Living Abroad

When I was little I was always fascinated by the idea of going somewhere far. I liked the idea of exploring, being in unusual situations, knowing people so different than you, trying new food, new smells, new faces. I really wanted to live somewhere unfamiliar, because the idea of exploring and feeling that fear to the unknown gave me a sense of control. I know it sounds contradictory in the sense that you have no clue about the place, but the fact that I could find a path in an uncertain place and figure things out gave me a sense of security and power. And it was until I was 27 that my dream came true. I had the opportunity to go far away from home into a new adventure…

It’s been almost a year since I left my home, Guatemala, on December 25 last year and I don’t regret anything about it. I was scared when I just arrived in Boston. I arrived in the middle of a winter storm, something I was unfamiliar with. I didn’t even have winter clothes. I had no friends,  had no place to live (I was just living in the hotel), didn’t know anywhere around. It was just me and the snow, and I was self-doubting about staying. I thought: “Maybe this is not a good idea”, “Maybe I should go back home”. I doubt myself so many times that I even called my mom, and she told me with dry words: “Why are you being so coward?” And those words change my whole perception. I thought, this pain, this experience is part of the adventure. So I decided to give a chance to Boston and stayed and many things have changed since my adventure started.

There are two ways of leaving home: 1) carrying the baggage from the past to the new place or 2) leaving it behind. I decided to take the second way. I decided to really immerse in my whole new home, new city, new friends, new environment. I decided to disconnect from everything I was leaving behind. Only by letting things go I could make space to let the new things in.

What happened after a year? I change my whole perception of my surroundings and of myself. I became more grateful for the things I had back home and I also realized the things I actually hated about it. My “type” of friends and acquaintances changed. Many people forgot about me, and many I let go. Others, I realized how much I valued their friendship and company and I got closer to them.

Another change that occurred to me is that I don’t have the same interests than before. Some things stayed with me, but I also discovered new things about myself.  It is impressive how physical distance makes you see things from your past more clearly. And how being distant also helps you be with yourself to really work on your personal issues, the things only you can work on.

The 3 most important things I have learned so far:

  1. There is no place in the world that will make you happy, you will carry your attitude wherever you go. Be happy and you will be happy anywhere.
  2. Your life depends solely on you. Don’t blame people, but take responsibility for yourself and you will be free.
  3. Don’t try to make things certain, learn to live in uncertainty.  Make plans and try to follow them through but don’t get obsessed with trying to control your life. Let it unfold the way it feels lighter.

Where is home? “Home is where the heart is”,  the soul. Home is me, home is you. We are home whenever you are at peace with yourself.  Because I learned that home is not a place, is a state of mind.


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