• Natalia Albin

Starting over in a new country

Moving countries is a weird, confusing, exciting and terrifying thing. I mean, sure, you feel like you have a plan. It has taken so long to actually manage to do this – but then you are there and it all comes to a halt. The night I first arrived in London, I cried with happiness. I did it, I moved to a place I knew in the deepest core of my being I could call home.


When you arrive not everything goes to plan, not everything is perfect. Leaving everything behind means missing what your life used to be. The little comfort of waking up to my dog every morning, the small bliss of avocado and toast in my mum’s terrace. I began to miss things I took for granted. The constant sunshine, the call from my friend who needed to come to mine RIGHT NOW for tea and comfort, the last-minute plan to go to the cinema because one of us just had to get out of their house, the texts and connections and massive social life that you get when you’ve been in the same place since you were a child.


Then I get on a bus or a train and go to the centre of this crazy, bustling city where I can actually get public transport at mostly effective timings. I can see the London Eye, the towering buildings just past London Bridge and the way they look when they have just turned the lights on against the golden winter-sunset, I catch St. Paul’s old blue dome just past the river. I feel, in that moment, like the luckiest person in the world.


Some parts will never get easier, like not being there for people you love. When my friend called me because she was going through a hard time and I could not hug her. When my mum felt ill for days and there was nothing I could help with. When I know a friend is finding singledom hard and disappointing and I cannot invite him to have chicken-wings as usual. I will always have a life back there; miss my family and my friends. It is something I knew, but knowing and accepting is not always the same thing.


When you are where you always have been, you know choices are broad and there will be a place for you somewhere. There will be a job soon. There will be weddings and parties. There will be film and cheese nights with your family, or times when you and your friends have wine and chat and you get that warm feeling of how much you love them. The assurance that no matter what, you are always home.


When you move somewhere new, everything is uncertain. You cannot be sure if your new friends like you, making plans is harder, there’s no friend you know well enough yet to bare yourself to. You feel too old to form a deeply bonded friendship group (even though you are not). Jobs are harder to find because there is a certain criteria for them (sponsor my visa, anyone?). You cannot go back and stay at your parents’ house if things go wrong.


I realise with a start, though, that even with all of this, there has not been one second where I have regretted the choice to come here and start anew. I don’t want my life to be pre-determined, I want it to be as full of newness and adventure as possible, I’m only twenty-four after all. This is what my twenties are supposed to look like: uncertainty and new places.


I live with a person I love and trust, someone to catch me if I fall, someone I can build a home with. I have been looking forward to this flat I live in for five years. It’s little things that I hold on to and slowly but surely, I’m starting to find comfort in my life here. That mirror I bought to make the entrance to my flat look perfect. The fresh flowers that I had to get from Morrison’s because flower shops in Peckham don’t open on a Sunday (duh). The wine I can have with dinner on a Tuesday because I’m actually a grown up (what a concept).


The knowledge that the fruit man downstairs trusts that I’ll pay him the right amount because I’m there every week. I am starting to understand the ins and outs of London, where I can get hardware, crafts, stationery, vintage decorations and new clothes. How often trains come and go, how much to trust the apps when it comes to buses. I know my area and the shops.


At the end of the day, as I write this with my Morrison’s flowers next to me and the fruit I got from my local street vendors in the fridge. I look back at my boyfriend, sitting on his laptop next to the plant we’ve nurtured for two months now and I feel home. Even if there is still a lot to build, I’m excited. Fear should not negate excitement; it should not cripple or stop you. Sometimes, leaving that comfort blanket, jumping out of that security and insurance of a life might just be the best decision you could make.

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