Velvet, yellow, green leaves that flew when the wind blows. The tiles, the air, the green fields that started to wither. The people. The language. The land. They all remind me how far I have come from home and how far more I can go.
Europe is a place I have dreamt of visiting since I was young and yet I didn’t only visit once nor four times but here I am, making a life here. It feels still so surreal. Until now, I still can’t believe that I uprooted myself, changed my country and my continent.
It has been a year since I left Japan. It seems short but believe me, I feel like a decade has happened. After all these months, I felt one thing I’ve been waiting to feel all along: the air of being home.
But before that, there were so many obstacles and pushing and pulling in between. There were struggles, adjustments, and hardships. It was not an easy road to feeling this and that made this feeling even more precious to me.
When I got here, after the Christmas season and New Year, when everything was settled and clear, the effect of moving came: Frustration. I got frustrated that I cant understand anything, that I can’t get a job, I didn’t have my own friends, My diploma is not valid in Europe. Then panic came: I started to think maybe this was not for me, maybe I did the wrong thing to move to the other side of the world. Maybe they’re right that I am crazy enough to change. Maybe my life in Japan was better and it will never be the same here. I did so much overthink and assumptions to the point of breaking. I questioned myself, my abilities, everything I have done before. I thought maybe this was not the life I wanted. Everything went crumbling for me yet what kept me going (and still keep me going) is my man.
He never gave up in encouraging me. He was always there, supporting me. Even if I get tantrums that were out of this world, he just hugged me and say everything will be alright.
The moment I started going to Dutch school is when I started to pick myself up. Every day I saw people who were struggling the same with me. I started to understand the language and it gave me a little confidence that I needed. It didn’t stop there. I started another social orientation class about Belgium, the laws and more about the country and the more my confidence grew. I was still lost and a little bit scared but I felt like I was going somewhere.
In my social orientation class, we didn’t have any final exams though. Instead, we had a chart. A chart of our long-term goal in Belgium with steps on how to achieve it. That time, I realized how long the journey to fulfillment will be. I saw the effort and time. I went back to my insecurities and fear. I felt like I can’t do this much work just to achieve a normal life I can live in my own country or in Japan. The things I picked up along the way just crumbled.
But, there’s a “but”. I continued on. In the midst of all the disappointments and uncertainty, I decided to move on. I actually did the 1st step that I put on my goal chart: I applied to validate my diploma. It was a start. There were not a lot of requirements but the result is in 6 months: they may say yes or no or continue studying. And as of last month, I got the validation. My degree is finally recognized here! Also, I decided to find a job. In my desperation, I was willing to take anything until I landed on my job now in the hotel industry.
I’m only working for 5 months but it felt like a long time already for I have learned so many things. I started at the lowest. I was in housekeeping and it was the first physical job I have in my life. It wasn’t easy but someone told me that your work doesn’t define who you are. As long as you earn money, like everyone else, you are not a lesser or a greater person. Work is work. And that what kept me going until I got promoted to the restaurant.
I realized that the more you empty yourself, the more you can fill yourself up. I emptied myself of every single thing I had. Even my pride, my own desires, everything and now, I’m filling up the gap, growing, learning and slowly building my life. I lost some but I gained so much more.
I regret nothing. I’m actually glad I moved out of my comfort zone because then I started knowing myself more. I went to a place I knew no one and nothing about and here in that unknown ground, ironically, I found myself.
I know there will be things that will still happen to me but the journey to feel home is this. I am proud of it because it made me into someone I didn’t even know I can be.
Just like a flower that moved into a new pot: At first, it’s okay but it will eventually look like it will die because of the new environment but one should be persistent in taking care of it, nurturing it and giving it the time it needs because one day, it will bloom where it’s planted. Replanted, rather.