A story from an anonymous graduate student telling us their experience of the first instances arriving in a new country, in a different continent far away from home. In a place where they don’t know anyone or speak the language. An honest insight into the first thoughts of starting something new, an incredible life changing experience.
I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.
I get to my building, fumble with my keys, and stumble into the elevator as tears cloud my vision and my judgment. “Why does this stupid elevator door take so damn long to close?” I don’t want to be stuck in this tiny deathtrap with yet, another, stranger.
They’re everywhere here. I find myself frantically searching for any sign of a familiar face. Any sign of a familiar voice. Any sign of my life before here.
Everything here feels so ephemeral- because it is. Friendships, the lifestyle I lead, where I live, my favorite places to go, they’re all fleeting. This time next year, chances are, I won’t even know the people I call my family here. We’ll be scattered all over the world living lives we could only dream of. At least that’s what I hope for them. They deserve their dreams.
It’s hard to believe that in just ten, short months I’ll be leaving this place and the adventure of a lifetime behind. And what do I have to show for it? Six Kinder Sopresa toys and a stuffed jamon leg. Well, hey, at least that’s something.
I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I just didn’t know it was going to be this hard. I find myself desperately craving emotional intimacy but being incapable of sharing beyond the superficiality of shoes, shopping, and makeup. It’s embarrassing.
I’m not this mindless. I’m not this spineless and I’m not just bumbling around dishing out acts of kindness.
I have something to offer and I am a real person who has depth but I just don’t know how to show it. I don’t know how to tell people that I’m worth getting to know. But if they were worth getting to know, would I need to tell them that I’m worth getting to know?
I guess it all depends on things out of my control. I only have control over how I see others and that’s where my power lies. I can choose to love over hate and I can choose to “be a rainbow in somebody else’s clouds…”- Maya Angelou
I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.
I get to my building, fumble with my keys, and stumble into the elevator as tears cloud my vision and my judgment. “Why does this stupid elevator door take so damn long to close?” I don’t want to be stuck in this tiny deathtrap with yet, another, stranger. But this time it’s different because I realize that I’m the stranger. The relationships I have here are new and strange, but the people with whom I have those relationships are strangers because I keep them that way. Call it a defense mechanism, but I’m tired of saying goodbye. If you never say hello, you never have to say goodbye, you never miss anyone, you never leave anyone behind. It’s a year, not forever. I have to realize that I’ve made these friendships out of an instinctual, human necessity to connect with people and belong to a community because that’s what humans do. I crave emotional intimacy because my human biology is hardwired to need, to belong to a community. I’m searching for familiarity in my environment because I need something to hold onto, something to ground me, something to remind me that this place and these people aren’t home. Because in a year, this place and these people will just be a passing memory of the year I spent on the “adventure of a lifetime.”
So if this place and these people don’t matter, why the tears?
My guess is that as much as I want to believe I’m keeping these people at arm’s length, I’m not. I kind of like them and the longer I am here, the longer I spend with them, the more I get to know them, the less time I have with them, and if I’m completely honest, these people are some of my favorite people I’ve met recently (to be fair, I don’t really meet people so it isn’t saying much…).
Okay, so maybe the tears were just for dramatic effect and maybe I didn’t fumble with my keys or stumble into the elevator and maybe neither my vision, nor my judgment were cloudy, but maybe it’s okay to acknowledge the fact that these people aren’t strangers, they’re my friends. And whether for the year, for a lifetime, or for the year and the short amount of time after graduation that people actually try to keep in touch, I know I’ll at least tolerate having these people around. Maybe even love having them around.
“I live for the nights I can’t remember with the people that I won’t forget…”- Drake