Before going back to my country for a visit, I hadn’t realized how much I had changed. Those first days, being back, made me see things differently, and made me reflect upon what really happens when you leave.
I had promised myself not to be one of those people who leave their country and come back for a visit with different expectations. When I’d lived in Romania, I had detested people who came back from foreign countries giving themselves airs about their new lifestyle. I mocked people who after a couple of years away came back with an accent and a different personality. I appreciated my country, and my decision to move away didn’t mean that I had to find fault in everything I had left behind.
And there I was, in a bus with my mom, traveling through Bucharest, when a conductor came to me asking for a ticket. He wasn’t asking, in my opinion, he was yelling at me to hurry up and show him my ticket. I was startled and, trembling, I showed him my ticket. He noticed my reaction and asked me if he’d scared me. I said he had. He seemed to care about my state, but not enough to drop the authoritative tone. And right then and there, I realized what it meant to be back.
For the past couple of years I had forgotten to be alert, to expect the unexpected at every single step. I was used to living in a Canadian community, where people greeted each other and smiled on the streets, where you needed to be careful not to offend, and always made sure that you came across as being as open-minded and non-judgemental as possible.
The first couple of days in my old hometown were very difficult. I wanted to run back to Canada, where everybody was comparatively calm and relaxed. I was bothered by people who were speaking too loudly, I was annoyed by people pushing me around… and I was feeling out of place. Why was this happening to me? I was home, at last, but somehow I felt I didn’t belong anymore. My home had changed, and I was changing too.
Everybody seemed depressed, nobody was smiling; they all had problems to fix, meetings to go to, and arrangements to make.
I, on the other hand, was beaming with optimism and happiness. Nothing was too hard or too sad for me. How had that happened?
I soon realized that life in Canada had left a huge scar on me. It hadn’t been easy to survive the drastic changes involved in moving to a new country, but I had done it, with my mind and my heart. I’d had to smile and push myself in order to move forward with my life. I had compromised on everything, even on my language skills, in order to survive depression. I had stayed positive and uplifted in order to keep my sanity. I had changed.
My personality was bruised – but I was stronger, and I felt that I could overcome anything. I left had my country as a young girl, and I returned as a woman from Canada.
Life in Canada has made me challenge myself, made me adapt, transform and be creative. Life in Canada has changed me forever.