are not within reach. These experiences have shaped me in the person I have become, and so I will always carry them with me.
Most of us consider BC a “pseudo home”. During the start of my freshman year, it definitely did not feel that way immediately. However, as soon as I started getting more involved, meeting people and establishing a life for myself here, it began to feel natural. Comfortable, even. I felt supported by a new family. With your friends at BC, you are constantly building something. You are building an experience and a life. This includes inside jokes, favorite lunch spots, and your own “things”. And the best of is that you have the freedom to tailor it however you want to. Isn’t that what “home” is all about? Feeling at ease with the place you’re in?
It’s senior year and my time in Boston is almost up (four-year-student-visa-probs). So, where to next? It is hard to tell at this point. All I know is that I’ll try to move forward with the same mentality that I did the day I left with my bear in hand, that of excitement and curiosity. I look forward to discovering where I’ll set anchor in next, because I have learned one of my greatest life lessons through travelling: that establishing roots in multiple places does not mean they will hold you back, but rather, that they give you strength and charge you forward onto your next adventure.