Towards the end of my internship in Thailand, I started to reflect more and more about what this whole experience means to me. And it all came down to feeling at home – I wanted to explore what home means (to me) and this is what I reflected on:
I was born in Victoria, but by the age of 4 my family and I moved to Mexico City and I grew up there until I was 15. My mother was my comfort, my safety, and my world during the years I grew up in Mexico. I dont remember ever learning English because my mother would only speak in Spanish to me so I learned Spanish very quickly, with me being so young and it being spoken all around me. Now, being able to speak both languages fluently, I often wonder which language I can best express myself in and I automatically lean towards Spanish, I hold a special place in my heart for the Spanish language, I love it so much. When people ask me where I’m from, the meme of the lady with all the mathematical equations in her head is a good example of what goes on in mine because legally I’m Canadian, since I was born in Canada, but in my heart, I’m Mexican because I grew up learning everything in Mexico City during the most formative years of my life. Biologically, I’m half Canadian and half Mexican, since my mother was from Mexico while my father was from Canada. Of course I don’t give this long response when people ask me where I’m from – usually I just say where I’m currently living, and if people are interested then I give them more details of “where I’m from”.
I’ve lived in Canada since I moved back from Mexico City. I lived in Red Deer for about 6 years and now I’ve been living in Victoria to attend University. So the amount of years I’ve lived in two places in my life is almost coming up to half and half. I often associate home with these two countries: Mexico and Canada. There is more to it than just the years I’ve spent living in these two places: I have family living in both countries; I feel familiar, comfortable and safe in both countries; and I know the language, the food, the cultural customs of both. It’s all familiar, cozy and they are both my beautiful and unique home.
But now a new country comes into play. Beautiful Thailand. After living in Thailand for 7 months, I can’t help but feel this country is now also my home. Of course I am not and do not consider myself Thai in any aspect whatsoever, I barely know the language, the culture and everything that makes up Thailand. I know very little Thai (although I feel very proud of being able to count to a hundred 😀 and some other basics) but I have felt truly lucky, blessed and extremely fortunate to have had the experience of being able to immerse myself in Thai lifestyle and culture. Being surrounded by the language forced me to continuously practice it (and I loved it). I made friends with the kindest, most considerate humans ever who have taught me so much about their culture, their individual lifestyles, and their ways of viewing life. These humans are forever in my heart, my friends, and are also a home for me.
At times it was very surprising for me to find similarities between Mexican culture and Thai culture: the “Thai” way of showering brought me back to when we would run out of running water in Mexico so my mom and I had to shower with buckets of water: a jicarazos is how we call it in Mexico and I really don’t know another way to describe it; a cupful of water (suggestion from google) – but I’m sure you can imagine it. The physical touch, something that I’ve been missing a lot since moving to Canada. Not everybody is okay with hugging all over the world, but there is something different about expressing your love to others through physical touch because even though there are language barriers that can isolate us from connecting with others, I find body language to be an honest and genuine way to express my appreciation and love to them, in other words; I ensure and recognize the bond that is being created. Hugging and kissing is just a basic feature in Mexico (and many other places) for human language, and as I grew up with that it’s just natural and special for me.
Words aren’t enough to express how much I love Thailand. I’ve simply fallen in love with everything about it. Reflecting on this question: what does home mean to me? Perhaps it’s belonging somewhere? When I think of home, I think of all the memories I have growing up in Mexico City: good and bad. But in the last few years now, Canada also comes to mind when I think of home – and I think it all comes down to the connection I have with the people in these places. When I was younger this connection was solely my mother, maybe one other family member and the friends I had – but mainly my mother was my world. Now, these connections have extended: anywhere I go the people that smile at me as I walk towards them fill my heart with love, the people that hug me, make me feel loved and allow me to love them are my home. My home has now expanded beyond a single country, beyond culture similarities, language, common background and ways of living. Thailand, especially Bangkok, is now a home for me.
Thank you for reading 🙂