I have moved a lot of times in my life – as I probably mentioned to every person in my vicinity over the past year – and I remember from a very young age, the difficulty of changing your environment on a two to three year basis. Although until the age of 11 I was homeschooled – which will probably make anyone reading this go : what on earth can be hard about moving, if you learn at home? – leaving the house I loved, the garden I used to play with my siblings (and the occasional friend) in and just a certain routine, was always a difficult mission to accomplish. Granted I was young, so when my parents got me a small suitcase to put my stuff in, I was easily and effectively appeased.
As the years went by, I began going to school and switching my environment became increasingly difficult. Arriving at a country, getting to know people, leaving them and being expected to repeat these steps, was a very hard and emotionally challenging process. And so I naturally began fearing the change of environments, and frankly, hated moving.
With all this (long) introduction in mind, I arrived in my host family in Ecuador – Over summer I was very apprehensive of what it will mean to live in yet another country.
How will I manage to go to a new environment, and build relationships/friendships whilst knowing that I’m there for only 6 and a half months. The first week was tough, like really tough, like not knowing any word besides “hi, good morning and can I help” tough. After my first month I was still sure that when the time will be up, it will be very easy to leave – I was young and innocent back then. As the time passed I was forced to immerse myself into my community. It took a long time with Spanish vocabulary, conjugations and all the rest of the language learning stuff – guys, stop saying Spanish is easy, it ain’t once you go beyond “Hola”.
It took time, hard work, and genuine commitment but I did it, I became a part of the family. They became a part of my life and I became a part of theirs. My (second) family treated me as one of their own: my mom would call from work to make sure I ate, whilst my dad would try and convince me to go with him to as many cross-fit trainings as possible – it gets very tough when you do it more than once a week (believe me, I would know) – my sister would make fun of me whilst telling me about her boy problems, and my brother would just jump on me at random times whilst screaming: “ornini , ornini”. Although at times I wanted to be back at home or left alone in my room. now when I’m back and I realise that I will not see these people for the coming years, that no one will try and convince me every day to eat about a kilo of rice and a guinea pig, or tell me that I need to grow some muscles. I understand how much I miss my family in Ecuador, and how fortunate I was to become a part of that family.
The point of this emotional and vulnerable paragraph, is to say that: by the time I had to leave my family and community, I understood one thing, that led me to aspire to be able to continue travelling from place to place in the future. As long as you say goodbye to a place that meant a lot to you in an appropriate way – acknowledge what you have learnt from being there, what was good, what was bad, what you will miss and what you will choose to carry with you in the future – you will be able to make peace with your past, and continue to explore and learn in the future.
And so – before I begin crying – here is a list of ten things (in no particular order) which I will miss, and will carry the memories (and lessons) of, with me in the future.
- Waking up in the morning to screams of “Or, come to breakfast”
- Seeing my brother arrive from school, and giving him a piggy back ride to the top floor
- the nickname Ornini
- Drinking turkish coffee with the helper in the house (making connections through my love for coffee is special guys)
- Regretting the pain I had in my lower back after a session of cross-fit, but being happy about getting closer with my dad as a result.
- Going to runs with my mom and creating deep conversations from talking about the most random things
- 12 hours of guitar classes for $25 a month
- Closing the door of my room and playing Nick Mulvey songs, that I learnt from the 12 hours of guitar classes I had a month
- Painfully learning how to dance Salsa, Bachata, Merengue and Regeaton. Only to see my 5 year old brother dancing, and realising that I ain’t even close to his level.
- The importance of family unity