During the holidays, I went back home after almost a whole year of living abroad. If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen that I had the time of my life. It was so good to reunite with family and friends. I’ve enjoyed their company in a way that it wasn’t possible for me before.
I wanted to share with you my thoughts about leaving my hometown and then coming back for a short visit. I was planning to write about my goals and resolutions as my first 2018 post, but I felt this was more appropriate as the things I learned during this little trip back home will guide me through the new year.
By living more than 6,000km away from home, I’ve learned a thing or two about myself and life in general. A year ago I left thinking that I would never go back to Italy. I immediately felt at home in Toronto: I made new friends, I was doing good in school, and after a while I found a decent job. But then, I started thinking that maybe I could have had all of that at home too. I was missing my family and my friends so much. So I decided to go home for Christmas. I had high hopes and expectations for this trip. I really needed to understand a few things.
“It is so hard to leave – until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world”. I used to firmly believe in this quote by John Green. Now, I think it is the exact opposite. For me, leaving was easy. Leaving was my choice. Sure, I was nervous and a bit afraid, but I was dreaming of living abroad on my own since I was in middle school. I was so ready to leave everything behind and start this new adventure. And then, after the first few months, when everything seemed amazing, it started getting hard.
It is hard staying away knowing that you could go back whenever you want. It is so hard staying away knowing that everyone would welcome me back with open arms and warm smiles. Sometimes I feel guilty, sometimes I feel selfish, sometimes I feel alone. But most of the times, I love my life here in Toronto. I still believe I will move back to the old continent one day (living in Iceland or Norway is still on my bucket list), but not just yet. There are still too many things I want to experience here in Canada.
Although my trip back home wasn’t very long nor a permanent move, I felt like I was going back to my roots for a while. I believe it is true what they say that you start to appreciate things once you don’t have them anymore. I’ve never felt so connected to the place I grew up in or to my family and friends before.
The first thing that I’ve realized is that things changed, but not so much. Places were literally the same, hanging out with family and friends felt as good as it used to be. Most of the times I felt like I was never away for a whole year. Yet, everything was different. I’ve seen changes in all the little things and I had to readapt to the way of life in Italy.
During my first year in Canada, there were a few things I missed about Italy. But while I was there, I missed a lot of things about Toronto. Everything works so much better in Toronto. When I first moved here, I used to laugh when Canadians would complain about things here. After a while, I started seeing what didn’t work in their system as well. Now, coming back from Italy, I’m still in the “what are you even complaining about?” mindset.
Also, Toronto is so much cleaner. I remember noticing it when I first moved here and then I got used to it. I am not saying Milan is disgustingly dirty, but graffitis, cigarettes butts, flyers and old train tickets on the ground definitely ruined the atmosphere.
So, what’s harder?
I still don’t have an answer to this question. I made peace with the fact that while in Canada, there will always be things I’ll miss about home. After all, that’s the only thing I had known for years. At the same time, when in Italy, I will miss my life in Toronto so much. I love the freedom I have here, I love that I’m just Sarah, I’m not anyone’s daughter, sister, or friend. I love the life I created for myself. And I love that I can always call back home to share everything good and bad that is happening in my life.
- School. Because of the Ontario colleges strike, I am still finishing my fall semester. I have one last paper to write and just two finals out of four classes I am taking (which is amazing!). I’ll start my last semester at the end of January, which will consist mainly of placement. I’ll be in an elementary school four days a week, from 8am to 3am. My plan is to also keep working at the after-school program I am working at right now. Hopefully, it won’t be too much and I’ll be able to manage everything. I really enjoy my workplace and I feel like I’m getting a good experience and that I am learning things I’ll be able to use in the future. I’ve already did placement + work this summer and if I was able to manage working at the camp from 7am to 2pm and going to placement from 3pm to 11pm, I’ll definitely be able to manage an 8am to 6pm day.
- Blog. I’ve been away from the blog for a long time, but I really missed writing and sharing things. I feel like I now have a good routine and I am confident I can post at least once a week. For now, I will update the blog every Monday morning. I will also try to work on social media for the blog. I’m going to start with Pinterest and then I want to move to Twitter. I’m going to keep my Instagram more personal and I will keep sharing pictures of my adventures.
- College. I have a couple of posts already planned on college tips, how to survive last semester anxiety, and how to get the most from your placement/internship. I am still not sure if I’ll keep writing about college once I’m done with it.
- Travel. I really enjoy writing trip recaps and since I have plans to travel a bit during the spring, I will definitely share those adventures.
- Lifestyle. When I started this blog one of my ideas was to share the differences between Canada and Italy. I’ve realized I’ve actually never made any comparison post. I will work on this. I also want to write more personal posts about things I like to and places I like to visit in Toronto. Does this sound interesting?
- Personal. I am determined to make 2018 as good as 2017 was, especially the first half of 2017 when I felt motivated and was actively working toward my goals. I made a list (in my bullet journal) of things I want to accomplish and also resolutions I want to keep. I feel like the list is pretty simple, unoriginal, and probably totally lame, but that’s what I like:
- Read 20 books. I know this isn’t a high number, but I haven’t read that many books in a year probably since my last year of high school. What a shame! I really love reading, but I feel like I can’t find the right books anymore. I’m kind of over YA novels, so do you have any suggestion?
- Work out regularly. I love to take long power walks through the park, the problem is that I can’t do that when it is too cold or if there’s snow on the ground. I usually do at-home workouts during the winter, the thing is I do it twice and then forget for a whole month. I have a free gym and pool membership, so I really want to use it and establish a regular workout routine.
- Practice foreign languages. Since I’ve moved to Canada I kind of stopped formally studying English as I am surrounded by it, but sometimes I feel like I still don’t know it well enough. For English, my goal is to spend just half an hour every week to revise some grammar and learn new words. I am also brushing up my Spanish (I still can understand pretty much everything, but I can’t speak it anymore) and my goal is to learn it well enough that I will be able to speak it when I’ll be in Mexico. I am listening to a Spanish podcast almost every day on the subway and I am also tempted to join a conversation club (but I am too scared). Finally, last year I’ve picked up Norwegian and I am slowly learning some new things. Ideally, I will study it at least two hours a week (I know, not enough, but I’m not sure I’ll even be able to do two hours).
Have you ever spent a long time abroad? How was going back home? Also, do you have any new year’s resolution?