No one prepares you for leaving. They tell you about the homesickness that will plague you upon arrival, the culture shock that you think you’ve gotten over until one day you find yourself confused once again, the infuriating nature of international bureaucracy that is made all the worse by a language barrier. But no-body tells you what it’s like to leave, how to deal with the cocktail of emotions running through you, and over which you have no control. On one side you welcome it, wishing with all your might that you were in own country, where you not constantly checking your grammar or your cultural interactions, where no-body mocks you for your funny accent, where no one bats an eyelid at your appearance, where you’re not made to feel like an outsider. You long for the comforts of home. Yet at the same time you cannot escape the inevitable sense of dread, the dread that once there you won’t fit in, that whilst speaking English you’ll suddenly throw in a Mexican slang term, you’ll introduce yourself a la mexicana, hugging and kissing anyone and everyone, and immediately out yourself as “the one that got away” yet came back. You’re stressed and begin to overthink: how will I get everything home? What if my flight is delayed? Does my insurance cover me for this? What if I’m not allowed back in the country? What if I’m not allowed to leave? But the worst is yet to come: you are overwhelmed with sadness at the thought of leaving those you have become so close to and whose friendships have crossed all cultural divides. What do you mean I only have two weeks left with these amazing people to whom I have become so close and without I can’t imagine my life? Of course I have wonderful friendships waiting for me back in the UK, friendships full of love and endless chats catching up on everyone’s adventures. But that doesn’t stop the unbelievable emptiness you feel at having to say goodbye, even if it is only temporary. You’ve made this your home, and now you must say goodbye again to yet another piece of your heart which remains there.

That’s what being an immigrant is: leaving a little of your heart behind in every place you live. Although your heart is growing with every new experience, every new friendship gained, it is also constantly breaking when the time comes to bid these experiences and friendships adieu. It is a frankenstein heart if you will, make up of fragments each showing a new love and heartbreak you’ve experienced during your nomadic existence. It doesn’t belong here nor there, it is in a constant state of limbo, much like you. But that’s the life of an immigrant I suppose, and although the most rewarding experience in the world, it’s not without its trials and tribulations. I just didn’t think leaving would be the biggest one yet.



Starting at the end: The pain of leaving

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