Hello 2017!

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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 😉

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Travel to escape or to seek?

 

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While I was packing to come to Toronto in October, I did not know what to expect. I just knew that I was finally realizing my dream of living abroad. Everything else was put in the back burner. I had put up with the critics, raised a few eyebrows and disregarded my fear of the unknown. “Are you sure you want to take that leap?” I kept being asked. But, my mind was already elsewhere…I had been wanderlust for a while and holding back was out of question. Tomorrow was foreign and enticing.

Three months later…Do I regret it? No! But, lately I have been asking myself a few questions. Namely the motivation behind the desire to go abroad. “So what brings you here? “, Is the recurring question I get from people who come from other countries too. We all come here with our stories and our motivations. Sometimes it is economical, sometimes it is just to follow our love one…What motivated me to travel 15,264 km away from my home country?

I read somewhere that you either travel because you are seeking something or because you are trying to escape something. So, am I a fugitive or a seeker? Either possible scenario raises a question: What am I escaping? Or what am I seeking? Are these questions really worth my time or am I just making a fuss of nothing?

See, there are so many cliches about travelling. We are led to believe that it gives you endless possibilities. So, we end up idealizing leaving it all behind as if it was the solution to our struggle. We think that the place we are in is not the right one so, we pack our bags, bide goodbye and move to another country. And of course with hope that our issues will just vanish by magic. But here is the thing: this is just bullshit. Traveling will not take care of your issues. Chances are, you will be bringing them with you. So, just scratch that option.

I think that I fall in the second category. I am the seeker. But, not with the typical line “I went abroad to find myself”. I opted for life abroad because of the promise of freedom it offered. It is only when you are miles away from home that you discover what you miss the most, what makes your heart beat, who you really are when no one is around to keep you grounded.

I have learned so many things about myself during these three months. I am allowing my new environment to mold me, shape me and transform me. All while remaining true to myself. Life abroad has shown me my strength, my weakness and my ability to think on my feet.

Everything I have learned so far can be sum up by Cesare Pavese’s quote: “Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it”.

How about you? What motivated you to go abroad? Are you the fugitive or the seeker? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below ;). Cheers 🙂