The Ones You Leave Behind I.
This is the first article of a two-part series. When you were leaving your hometown or the place where you lived before coming to Wageningen, you left people behind: friends, family and colleagues. The other side of the same coin is that you meet new people in your new hometown. However, when coming to Wageningen you can be almost certain that the paths of you and your new friends will depart soon: One of you is leaving for the internship, thesis or due to their graduation. In this article, I will look at the situation when leaving the beloved ones behind.
Leaving as part of a new beginning
Leaving home or the place where you might have lived for quite some time, is always an adventure. You literally leave your comfort zone. This does not only mean that you leave behind the environment like the streets, the food corners, the cafes and your favourite parks to go for a run, but also the people that were part of your life.
Yet, leaving all these familiar places and people behind is also the start of a new beginning. Often, it is the excitement to discover unfamiliar environments and meet different, fascinating people that drives us out of the cosy comfort zones. Leaving beloved ones behind is the beginning of a new adventure and both is indispensably connected. It would be difficult to move with all your friends and family to a new place, wouldn’t it?
A new beginning is not erasing the old
Yet, leaving your place and your people, does not mean that it is all gone. It might not sound surprising, but remembering this, might be a uplifting thought in tough times, for example when you’re homesick. For example, I am so very happy to know that the lovely garden of my parents will be there whenever I get back to the place where I grew up. My mom can still make my favourite dish. My family as well as my friends from my hometown will always be there to support me, no matter how far I am away from home. We will always celebrate the same traditions, we can still have legendary nights together and we will drink the same beer. You will realise, when you are going back home, not much changed – often it is just your view on things that changed, since new experiences change you.
Memories, atmospheres and places stay where they were and the feeling of friendship and the relationships also survive long distances.
Also in Maastricht, the city in the south of the Netherlands where I used to live before, most of the cafés, the extravagant atmosphere and the weird dialect of the people were still present when I visited that little town lately. And, last but not least, leaving the train station in Berlin and wandering around in the partly shabby streets of the capital, will always give me the same, warm feeling and sense of home away from home. Memories, atmospheres and places stay where they were and the feeling of friendship and the relationships also survive long distances. Another pro: It is always beautiful to have your friends visiting to create new memories and stories together.
Know where to go back to
What does this all come down to? Maybe I can visualise this by a little anecdote. When travelling through the UK, after helping a friend moving out and on our way back home, we spent a night in a rather fancy, utterly British, very beautiful old castle. It was a happy coincidence to find that place and to put it bluntly, we decreased the average age immensely.
In the morning, having typical English breakfast, an elderly gentlemen approached us and was very interested in our story. How come that we were in the UK in the middle of nowhere with a fully packed little German car? After telling him the story of moving back to Germany, he contemplated for a while before making a statement that became kind of my life-mantra: “It is nice to travel, to live abroad, to be an adventurer when you know where your anchor lies.”
Again, this sounds so simple, but the truth and reassurance behind the statement becomes clear when you think about it in terms of a metaphor: You can safely sail through your life-long adventure as long as you know where to go back to. The anchor does not need to be a place like home, but it can be people, a feeling, a certain atmosphere.
It’s about adding, not losing
Leaving sounds like losing, but this is not the case. You keep your memories, friends and places and while traveling, you add new exciting stories, good friends and valuable experiences. The next article in this series will be about the things you add and the way you gain. But before, please think about where or what your anchor is and use this knowledge wisely in dark times.