Brooklyn (2015). A film I did not expect to speak to me, or better, show me, through a beautiful storytelling just how bittersweet the transition of an emigrant to an immigrant is. As I watched the movie, I travelled deep into the past remembering a younger version of myself and as I watched this young girl, I realized I was never able to explain to anyone who had ever asked just how my life abroad and away from family, felt like to me. This film, silently and with great depth was able to manifest the very feelings one goes through in a foreign place. It pierced right through me. Awakened feelings only certain situations bring out. But more importantly, this film reminded me that the process of moving into a new and unfamiliar place, no matter if it’s your first or hundredth time, remains the same. You will come out of the experience as a new person, more so in a slow and subtle way that only you will come to understand, rather than a big bang like some people imagine it to be. In the beginning it will feel as though you are so ill, often times wanting to die to free yourself from the enormous pain of homesickness, but time does heal I’ve learned. But you endure it. After a year or two, you discover a backbone you never thought you had, a fortitude that arose from learning how to live on your own away from what you have known, and learning to love this new foreign land as your own.

“You’ll feel so homesick you’ll want to die, and there’s nothing you can do about it apart from endure it; but you will and it won’t kill you. And one day, the sun will come out and you might not even notice straight away, it’ll be that faint, and then you’ll catch yourself thinking about something or someone who has no connection with the past, someone who’s only yours, and you’ll realize that this is where your life is.”

I’ve come to understand that we learn to endure great challenges in life. We change from these experiences, but change is anything but abrupt or forced; it tiptoes silently until one day we find ourselves happily welcoming a new day. I’ve experienced this myself, and I have grown to love this bittersweet journey, because even though I feel so lost and empty at first, I know I’ll be okay and will gradually be familiar with what was once the unknown.

Accustoming yourself with the unfamiliar is indeed a scary feeling. But it’s also a very exciting one with new discoveries. A new place can be anything you want it to be for yourself, or maybe you will discover that it does not fit you. The theme of love in this story is so much bigger than a simple love story of boy meets girl. It is not about a love triangle that some may think. It’s more than that. Perhaps the most heartbreaking thing is that in this circumstance, there is no right or wrong answer. The choices Eilis needs to make are part of growing up and knowing that making a choice entails leaving behind all the other possibilities of a life just as good. I think that every day we are faced with such decisions in life. Through the choices we make, we create they kind of life we are going to have. We make those choices ourselves, no one else does it for us, which is often the misconception when we lead unhappy and dissatisfied lives.

Everyone’s experience is different, but one thing is for sure; it changes you.

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Home to me is no longer a building structure or a country; it is an entire collection of memories of people I have met and will meet.

(Image: Athens, Greece – Copyright 2015 Sarah Kate Tampol)