“Where did you meet?”
They ask me.
And I see their faces turn into the heart-shaped eyes emoticon… romantic, exotic, interesting … in short, a dream!
Two young travellers, Italian and Australian, leave their countries to explore the world. They meet in a village on the Mekong River, fall in love and find themselves living together in London.
She decides to follow him to his distant land, just for love!
And to continue along this romantic streak I want you to imagine me as a fairy tale hero and picture another woman who leaves everything for love: the Little Mermaid!
Like me, she leaves her world without thinking too much about the consequences; the differences and the distances (physical, cultural and emotional) she will encounter. She simply follows her heart and loses, for a moment, her mind.
Like me, she is young and restless and allows passion and enthusiasm to carry her away.
Like me, she must overcome some obstacles but, at least in the Disney version, the story has a happy ending and they lived happily ever after.
Despite my happy ending (after almost 30 years I am still here 😉) I think it’s time to reflect on some of these obstacles and to show the world the other side of the coin, revealing what is hidden behind the closed doors of migrants for love!
Let’s start from the beginning, when the thoughts are first forming in our mind and we ask ourselves whether we should leave on not leave, follow or not follow, go or stay put.
In my case I acted as impulsively as ever and didn’t spend much time thinking about it. I decided that leaving was not a problem, I had already left other times and I loved living abroad; following was not a problem, on the contrary, for once I had someone to share my experience with; going was inevitable and staying put not an option.
Reality took me by surprise and after the first six months spent trying to make sense of my new life I began to realise that it would not be as easy as I thought.
Arriving in a new country to follow my beloved certainly had some practical advantages, included a house in a quiet neighbourhood, but there were a number of disadvantages that I had not taken into consideration. First of all that this house was in a very quiet neighbourhood but most of all it was in a neighbourhood I did not choose.
Following your partner in his home country means arriving in an unknown country, alongside those who grew up in that country.
It means having to start from scratch, while your partner is working on picking up where he left off and discovering a new city, through the eyes of who has already discovered everything.
From here onward I started to develop a number of issues, a variety of discomforts caused, strangely enough, by the fact that I was not alone.
Suddenly I was no longer “Barbara”, but “Nigel’s girlfriend”. I didn’t have a job and I was financially dependent on Nigel. Nobody thought of inviting me to have a coffee alone … because I was not alone and therefore I probably didn’t need company.
I certainly had not taken all this into consideration when, after our short love story on the banks of the Mekong and letters full of promises and passion we decided we were made for each other and I chose to follow my heart and throw myself to the other side of the world.
To be continued…
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