On living abroad

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I don’t suffer much from that affliction called “homesickness,” at least not here in York. Not even during the winter when the sun didn’t come up until 8am and it was pitch black by 4pm. It was hard for me to adapt to living in Boston. That was the first time I was away from home, from family and friends. It was the first time I was somewhere cold for a prolonged period of time. I became addicted to coffee and Dunkin Donuts because my body, so used to warm temperatures that cold ones usually meant sleep in air-conditioned rooms, couldn’t understand that cold no longer equalled sleep.

Boston was hard but not as hard as Bogotá. There I was not only alien but alienated. It was hard to get in touch with my family. I didn’t know other people who were immigrants. But I lived in my own apartment, close to the clouds, without the turmoil that is living with roommates. I wrote and wrote and understood that I wanted to write for a living and no longer teach. I got sick, really sick but the little family I had created in Bogotá, a group of wonderful, loving people who I still keep in touch with took care of my as if I was one of their own. In the end, it was hard to leave but I knew that was the right choice.

So, when the time came to move to England, I was somewhat prepared. I knew what living abroad was like and I knew I may get homesick. So I brought things that made me feel at home: pictures of my family and friends, a blanket a friend gave me in Colombia, a book of poetry by Neruda about the sea and my journals. Yet ever since I got here, I’ve felt at home and at peace and that is priceless.

Image © Iva Yates

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