I am the daughter abroad. I’ve wanted to go explore what the world has to offer ever since I could remember. The thought process always revolved around only having my parents and one sister back in the states (and my artist uncle in Hawaii), so it’s not like there was such a huge family to miss.
I’ve learned a lot during my six months abroad so far. One of those things is the importance, and value of family. This isn’t to say that I didn’t appreciate my family before; quite the contrary, we’ve always been extremely close. I tell my mom everything besides what’s going on in my love life, my dad didn’t miss a single tennis tournament of mine growing up, and Maya has been my best friend since I was born.
However, being here has given me a new perspective. When I was in Boston for three years, which was still plenty far away from the three of them, I lost touch a little bit. I was so wrapped up in my college life; juggling three organizations, classes, a part-time job, on top of a really active social life. I usually sent my mom texts daily; talked on the phone every few days, but I caught myself brushing her off, not responding to her texts when I saw them. My dad would always be in the background listening in on our phone conversations, and I know my mom always kept him updated, so why bother reaching out to him?
Then there was my sister. My self-proclaimed best friend that I made close to no effort to speaking to. It’s strange how I feel closer to her now that I’m across the Atlantic than I did while I was still in the US. I’m 7 hours ahead, and yet, I actively try to send my love daily and keep up with what’s going on.
As advice to anyone going abroad for an extended period of time; whether you’re close to your family back home or not:
Don’t isolate yourself. Your family is your backbone regardless of where you might be. Time difference, though a slight obstacle, shouldn’t come in between maintaining your relationships. Being in a new city, new country, new continent, can be rather daunting. And while sometimes I get sad as I realize I’m likely never going to live in a close proximity to my family again, my heart feels full of warmth when I hear my mom’s voice or see my dog’s face on my phone’s little screen.
So I guess all of this is to say that being the daughter abroad has turned out to be different than what I expected when I dreamt of this many years ago. Yes, I’m independent and traveling and going on adventures, but simultaneously, my love for my family has grown to pass the limits that a country’s borders might place.