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Living abroad: a dream shattered by routine

At the prime of my childhood, around 5 years old, I boldly declared I did not want to spend my next holidays on the beach. Visiting the Louvre sounded much more exciting to me! My then bucket list consisted of eating pizza in Pisa, seeing the infamous Monalisa with my own eyes, checking if the Coliseum was real, and trying all chocolate-based ice cream flavors in Italy.

Living abroad: a dream shattered by routine

By the age of 10, I questioned my relatives with immense despise "Why was I born in Brazil?", "Why did Grandpa come here after all?", "Why wasn't I born in the USA?", and so on. (Some of these questions were fuelled by the ever-ongoing North American brainwashing all Latinos face throughout their lives.) Quickly, I decided it was my fate to move away from Brazil.

It was clear I had no place in Brazilian society and culture. I hated everyone and everything, I could not make friends and struggled with the never-ending hell-like summer. The solution to all my problems would be a self-imposed exile, and I needed to make it happen as soon as possible.

Over the next half a decade, I studied tirelessly to become proficient in English and German. As for plans C and D, I took Spanish and French lessons, I could not risk my chances of a life abroad. Over my teenage years, I spent a good deal of time in Germany, laying my path to a potential life in what I then called my “Heimat”. At full throttle, my escape route was taking form, and I had no intentions of using any breaks.

I did not expect that my very supportive parents would be the ones to forbid me to move abroad when at 17 I had everything ready to change my permanent address to Berlin. At the time, they claimed I could only make the move when I decided what I wanted to study at Uni. Fair enough: I was enrolled in three different courses in Brazil, with no clue what to pursue (spoiler alert: I'm still as indecisive as I was a decade ago).

To my surprise, as soon as my life after high school began, I felt more at home. During the next 5 years, all scattered puzzles aligned and life felt good, really good. But I still had the gut feeling I needed to go somewhere and do something big.

Quitting my very stable and loved career, and all my family behind felt appropriately big. So just before the pandemic hit us all, I decided to pursue my childhood dream once and for all. One-way ticket in my hands and all my belongings packed in two (maybe three?) gigantic suitcases, I flew across the Atlantic to establish a temporary home in the UK.

Fast forward 4.5 years, guess what? I'm still in the UK! What I envisioned for my life when I was 5, 10, or 15 is a bit far from reality, but that's not bad. I found myself quite content with what Britain has to offer, most of the time.

It's now been 1,387 days and I can't lie saying it's always easy. Yes, I did make the bed and I sleep in it. But no one told me living abroad would be this hard at times. I don't want to sound ungrateful, I do love my life here, and this is the place I chose to be right now. However, I spent a lifetime dreaming of faraway lands and forgot that routine is routine everywhere, no matter your postcode.

But this routine comes without a familiar support net. On this island, I don't have my childhood friends, my mom, and my family. I don't even have the comforting sensation of knowing all streets and having a
story to tell about all corners of a neighborhood. I hated the never-changing weather of Brazil, but I do miss very much the heat when it's finally summer here (how do they even dare to call it 20oC summer????).

Somedays, like today, all I want to do is drive to my mom's home, have a nice dinner with her, and watch something stupid on the telly holding her hand and petting my dog. Unfortunately, this is not on the menu when you move 9,496.99 km away from home.

I'm lucky enough to not feel like an outsider in London, where I live, but not feeling like an outsider is not the same as feeling truly at home. Facetime and instant messages make the distances shorter, but the guy at the corner shop still does not speak Portuguese and he will never have a proper mango or yucca to sell.

No matter how hard I try, my coworkers will never understand why I smile so much, they think I'm just very nice. They might even mock me for talking too much about Brazil, but what can I do when living abroad finally gives me the right perspective on my country?

To end this messy diary on a positive note, I think that's the bright side of all of this. Those extra 5 years I spent in Brazil after high school were vital for me to fall in love with Brazil, and to understand my own culture and the value of this beautiful country. The perspective of time and distance make sure I only remember the good things and make me eager to year after year schedule some time to spend home. Already counting the days for the next time!

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