So yes, that happened. It’s something I’ve been dreaming of for many years. After my first visit in 2015, I always knew I was gonna come back at some point. To see more of this amazing country. To catch up with my wonderful friends. To simply travel. And while I never really considered actually living in Mexico as a realistic option, I somehow always had it in the back of my head.
So when I got the chance to go there for 6 months, I took it without much hesitation. I figured out a topic for my master thesis that would not only allow, but somehow require me to be here. I booked a flight. I told my friends. They were mostly excited, partially confused. I told my parents. They slightly freaked out. But I was determined to go. I made all the arrangements. And then, when everything was set in stone and I was about to leave, I slightly freaked out. Moving again? Alone? To Mexico? Why on earth would I do that?!
Well, I figured out a lot of whys. So I went. And here I am now. Sitting in my apartment in Playa del Carmen, sipping fresh coconut water and hoping my skin will recover from today’s overdose of sun. It’s still quite surreal to me myself, but I’ve been here for 10 days now and am once again surprised about how normal it all seems already. I already feel strangely at home in my little casita, my fridge is packed with local fruit and veggies, my daily routine is all figured out. I found people to work out and go on weekend trips with, I know how to get around, I have “my” yoga place. Long story short: I live in Mexico now.
It somehow seems to have worked out quite effortlessly this time. And yes, this country is indeed amazing and there is so much to see and do. But apart from and despite of all of that, it’s hard as f*ck. And since I somehow made it my mission to share both the ups and downs of this nomad life of mine, I want to use this post to explain the difficulties I’m having.
Well, where do I start? I was already super lost and overwhelmed when I first came to Mexico. This country was the first and only one up until now that ever gave me a culture shock. It was better this time. Maybe I was already prepared. Maybe the contrast isn’t that strong because I’m in a pretty touristic place. Maybe it’s because I’m not as immersed in the local culture as I actually have my own sh*t to do and live by myself instead of staying with friends. I don’t know. Either way, it’s fine.
But still, I live in a country on the other side of the world where I’m most obviously a foreigner. Where as soon as I leave the touristic center, I immediately stick out. Where I do understand the local language to some extent, but can by no means express myself as I would want to. Where I don’t have anyone I’m close to within reach. Where despite all technology, it’s difficult to find a time to talk to friends and family back home (and by “home” I mean Europe at this point).
At times, I seriously question why I constantly choose to put myself into situations that I don’t feel equipped to handle. Why I cannot simply, for once, allow myself to be comfortable for a while. Be in a familiar place, surrounded by people I know or can at least talk to without a dictionary. Just live a normal life, one that doesn’t challenge me concerning f*cking EVERYTHING, including the most basic things such as where to shop for food or how to get from A to B.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy to be here. It’s a wonderful, fascinating country that I’m infinitely grateful to have the opportunity to explore. Plus: I’m learning more here within a week than in an entire semester at university – both in terms of tourism and Spanish. Obviously, it’s exciting to move to another continent. Of course, it feels amazing when you realize that you are actually able to get by in yet another language and yet another country. Without a doubt, exploring the culture and beauty of a new place is fascinating. But we tend to romanticize all of this, especially if it’s someone else who experiences it. What you don’t see on people’s Instagram profiles is the price they pay for living this seemingly so amazing life. And I’m not talking about money.
I’m referring to what it really costs to move to foreign country, as wonderful as it may be. It means that you leave everything you know and love behind. It means that you feel out of place most of the time. It means that, at least at first, you will be lost and confused more than anything else. It means that you have to reinvent yourself, to fit into some sort of structure that you first have to figure out, that you have to rewrite and tell your story for the millionth time, that you need to start building your life from scratch again, piece by piece. It means that you have to make the effort to turn strangers into friends (good luck if you’re an introvert or don’t properly speak the local language, like it’s the case for me right now). Or that you will have to live with only having brief acquaintances, people to pass some time with without creating any deeper connection. It means that you will be lonely at times, because no one will be there to see what you see and feel what you feel. It means that you will try to share your life with your loved ones, but may realize that no photo or story can ever convey how something really is. It means that you will lead a different life in a different world, one that the people closest to your heart cannot be a considerable part of, just as you will be missing out on their lives in their world. And it also means constant reconsideration of everything you do and are, which is a tiring and difficult process.
So no, it’s not all sunshine and happiness. I think it’s important to understand that. Every lifestyle comes with its own battles. We just have to decide which ones we consider worth fighting. Maybe, one day, I’m not gonna be willing to pay this price anymore. For now, I still am. And I swear, living in Mexico is worth every Peso. 😉