Traveling to France has become the dream of my life and the perfect way to escape a reality that I didn’t like. During my adolescence I spent hours imagining a life in a place other than Colombia, far from violence, instability and even heartbreak. I started studying French when I was fifteen and for two years my whole life converted to this other language; however, when I started studying in University, I put French aside and abandoned the idea of leaving my country. The routine and comfort of the known began slowly numbing my desire to migrate far away and I settled for what I already had.
It was only a year after finishing University when I came face to face with the reality of unemployment and lack of opportunity, that the possibility of traveling and gaining more experience abroad became not just a dream and a longing, but a necessity. I returned to my French studies, guided by a purpose that exceeded mere pleasure, and the journey slowly began to take shape.
It took my two years to reach the level of language proficiency that was required, save enough for my first 2 months in France and carefully select the University and master’s degree for which I was willing to spend the next two years away from my family and friends.
It was very difficult to finalize the trip and at times I thought of forgetting all about this plan and staying in Colombia. Everything was expensive, the paperwork was delayed and I felt like I was running around in circles and getting nowhere. However, the possibility of ensuring a better future ended up overpowering everything else and on September 8 2019, I left Colombia to start this new adventure.
Now, whoever said that living in Europe is like floating on a bed of roses musnt have faced what it means to be a migrant from a “third world” country in the “first world.” Coping with loneliness was nothing compared to unemployment and accumulating the debt of a millionaire. The University was not what I expected. What the University sold us – an education with the best professor and facilities that would go beyond expectations – made me realize that the Colombian education competes perfectly with the level of Europeans. In short, to really enjoy this experience, I had to leave my expectations behind.
As a woman, I certainly had never experienced the freedom that I felt here – the freedom to move as I please and do what I want without fear and without prejudice, freedom to sit in a bar or cafe without being approached by a fool who believes I’m alone because I’m looking for the company of a man, freedom to discover what I like and dislike without social pressure. Above all, I enjoyed freedom to be on my own and learned to love myself, even my demons.
If you ask me if leaving the country is worth it, the answer is YES, without a doubt; not only for study or work but for the possibility of reinventing yourself, for being who you want to be and for living as you want to live.