Working away from home, away from home

In the Romanian language, there is a word presumed to have no accurate translation in any other language. This word is “dor” and the closest translation one could attempt in English is the idea of “missing someone/something so deeply to the point where it is heartbreaking to be away from it”.

Romanians are generally very proud of this word because we believe it says something about who we are as people, loving, caring and profoundly attached to our family and roots. I, too, have found no better word to describe my feelings for the homes I have left behind.

I am writing this post while on a train to Linköping from Gothenburg where I have been on rotation for the past 2 months. While telling a friend of mine about my rotation, which has been my first one away from my home department, he pointed out that, considering my situation, a rotation outside of my home department would not just be an instance of working away from one home, but multiple homes. Of course, my home department is in Linköping, a city that as of August 2019 has become my home, but I am originally from Bucharest, Romania, where I have lived for most of my life until I headed to university. At the age of 18, I found myself alone as I settled in Bristol, United Kingdom. Four years later, I was boarding a plane to Sweden, a week before starting my first job as a graduate at Saab.

I am aware that compared to others, having three places you call home is not a lot but my experience so far has taught me how to adapt, how to push myself to pursue ambitions and how to transform any place into a home. Perhaps surprisingly, I have found that adapting to a new place is possibly the easiest part of this entire moving experience. Learning how things work and getting comfortable in a new place comes with time and a lot of patience. Eventually, you will wake up one day not feeling like an outsider in this strange new place that you are slowly getting used to calling home.

View of the Wills Memorial Building, University of Bristol, UK

What is, however, the most difficult part about having more than one home is handling being away from all of them. When you find yourself reminiscing about the places you love that you left behind, one question inevitably comes to mind: What am I doing here? Finding the motivation for leaving everything you have and know behind and having all the people that you hold dear thousands of kilometers away from you can be quite challenging at times. When it becomes hard to cope, you need to find a way to remind yourself that it is all worth it. Sometimes you just have to trust that, somehow, life always finds a way to reward you for stepping out of your comfort zone and having the courage to challenge yourself and start fresh.

For those of you who are going through this, I can only give you one piece of advice: always try to find things to look forward to when you feel overwhelmed - a call with family or friends, having coffee with a coworker, baking your favourite cake, a new episode of your favourite TV series, a walk in the city to your newly discovered favourite spot. Finding contentment when going through such a big change in your life is not easy but sometimes it can come from very small things. You just need to be open for whatever comes and accept that, as the old saying goes, after every storm comes the rainbow. Finally, keep rewarding yourself, even for your smallest wins, because you know very well you deserve it.