Some thoughts about the meaning of home

Aniska Bitomsky - Ecuador


September 21, 2019

(See attachments for picture)

Day 3 with my host family. I am sitting on my balcony and just came back from Cuenca from my firs language class. On the bus back I was a little overwhelmed by emotions and tried to sort out my thoughts, so far I have come to several realizations:

  1. Language is such an essential part of everything which I always took for granted. It is so frustrating not being able to express yourself or not understanding what the other person is sharing with you.
  2. Friends and people you feel comfortable with are the base for being able to rise up to challenges. They can make you feel at home anywhere.
  3. I feel pretty lost in the world as I have been in an awkward transition phase post UWC for quite some time now. I am in a house which is my new home, but it doesn’t fully feel like it yet because every social interaction is a challenge. After I leave Ecuador I am going to travel around for three months and then I am off to uni, another new home which I haven’t been familiarized with yet. Before coming to Ecuador I was also constantly traveling and I think there was more to it than just having the chance to see more of Europe.
  4. The past two months I have been travelling because a part of me was running away from the fact that I just lost my home at UWC which truly was my home for two years. Of course, I have my mum’s and dad’s home, but every time I go there it is just to visit and never fully “mine”; something is always missing, for example my friends or the feeling on permanency.
  5. I am eighteen and have no idea what home means; it has something to do with feeling comfortable and dropping all the masks; it has something to do with being loved; it has something to do with knowing your way around; it has something to do with how people perceive you (in Ecuador I am a gringa: a white person who is way taller than everyone else and kinda looks like a tourist).
  6. Maybe part of me is scared of making a home because I always end up saying goodbye and having to leave people and places behind. Something I had to realize is that traveling not only comes with a material price but also an emotional one. In order to go somewhere new you have to leave the old behind. Whether that was my family and friends in Europe or the familiarity of the English language or my newly fond UWC family in Quito or the comfortability of having settled in somewhere.
  7. The real question is: Is this sacrifice worth it?
  8. So far, there are moments where I’d say hell yes. Playing equa-volley with my host family or telling my host mum what I learned in Spanish class today or seeing the smile in their faces when I give them their host presents and show them the photography book about my city in Germany. The connections I have formed with people in the past two weeks at Stanford, Quito, Cuenca and Gualaceo are at the same time the cost and the reward.
  9. Independence is not only something I strive for but a part of my personality. When I took the bus for the first time on my own a feeling of relief and security overcame me. I felt like myself again. I am sure this feeling overcoming me is connected to my travels this summer which I did mostly on my own. However, it helped me realize something important: While I really appreciate my host family introducing me to everything[AB1]  (which is absolutely necessary because I do not know a lot about Ecuador), I also need to be in situations in which I have to figure stuff out on my own.

To be honest, I am finishing off this blog post nearly two weeks later. Today marks the day I arrived two weeks ago. So, I apologize for not being on top of things and I believe the reason can be linked to the lack of a settled routine. The next post is probably going to be more about sharing what I have been up to so far.

Hasta luego!

Aniska Bitomsky