When I was a teenager my parents sent me to summer camps and language exchanges several times to put my English to practice. I never went with close friends and that was really important for me, I think it made me lose the fear of being at unknown places with unknown people.
A need to get to know unknown cities just kept growing. This made me do two internships abroad, Poznań and Amsterdam. These experiences were so fulfilling that I ended up choosing to do my PhD abroad, in this case Portugal.
This has been my longest experience abroad, 5 years so far, and with that some previously inexperienced feelings have come. After this time abroad it became confusing to use the word “home”. I consider Lisbon my home and feel fully integrated in the Portuguese society, however, there are always specific puns, childhood memories or a certain language barrier that will remind me that I’m a foreigner. Just like there are certain things that define me that I won’t be able to share with people since our backgrounds are different. Back in Barcelona, where I grew up, I feel like I don’t belong there the same way I used to. And this is because of the same reasons, having been growing for 5 years abroad has shaped me in a different way as my old friends that have stayed back there, creating a certain barrier between us.
On the following months I have to choose the next step of my career and that opens up the possibility of staying here, going back to Barcelona or going somewhere else. This is the time where I’m having most trouble dealing with the idea of belonging to a place. These thoughts have been taking so much space in my mind that I feel I’ve been thinking less about other equally important things.
Although living abroad has been an amazing experience that I’ve never regretted, sometimes it feels life would be much easier if I still lived in Barcelona. I don’t know if As long as I live abroad, I will probably carry these feelings with me my whole life. Most probably, if I go back to Barcelona, I’ll wonder how my life would’ve been if I kept living somewhere else. In the meantime, I’ll try to get the maximum out of this.