Wednesday, 23 May 2018

From Colombia to Idaho

By Natalia Moncayo López

It takes courage, leaving your home just to see what’s outside, and by ‘outside’ I mean going to another country to try your fortune, to experience new things, to embrace different points of view, to eat another kind of food, and even shower with water that smells different.

In 2014, I decided to leave my home. I didn’t want to be just a wife, or a fabulous mother, or an excellent student; my parents finally understood that my way wasn’t here in Colombia, or at least, Colombia didn’t have the air that my body needed. I bought the thickets, I felt really anxious about the future, and about the trip. I wanted to become someone better, so that way I could transform the world I was living in.

I left on 31 December 2014 at midnight. When the plane’s departure was getting close, my family was unable to fight back tears, and so was I; we knew that it was going to be a year in which everything could change. I literally felt my heart skip a beat for a moment; even though things weren’t going right, and we were going through rough times, I was watching the perfect picture of my family while they were hugging each other, forgetting all their differences just so I could remember them at least smiling for a moment. I turned and left. 

When my plane arrived, I felt chills running through my whole body, I couldn’t believe I was completely alone in a completely different world, where nobody spoke Spanish, but me. Two feelings were fighting in my head: the first one was excitement for meeting my host family and desperation, because I couldn’t express myself, not even to buy a coffee in the airport! When I was in Colombia taking my English classes, I swear I thought I knew how to speak English, yet now I realized I had a “broken English” and could barely speak like a 3-year old kid.

It was winter when I got to Idaho, my bones were freezing. Everything I saw was new to me, every single detail made me feel like a different person.

The first 2 months felt like the ultimate test for me. I had to be strong enough to recognize that I wasn’t living in my own house, that I had to coexist with our differences and that I had to learn to express myself with my body, while I learned to speak better English. I was homesick, even if my new friends tried to take me to new places or just to drink coffee, I felt a huge hole in my heart, because the things that bothered me the most in Colombia, were the things that I was also missing the most. Weird thing that I couldn’t understand myself.

Starting the third month, I decided to stay, I understood that I left home for a reason, a good one, and I needed to learn how to be happy and responsible by myself. Weeks started passing by and I met an amazing guy who I dated during my whole exchange. He took me to the best places in Nampa, and with him I went to Lake Lowell, my favorite place so far.

The last month, I realized I had to come back home, but I wasn’t the same person as a year ago. I didn’t want to leave, my heart wasn’t just Colombian, I felt like an American. My accent got softer, I had fallen in love with someone, I had amazing friends, so I understood that no matter how rough things can get, what’s really important is your attitude to face them.

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