Who someone is before an experience and who he or she is after it, seems easy.
Actually, the starting point could be identified. It can be the reason that pushes you to leave, to be curious about something different, new, or to run away from something that after some time becomes boring to your eyes. The point is that all this becomes like a drug, when you leave for the first time it is always only the first time: there will be a lot of other times coming after!
I have always known that I would leave one day. I think the ones at fault were the people in my English books: all students coming from different parts of the world meeting each other in England to learn English. People bringing their cultures together and experiencing the ones of the others. That’s how they generally present it. So, it’s easy for a teenager to start to dream to go somewhere else as well to learn a language, exactly like it happens in the books.
I like to think that one of reasons why I started to study at University was because I wanted to leave on Erasmus. Well, I can divide my life into two periods: before Erasmus and after Erasmus. The point is that, as I wrote before, once you leave home for the first time then you want more and more, and when you find out that there are a lot of possibilities to travel with Erasmus (that are not only the one in University) that’s the end: these two periods become just the intervals between one trip and the next, between discovering more and more about yourself, going more and more into yourself and out to yourself.
What I want to talk about here is how my soul was broken up into little pieces by travelling. It could seem, at first impression, that I would change something. Well, no!
When I left for my first Erasmus, I had no expectations: I was totally happy and totally afraid at the same time. When I tried to imagine how it could be, I had a black picture in my mind: something totally unknown, but also very exciting. Of course, not everything is easy during your first time living abroad, but if you find the right people experiencing the new situations with you, you can also feel invincible (and let’s say that when you are 21 it is much easier to feel invincible). But Erasmus doesn’t last forever. The last night before going back home was the moment when I realised that my soul would be broken: I had two homes, and several selves: the one left home, the one who was afraid to leave and the one who wanted desperately to leave, the one who felt home somewhere else, the one who wanted to come back home and the one who would never come back home. The one who started to understand something about herself and the one who had always known it. Then, maybe the moment when you realise how much you have changed in a few months is when you are at home again: you see it in the eyes of your friends, from the new attitude to life, from that strange energy you feel you have and from the fact that you are probably looking on any occasion for strangers in your city.
Easy to imagine that after that time I want(ed) more and more.
One of the things that made me feel really comfortable travelling is that I met some people, who then became my friends, not people you just meet once or for a while and then not anymore, but real friends. This is what it means, for me, finding a home in another place. Friends. People.
And at this point the soul breaks in more and more pieces. One of your secrets is in Sardinia, the confession you are afraid to tell in Leipzig, the person who relies on you in Portugal, your story lived by someone else in Greece, your good energies somewhere between Romania and South Africa, your disappointment in Berlin, as well as your hopes and your best memories. Finally, your whole self is still in Naples, your home, the place you will always miss and love and hate.
After all, I would let my soul break in the same way I did, even if I am always a bit of a stranger everywhere, too Italian for Germany, too German for Italy.