Michele left her country at the age of 10, thinking that she was going to come back in a few years. Things didn’t exactly worked out that way, and after four years in the USA, she moved to Vietnam. From there, Michèle decided to go as an exchange student in France, then came back to graduate in Vietnam, and now she is attending university in England.
Michelle sees the advantages and challenges of living abroad from a young age, and how this experience has impacted how she sees opportunities.
“I have no sense of belonging”
I was born in Chile, in a tiny town and because my family is from Chile, hence I consider myself from there. However, every time I talk to someone from my home time, I feel that I do not belong there anymore. It is a strange feeling; I have no sense of belonging, but also extremely liberating because I do not feel tied to a particular place.
With my family, I share the same language, culture, food that makes me feels great. But, I have also become flexible, open, and extremely connected to people very different than I am.
Travel and education
Moving from one place to another has left me with some knowledge gaps; there are certain subjects that I did not choose to learn at school. But on the other hand, I have also chosen the subjects that I was interested in.
The difficulties to be an international student
I find it challenging to adapt to the non-verbal communication aspect of the whole experience. I feel extremely connected to the Latin part of my country: kisses, touching, hugs, etc. and that physical contact that is so natural for us. I have the need for that contact, and sometimes this is not very welcoming for other cultures.
I have learned to change certain knowledge. For example, today, I don’t get lost, I explore. Which might be silly for some, but for me, it is connected to the adventure of traveling. Of course, I get lost, but at the end I always get something out of it!
Also, the chance to meet people from different countries has led me to see that stereotype exists only up until a certain degree, and then we all become just humans. I have developed into more accepting individual, and I love that!
Benefits of traveling
Because I was able to attend to an International School with excellent standards, I learned how to study and organize my agenda to perform well. Today, I attend to the University in England, and I can see the difference with other classmates who struggle with balance and organization.
Life and expectation
I do not expect long term, but I can probably tell you what I want and what I don’t want. I don’t wish to work in an office, or feel trapped in my job. On the other hand, I want to be involved with nature, with my organic vegetable garden, to be able to have a group of friends and colleagues around who can share projects and ideas. I want to find balance in my personal life in which I can enjoy my work, earn enough to live a comfortable life, and be able to travel.
As an expat kid, I feel extremely flexible, I see options, I am afraid of what is coming, but I also know that things change, and I feel I can do it!