Time and time again, a lot of people would send me messages on how they wished that, they too, could live abroad. Normally, I would just smile and say, “Why don’t you?” But I get it, this is always easier said than done. It always is.
As much as I love living abroad, there are also some cons to it. Yes, living in New York has been quite a dream–challenging, but still a dream. I have worked so hard to get here, and prior to this moment were countless years of dreaming about what it would feel actually be here. I swear, my family and friends have been so fed up with hearing me speak about this good ol’ dream of mine. But hey, I have worked so hard and have done my part so this is myself reaping what I have sown.
As of today, I have lived in three different countries: the Philippines, the United States, and my favourite of them all, Morocco. Why Morocco? Honestly, there is a sense of je ne sais quoi in there, because I, honestly, do not know why! I just felt so at peace when I was in Morocco.
But to be truthful, behind every picture perfect photograph is just a girl who is still scared of the unknown. Unbeknownst to many, I am still constantly struggling to find the perfect balance between wanting to keep a piece of home with me and enjoying my current life abroad.
A few months ago, I had talked with an old friend from university and he had told me how a shame it was for me to be abroad and not be with my family. I have my choices and I regret nothing. Because at the time, I knew that it was the right choice to have made. But of course, I have often thought about not being able to see my family as much as I would have wanted, and not being able to see my niece grow up. It hurts my heart, of course, but this is my life now. All I can do is call them every so often that they would not forget about me, and the assure my family that I am okay.
You know what is real though? Home sickness. It is terribly bizarre feeling, because there would be days when a rush of it would just come to me all at once. Then I would feel so shitty and sad. But you know what I do? I cook. Normally, I usually like to cook, but when I am extra home sick, I would cook food that is from home and that I know would bring me comfort. Usually these are Adobo, Sinigang, Sinangag na may Bawang, Champorado, or Pancit Canton. These are simple food, but these food gives me the comfort I need to remember what it is like to be at home. Food is magic, to be truthfully honest. That is why I love to cook.
Living abroad is, most probably, the most painfully beautiful thing that I have ever done. To leave one’s home is a sign of strength that not everyone can do. But it does not mean that people who have done this, does not feel sad whatsoever. Because we do, and speaking for myself, I do, quite often, at that. That is why I am beyond grateful for friends back home who constantly check on me, and friends in my new home, that I get to lean on during rough times. I cannot emphasise how important it is to have a strong support system because there are times when you would feel so alone, and friends are necessary to help you pull it together.
You know what? I will do it again, in every lifetime, if I could. Because living abroad has made my horizon wider and my mind bigger so I now look at things in a greater perspective than I would have had I not moved away from my tiny little box at home. There is a learning that comes with moving to a new home, let alone a new country, or a new continent! These lessons are incomparable, and irreplaceable. I will do it again, if given the chance. I, most definitely, will.
Do me a favour, and check on your friends abroad. They might seem so distant at first, it is because they are trying their hardest to be strong amidst the challenges they are facing. Do me a favour and check on them. A simple ‘hey, how are you doing?’ would suffice. That, actually, is such a big deal already. You have to trust me on that one.
I remembered one time when I was living in Morocco, I had been so overwhelmed and had nobody to call. I did not want to call my parents because they would, undoubtedly, ask me to immediately come home. So I called my friend, Kirk, who happens to also live abroad in the UAE. I was hysterically crying and he just comforted me, because he knew how I felt. He knew what it was like to be so far from home. I would do that too, for any of my friends–may they be abroad or not.
So check on your friends, I beg of you. Some may be stronger than you think, but we need constant checking too, every now and then.
Live your life to the fullest, move as far away from home if you would like, and cherish every beautiful moment created in this life that we get to live. Do it, and do it well. You owe it to yourself.
“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.”
Psalm 127:1 NIV