I just realized that it’s been four years now since I graduated. I also realized that I’ve spent half of this period abroad. The other half I was at home – that would be Italy, even though I’m not that sure now where home is.
Six months in Canada plus one year and a half in the Netherlands make two years living somewhere else. In a place different from where I was born and grew up. A place where they speak a language different from my native one.
One, English, is a language that I have studied and learned. The other one, Dutch, is a language that I am, or was, trying to learn.
What’s the consequence of that? Does the fact of translating oneself from one place to the other (and from one language to the other) result in some kind of loss?
It happens, when you move, that you lose things. You thought that CD was in that box, but it isn’t. Or the corkscrew is not with the other kitchen stuff anymore (true story). Can this also happen to people as it happens to things? Is it possible that you lose part of yourself in the moving?
Maybe something does really get lost and you find yourself in a world in-between, not belonging anymore to the place you’re coming from, but not yet part of the place you came to.
A friend of mine was telling me that when she goes back to Brazil with her husband to visit family and friends, they say “Here’s the Dutch couple!”. But they’re Brazilian. Or they’re not anymore, after living in the Netherlands for many years? But if they’re not Brazilian, are they Dutch?
In between worlds for me means also feeling in between languages. You translate your thoughts into words, but in which language?
In this confusion, I find myself thinking in one language, but speaking in another one. I sometime watch TV in English, read the Dutch subtitles and make comments in Italian about the program.
And it goes also the other way around, as new words of a new language start slowly to have a meaning.
I was at Rotterdam Central Station some time ago, and they announced something about the high-speed train to Paris. The announcement was given first in Dutch, then in French and finally in English. To my surprise, when they gave the announcement in English what I thought was “They said that already!”. I had understood the part in Dutch almost without even realizing. It felt strange. I guess the weird and guttural noises did not sound that foreign anymore.
I don’t think that there’s only a loss then, if there really is one, in this confusion, in this in-betweenness. There’s for sure also something to gain in experiencing life in a different country and in a different language.
Moving from one place to the other, I’m not sure if I lost or gained something. Probably both things.
What I’m sure of is that I need a new corkscrew.