I am a 25 year-old girl from Rijeka, Croatia, a lover of Turkey who is an EVS volunteer in Izmir’s Pi Youth Association. Graduated journalist with an overall enthusiasm for media. Both dog and cat person, trying to teach people what is ‘teal’ – my favorite color, similar to the color of Bosporus. I am a part of Erasmus Student Network and a strong believer that ‘Mobility is a Lifestyle’. More about my experience in Turkey can be found on my Instagram @velntajn.
People I know often ask me: „How come you decided to move to Turkey?“, and I end up confused for a moment, because I have no concrete answer to that question. It wasn’t an abrupt decision, nor a thought-through plan. Somehow, inexplicably, for a couple of years, I knew I would eventually end up here. Turkey wasn’t one of the choices for my next travel, getting the top spot in the end – it was somewhat of a call, a strong feeling of a path that I needed to take, because otherwise I wouldn’t feel complete. As I said, it is inexplicable.
I have been struggling with the feeling of ‘homelessness‘ ever since I went to my first exchange in 2016, because after living somewhere else, many people start to feel lost, torn between two (or more) ‘homes’, the places where they lived precious moments and, even though they passed, the place where they happened will hold an eternal memory of them. And we like to hold onto memories – they give us the feeling of known, some sort of emotional security, a feeling that is often related to the feeling of home.
How do you live happily if you have many homes? If you have dozens, hundreds of memories that always take your mind to those places, but none of them are actually ‘the one’, the place where you feel like ‘this is it’, this is where I belong.
This exchange, my third one, or maybe even fourth, it depends how you look at it, is by far most painful. Most wanted of course, most desired and expected, but also most painful. Why is that so? Well, imagine splitting your soul into many many pieces and scattering them all over the world – to the countries and cities you’ve been to, in the moments, in the people you meet and grow to love. That has happened to me more than I think I can take. For that reason, there is some kind of emptiness inside of me, along with excitement of getting new moments, and a huge fear. Fear of living the moments, and never being able to get them back, moments that are going to connect me to this place forever, the moments because of which I will feel less and less ‘home’ when I finally return home.
That is why I believe that going for a longer exchange means breaking your own heart. You are consciously choosing to exit from your stability, to drop everything you have built, to leave behind the people that matter the most and whose smiles make you want to live your life (I am looking at you, Ivana Hernandez) – and off to the unknown (which also means you are very, very brave). Secondly, you are heading towards the magical moments that you will never get back and will always be tied to the place where they happened, and along with burning bittersweet feeling you will always want to come back, at least in your thoughts. And lastly, the reason this is breaking your heart is the fact that you will never feel the same again. Your home isn’t what it used to be, your friends didn’t share some of the most important moments of your life, and the feeling of restfulness is hard to push away.
Reading this text, somebody might think that I am not an ambassador of mobility, but you’re terribly wrong.
The only reason why the things I have described are so hard, is because being abroad is so beautiful, amazing, magical – like moments frozen in time, or how we like to say, ‘your life in one year‘. Many have written about what you gain, why this is the time of your life, about the importance of multiculturality, strolling down new cities and eventually becoming a local, finding beauty of a new language. I don’t have any more words for those things, and those feelings are hard to describe – you have to live them.
And naturally, it is always the best time of your life.
So breaking your heart is worth it. I am absolutely sure about that, otherwise I wouldn’t have done it several times.
And for the end, I would like to say one thing, told to me by a dear friend, which almost became my motto: ‘We pay for our travels with pieces of our souls‘. It means that yes, you’re giving a part of your soul to a moment, to a place, to a wonderful person – but they do the same, don’t they? They give a part of their soul to you, and your soul turns into a mosaic of people and moments.
That is the biggest gain of an exchange, and the best treasure to find. It’s worth it.