Who doesn’t want to get their feet on the road and go out on limb somewhere? The reality of being in the road – it’s written in our genes, we are migrant animals. But with so many different cultures, how could someone really be at ease with themselves somewhere they’ve never been?
Imagine entering some restaurant and ordering some beans, for instance. Back home, you’d get red beans; in Colombia, you would get giant black beans. In Ireland, you’d get a potato. Each place has its own little things that may sound the same – and may hold the same value for the locals – but it’s not the same as what you’re used to. The so called culture shock – it’s the beauty of it all.
As I write this, it’s sunny outside, and it’s a rare sight here on this island. Back home, a sunny day is just like any other day – and for me, spending a sunny day inside is not such a loss. However, both of my flatmates are out in town, doing whatever europeans do on sunny winter days. I remember once (in Canada) how I was astounded by how much sun they would get during the summer (the Canadians were too). They later said that long hot summer days make the winter tolerable. Winter, for me, is such a lovely season, but to others it’s unwelcome.
“I am drawn to those streets,
like a firefly towards the light”
To survive in such dangerous territory, we need to make friends. Fairly quickly, to be honest. Ask anyone who has been away, or is away right now. We need to build friendships at an astronomically fast rate, and some aren’t comfortable with that. Not even extroverts.
Knowing how to move on with your new life can be challenging, and some people don’t take to it very easily. It takes a lot of courage and determination. There’s no shame on coming back and admitting to have made a mistake in going there. If you don’t adjust to a place, it’s for some particular reason. Maybe it’s the air or the water. But never blame it on the food.
Wanderlust. It’s the most desired thing and the sheer terror of moving somewhere else is relegated to a couple of tears every now and then. As the odd one out, one can only wonder if the tragic violins in the sky are playing for oneself. At those moments of difficulty and struggle, be deaf but not blind. Hear no evil, see all good.
The culture shock sometimes can be the language – if you can’t understand it, things can be so much worse. Personally, I remember my excitement once I landed in Seoul and staying there, even for a little while, changed my life and the person who I am. Yes, I didn’t know shit in regards to the language and had no idea what people were saying – but still, the lights and the rain mesmerised me. I am drawn to those streets, like a firefly towards the light. If there’s a sense of belonging I don’t know, but that was the closest I’ve ever gotten.
Alejandro Sánchez is a boy from Nicaragua who fell in love with the world and people. He wants to share it with whoever wants to hear about it, especially if there’s coffee involved.