When I stepped into the airport three years ago, to chase my dreams, little did I know that home was not just a place, but a feeling. No matter how many times I stress on it, “I am home” will never be the same as squeezing my parents into a tight hug, the first time I was back in India. Now the phrase “I am home” is more of a question. Am I home? Is this where I belong? I am home, yet so far from it. Ever since I was a teenager, I deeply longed for financial independence but when it came to my door, the sadness of not seeing the everyday pride in my dad’s eyes, not having my mother to keep a check on my savings and not having my sister to grab a plate of hot steamed momos in our neighborhood stall overrides the happiness that money brought. I can go lines and lines on how I miss my old life, but my mother always tells me that life is a journey, not a destination. Change is good, if not for change, I would never appreciate what the first 22 years of living on this planet gave me. We bond better as a family, we gain new experiences, we meet new people and make new connections.

I vividly remember my first day here at the university, getting off the shuttle, exchanging awkward smiles with a bunch of fresh faces. As new as their faces seemed, there was also a strange sense of familiarity, that weird sense of warmth about people who are going through the same rush of emotions as you are. Slowly each day only gets better, you find yourself settling down in this new country, creating a new place of existence for yourself, meeting friends, and individuals who become a family. These years, where I had to stand up for myself, look after myself and fend for myself, learning through hard memorable experiences, and having to prove myself all over again to new people and survive, I truly hold them dear. When I was 15 if someone told me, I would be in a new country working to creating a new life and paying off a six-digit loan, ten years later, I would call them crazy. Now, this is the everyday life I live for. This is the place that has opened me up to opportunities and connections I would have only dreamt about.

Moving to this country also makes me appreciate smaller things back home. No one tells you the value of being a citizen in the place you live in. Back in India, the rights we possess on daily basis, the liberty to follow our hearts according to our passion, the freedom to make varied career moves and above all the confidence and trust to build a family and truly make this place where you are accepted, is the feeling I feel deprived of in this country. Just the thought of someone taking away the life you built here, in a split second, forgetting all the tear and sweat that went through to create it, scares the living daylight out of me. Sometimes I feel like there are two unique versions of me, two personas I have created for each of the countries, two very different yet similar people. Honestly, I do not want to let go of either of these. With time I feel the best way to cope with this dilemma is by letting yourself sink fully in what you feel each day. There might be days you want to cry your heart out, days you feel lonely and homesick, days you feel blessed for the opportunity, days you feel grateful for how well your life has shaped up, appreciate each of these thoughts because if goodbyes or changes were easy it only means you were never truly happy. Maybe this place too will feel like home someday, the place where you and I belong.

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