Growing up between vineyards and croissants, on top of an invisible border, switching constantly between two languages, the concept of national borders, being proud of a piece of paper or isolation was and will never be something I will be comfortable with.
Ever since I stepped on a plane on the 8th September 2018, I have officially left the county where I grew up. Ever since then, the questions “why have you left the country”, “do you want to move back” haunt me. Also comments like “I couldn’t do that” are high in the game.
I completely get these questions and comments, at this young age it is not the most common thing to quit a country and it does raise curiosity once I mention it to someone else.
A lot of people especially last year told me to use my blog to talk about my experiences abroad. That does sound like a lovely idea, which would most probably be tied to a lot of clicks and a raising reader audience- but I decided not to do so.
Now, a year later, I feel a lot more ready to talk about it. Moving from place to place does change you a lot, inside and outside. The main and probably only reason, why I refused to talk about it online, is still that I don’t want to be put in the specific nationality box where I am originally from. I also did not want to be “the one who moved and talks about it online”. I just did not see it as a key part of my identity.
In the big picture, the action of making the decision to move abroad is only the smallest part of the puzzle. The key parts are adaption and finding your own identity.
Ever since I was fourteen years old, I kept talking about the fact that I wanted to leave the country. I grew up in a very small village, and I kept dreaming myself away in the wide world, where everything seemed more glamorous and better. I felt very judged in my environment, which was mainly not creative, and I could not be myself in the way I liked to. The relation between me and my hometown is as simple as a tragic love story of forced love: we just did not love each other back, we never will, but that is more than fine. I will always appreciate and love the home my parents gave me, but the city and the general environment was just not for me. Being born into an environment is based on pure coincidence, and there is never a guarantee that it will be the place for you.
Looking back, the decision to leave was never made at only one “specific” point. In my case, it was just a very necessary step to take in order to achieve what I wanted. Intentionally, I moved away for university, but after a while living abroad, I felt a heavy disconnection with the place where I am actually from, the place where I grew up. I see that as p part of the main thing that happens to you once you move away- you change.
When I look back, a year ago, I was such a different person. Jesus Christ, I was such a fragile baby. I am very glad of how I have changed over the past 12 months; I feel more like myself than ever before. Change is a good, and most importantly powerful thing. It pushes you, it challenges you, but it never throws you a step back.
I initially never intended on talking about this topic online, as I don’t see my nationality, my habit of moving countries every once in a while, or the place I grew up as an essential part of my personality. To myself I want to be judged by the things I have achieved or the things I went through but please don’t have the courtesy base your judgement on a piece of paper I have done nothing for, apart from being born into.
Looking back, leaving the country where my passport was issued, was the best decision I could have ever made. Moving countries is a fun thing to do, you learn a lot about yourself and about life itself I’d say. You will taste so much food you’ve never tasted before. You will see things you’ve never seen before. You will meet people you would have probably never met under other circumstances.
Yes. It might be true. Maybe you have to travel far in order to know who you are. Or maybe I am just a juvenile dreaming of a borderless world and the vision that traveling could save our curious souls from the evil.
We will never know.
Thank you for taking the time to read this piece.
PHOTOS BY ASHLEY LOUISE SMITH.
THE REST BY MYSELF.