It has been almost a month since I went to Peru, my home country, and I have lots to share with you about this experience.
My home country is not found just a few hours away by plane, but almost a full day of travelling. Peru is more than 10,000 km from Scotland, and it took me 19 hours to get there safe and sound!
It is not only about the distance but all the preparations that you need to make before your travel. You need to prepare yourself financially, find the right time to go, be prepared for the different weather and, most importantly, prepare emotionally. Visiting home can be so emotional when you have not seen your family in a long time, especially if it has been 3 years since the last time you saw them! I had 2 weeks to try to make up for all the time without them. It wasn’t an easy task!
Managing to see all my closest family and giving them all the love and attention that they deserve was challenging. Despite the rush, I had the best 2 weeks of my life in Peru and I made life-long memories.
When you are an international student, you get used to feeling like a foreigner. You are used to looking different, talking different, making new friends everywhere you go, etc. For me, going back home always feels like a therapy session. It is where I am reminded that I belong. It is the place where I get a break from feeling like ‘the new kid in town’, and where open arms receive me eagerly. It is where I do not need to prove myself but just allow myself to be loved.
My family and friends smothered me with good old meals I used to love, words I haven’t heard in years, family anecdotes and photographs that I had never heard or seen before. (I also loved the look on their faces when telling them about this “foreign” land – my new home in Scotland!) I enjoyed especially every moment shared with my grandparents and I hope to engrave in my memory the times shared with them. From going to the beach with my family, to hospital visits with my grandma… all of it will be missed and I looked forward to re-living it again.
Another amazing part of my trip was that I could visit, at last, MACHUPICCHU! Machupicchu is one of the “Seven Wonders of the world” and I had never been able to go before. It is in the City of Cusco and it is just incredible, you should definitely visit it one day! Not only was the place breath-taking, but I travelled with my older brother, my best travel buddy (we’re in the picture above).
Those two weeks were so strangely joyful and sad at the same time. I could not help thinking I had to make the most of each day because those two weeks would come to an end soon.
The first week back to Scotland was quite challenging. I was hit again by loneliness and feeling a bit lost. I missed my family so much and the feeling of not belonging struck me hard. I am so thankful for my friends and my church family that received me with open arms and helped me to feel welcome again. Starting university and going back to study also helped to ease my feelings and reminded me of the great opportunity that I have to be here again and to able to study.
This experience has helped me to realise once more how hard it can be to be an international student and all the ups and downs that come with it. My friend, if you feel lonely and think nobody understands, please know you are not alone. Behind the smiles, people are looking for a friend like you that could understand them too. We all need a friend, when we’re so far from home.