On Living Abroad 


It’s been 2 years and 3 months since I’ve lived in Vancouver now. It is an amazing place to live and I am so lucky to live here, but it’s probably taken me about this long to really feel like I could call this place my home. Ever since I was about 16 years old, I knew I wanted to move away for college and part of me didn’t think I would ever move back home after.

I originally wanted to move to NYC for undergrad, but chickened out when application time came. I ended up starting my adult life in San Diego, and when I was 22 I moved off to NYC for graduate school, following my dream. Shortly before moving to NYC, I found my soulmate, and he would end up taking me on a path I had never foreseen, a wonderful and exciting one. And after 4 years in NYC, I ended up here in beautiful BC, the place he was lucky enough to have called home his whole life. Some of my patients ask me why a girl from Southern California is living up here, as if it seems crazy… and I have to convince them how beautiful it is here and how great of a place it is to live. Sometimes I wonder if I’m trying to convince them or myself.

But I truly do love it here. Up here, the air is clean, nature is lush, the skies are bluer, and I am constantly in awe of the natural beauty surrounding me. The city is vibrant, people are active and healthy, and there are dogs everywhere (I LOVE that part)!

What’s made it so hard for me to call this place home isn’t the lack of beauty or endless amount of things to do… What truly makes a place home, is that feeling of comfort that you get when you’re with those who make you feel safe, understood, welcome, and for lack of a better word, loved. To me, what I just described is the true meaning of family. And for me, family can extend beyond blood relatives.

I have met some pretty incredible people here and am lucky to have been taken in and accepted so quickly by Matt’s family. It is only now, 2 years and 3 months later, that I can look back and realize it’s been a while since I’ve cried thinking of how much I miss my family or friends that I left in Chino Hills, San Diego, or New York and how hard it is to “make a family” out here.

But today, I cried again. My mom and dad are visiting Vancouver and I got to see videos my mom had taken of my 10 week old nephew (who lives in San Francisco) who I’ve been lucky enough to have seen TWICE before he was 7 weeks old. I watched at least a dozen short videos of him cooing, smiling, or even just laying there observing his surroundings. Matt reminded me we had to get going so I could prepare for my next day at work but all I wanted to do was sit there and watch those videos… because I realized those videos would be the closest I would get to holding, touching, smelling, or kissing my baby nephew and I don’t want him to grow up and miss it all. I told Matt after we left my parent’s hotel how that felt and I just started crying. This time I let myself cry, and didn’t feel ashamed or try to stop myself from thinking that I should be over it by now.

I realized it makes me human to feel this way, and although living abroad seems amazing and adventurous, sometimes it hurts. So my message to myself after all of this is to cherish each moment with those you love because when we leave this earth, all people will have of us is the memories we made with them.

xo,

Juliana