I remember making the decision. I was sitting in my apartment on my familiar sofa, staring at “Year of Yes” by Shonda Rhimes, a book I had finished reading a few months before summer. My boyfriend, Martin, wanted to head home to Peru after graduating and decided to stick around in Vancouver to wait for me to graduate too. The catch? He said he wanted me to come check out Peru with him.
I don’t know why it seemed like such a crazy idea at first. I’d would be moving to a different country where they didn’t speak English (at all) and I knew nobody but Martin. At first thought, I could only think about how insane it would be for me to move to Peru for a guy I had been dating less than two years. But the more I thought about it, the less crazy it seemed.
Who am I?
I’m only 23. I’m was born in Canada. I moved to Bermuda with my family in 1996 and graduated high school there. I then made the move to Vancouver to complete a BA in English Literature and Social Justice at UBC. Moving to Vancouver and leaving the little bubble I called home in Bermuda was one of the hardest things I had ever done. Bermudians know what I’m talking about when I say Bermuda is sort of trap – and it had me trapped.
I was extremely homesick my first couple years at UBC. I was obsessed with the little island I had called home for so long. I was always counting down the days to when I’d be back. I had made a few friends at UBC but never made much of an effort because I knew my closest friends would always be in Bermuda. I’m not Bermudian, so I looked for ways to move back. I took classes in Accounting and considered Nursing a career (both things I don’t like and am not the best at) in an attempt to get a work permit. I was so comfortable on that tiny island and the thought of being anywhere else was terrifying. I was too comfortable.
My parents left Bermuda in 2013 to move to the Cayman Islands. This change was incredibly hard since I would be going “home” to visit them in a place that wasn’t home. I was used to spending Christmases and summers in Bermuda with my family and friends. Now, my time was divided and I eventually started spending less and less time in Bermuda. It was difficult not having a place to stay, and finding accommodation was hard and expensive. I did manage to go back to Bermuda for an entire summer on a work permit and rented a little room for far more than I should have ever paid. But this wasn’t sustainable and my parents weren’t happy with the amount of money I was spending.
I was now in my fourth year at UBC. I eventually started to spend more time in Vancouver over the breaks. I spent more time with the friends I had and created new connections with more people. I found it a lot easier to connect with the international students at UBC than the Canadian ones who, like I once had, seemed comfortable in their own Canadian bubbles. I had friends from across the globe – Vietnam, Thailand, Ecuador, Iran, Dubai, the US, Trinidad, Japan, India, the list goes on. I began to talk to and learn from people my own age who experienced similar things when it came to breaking out of their bubbles. Some of my friends had moved around a lot. For some of them, the move to Vancouver was a huge first step. But we all managed to make a little family together away from our homes. After a while, Vancouver started to feel like home too. I was becoming comfortable.
So, when Martin asked me to come along with him to Peru I said yes. Why the hell wouldn’t I jump at an opportunity like this? Not only am I able to experience living a completely new country, but I get to finally learn a second language (this is the part I’m honestly most nervous about). I studied Spanish throughout middle and high school but, in reality, I knew nada and it’s been nearly 6 years since I practiced. So I’m quite excited to learn a new language at a school, properly, in a completely immersed environment. I also get to explore a new country with my partner.
I’ve been asked a lot lately, “Are you ever coming back to Canada?”, “Isn’t this a huge step?”, “Aren’t you scared?” and to answer your questions: yes, no and yes.
I will come back to Canada. I’m Canadian and should I decide a month from now that I hate Peru and Martin (hehe), guess what I can do? I can leave! I’m incredibly fortunate to have the privilege (economic, social, political) to have this opportunity. And I’m also fortunate to have the privilege to leave should I want to. I know this is unfortunately not the case for most people across the world. As Oneika says – my privilege is as powerful as my passport.
Is this a huge step? I don’t really feel it is. Martin and I are both young and figuring out our post-grad lives. He wanted to come home and invited me with him. We had already been living together in Vancouver the last few months. It’s not like he got a ball and chain and forced me to move to Peru for the rest of my life. Us moving just worked out with timing and employment and school and so on. Plus, summer down south is just starting. Need I say more?
Am I scared? Of course. But I was also scared when I first moved to Vancouver. And to be honest, I’m much less scared this time around. Maybe it’s because I’ve visited here twice before. Maybe it’s because I’ve already stepped outside my comfort zone once before. I say the following to comfort my mom all the time: I’m treating this like the school exchange I never did while at UBC.
So, I’ve packed my bags and moved to Peru. I landed in Lima a week ago and I’ve already travel north to Mancora for New Years (a blog post to come on that). I’m back in Lima now and registered to start Spanish classes tomorrow morning. So stay tuned for loads of posts to come on this new chapter of my life.
Wish me luck!
Shout out to Shonda Rhimes, Kristyna Hoang and Dale Boorman. I don’t know if I would have made this jump if it wasn’t for you guys.