Paradoxically this year, I miss my neighbor blasting his stereo with the latest hits until the wee hours of morning. I miss impatiently waiting for midnight to light my firecrackers and going around to tell everyone happy new year. See, the tradition in Mauritius dictates that each family has to light firecrackers at midnight to mark the new year. And then, you hold family gatherings until mid-January to tell all your family members “happy new year”. It also involves lots of food, Sega and parties. Though it gives me a twinge of sadness, I am keeping the homesickness at bay and focusing on the exhilarating adventure I am having in Toronto. After all, everything in life has a price.
2016 has set the tone for change. This year in a nutshell has been a roller coaster of emotions. I finally realized my dream of living abroad and moved 15,000 km away from home. I dealt with culture shock, homesickness, awe and tasted freedom. I still haven’t got over my mixed feelings but I feel that Toronto has given me a do over. I have burned bridges and landed in this place where no one knows who I were. It was an opportunity to start afresh provided the old demons don’t crawl in the suitcases.
Here I was ready to reinvent myself in wherever way I choose. Experience to date? I have learned so much things about myself during four months. When no one is around to keep you grounded, no one can influence your decisions. You are left on your own and live your life the way you want to. Consequently, it shows you your strength, your weakness and your ability to think on your feet.
I started from scratch again and with baby footsteps. I have re-learned how to live and carry out daily activities. There are times when I felt like a lost puppy in this overwhelming city. Still, it gave me a certain confidence. There are people who spend their life contemplating the idea of moving abroad but who never dare to venture out of their comfort zone. I am happy to say that I took that leap though it required a few adjustments.
While I am immersing myself in my host country’s lifestyle and norms, I am still trying to keep up to date with my family and friends’ most important events. But, the nine hours of difference don’t make things easier. Sometimes, I feel like you need to book appointments to have a conversation. I have missed important celebrations back home and watched from afar as some people who I used to be closed to, become strangers as our conversation become less frequent. I watch from the sidelines as people carry on with their life.
I have met expats who were overtaken by how much things changed in Mauritius. They have been staying for so many years in Canada that they can never go back to their old life. Every time I meet these expats I wonder how it will be when I will go back home. I have heard so many people talk about reverse culture shock. And then I get lost in thoughts…It seems to me that I have one foot in Mauritius and the other one in Canada. Each country fulfill different parts of me. I miss the islander lifestyle of Mauritius. I miss Mauritius’ warmth and hospitality. Still, I am in love with the freedom Canada entails. I can walk in shorts without cars honking or being catcalled. I can do whatever I want without my neighbor commenting on my lifestyle and putting his nose in my business.
I often found myself in a bar or restaurant talking to random strangers about my homeland and my experience of living abroad. I have traded lands and cultures with other international students. We can relate to each other through common experience and some friendships were built like that. Overnight, some friends became my second family in a foreign land.
So, should I leave or should I stay? I guess I will have an answer to this question in due course…In the meantime, I am polishing my English, practicing my Spanish, living new adventures every day, settling in this new life and discovering new personality within myself. On that note, I wish you a happy new year. May this new year meet your expectations. May you venture out of your comfort zone and go for what you like :). Carpe Diem :). If you have any new year resolution, feel free to leave them in the comment section below. Cheers 😉