I'm sure we've all played a game or two of hopscotch growing up. You know, that game where you draw a bunch of squares and numbers on the street, throw a pebble and hop and jump to wherever it lands. My experience of this childhood game has been a little different. It's almost as if the Gods were playing hopscotch with us. Drawing a bunch of squares and a bunch of numbers onto a map, throwing a pebble and having us hop and jump to another country. At least that's what it felt like.
I've moved countries 5 times in my lifetime. Each move came at different points in my life, with its own sets of obstacles and excitement. When we were younger, my siblings and I had no reservations about these moves. It's only when we got older that the crossovers got harder and more difficult. Each move feels as though you've left a little part of you behind.
There's the logistical nightmare to start off with; the packing and unpacking and doing it all over again. My mother would always insist on packing all the furniture each time as opposed to getting new furniture. “It makes the house feel like our own,” she would say, and I couldn’t agree more. Sleeping on my bed, eating at my dinner table and lazing on my couch made the new house we would move into felt comfortingly familiar.
There's also the fear of the unknown. A million questions pop into your head. How will you find your way around? How will you make new friends? What will your new school be like? Will they have the same brands of your favorite treats?
The first few weeks, (and months) are tough. You're confused, worried, exhausted and downright scared. But the one thing that has always been a constant, for me at least, is that it only gets better with time. You find your way, you make new friends and you discover a whole world of edible delicacies you never knew existed. I've made friends that have endured the tests of time and distance. I've experienced cultures beyond my understanding from a young age. The one part about moving that never ceases to amaze me is how quickly the new country becomes "home" and the former country becomes "a place I used to live".
I particularly remember the move from Malaysia to Melbourne as being the hardest one. We moved away (from a place that was and always will be home), to an unknown destination halfway across the world. I was all of 17; fresh out of school and incredibly distraught at the mere thought of leaving my childhood friends to join college, let alone a new country. So I did what any emotional teenager of that age would do; I cried, stomped my feet and threw a tantrum all through boarding until I got on that plane. It wasn’t until I joined college and made new friends that I realized it wasn’t all that bad. The key is to develop lasting friendships and to have friends that turn into family to make sure you keep your sanity.
What I'm trying to say here is; there's always two sides to a coin. Moving is hard and painful even in the best of times, but it's also exhilarating and exciting at its worst. And I wouldn't have it any other way.
This article was first published on 22 July 2017