or the moment you become a stranger to your home town (based on my experience of moving from Russia to the UK at the age of 11)
Now. This is the moment of a big change in your life. You are just a teenager and you don't really pay much attention to the decision making. You barely even realise that once you're out - it will get harder and harder to come back...
You pack the bags, cry because you will miss your friends, put music on and leave to the airport. While sitting on a plane with your parents you start to get a bit nervous, confused but in a way, kind of excited. Everything is happening so quickly but you are still clueless of what is waiting ahead of you. The language barrier? NO. What will be the hardest thing of all is the mentality.
Plunging into school you become aware that people you are surrounded by are kids like you, but for them you are a bit of a stranger. Going through a bit of the universal school experience we see in movies that includes: bullying - harsh teenage style of entertainment, boy and girl problems, friendships etc. You start to notice the differences in humour, the way you are educated, the topics you talk about with teachers in lessons, even the way you treat your teachers and the way they treat you. I secretly started being proud of the way the school was.
I hated the UK, every part of it. I always wanted to come back and every time I would leave back from the holidays, I would cry like there is no tomorrow. I hated going to school, hated my classmates, hated english, the food, the rules...
Finally, I got into boarding school for girls. I never wanted to apply there but I did and soon enough I was on my way to Kent. I did not want to accept the fact that my parents will actually leave me there, on my own, crying every tear out. How can they? After all they love me and will listen to my decisions. Well... Of course I was left there, it was a good school. Fine. Trying to look happy so that no one comes up to me to help lift up my mood (because yes, I still hated everyone). Shy, quiet and foreign haha.
Turns out, you can get used to anything. Of course it can take longer for some than the others but it happens. Unfortunately, I didn't get to the end of the adaptation to my new habitat, I changed schools after 3 years. (The experience of a boarding school deserves a separate story).
Another school for girls but at least you live at home and... in LONDON. I am finally getting used to this. The humour is getting to me, the topics for conversations are so interesting and different, people sound so passionate about things around the world. You can freely talk about politics and everyone will be up to date and have their opinions. The news are always brought up everyday and you know what is going on. There are constantly new opportunities. In general the city starts to grow on you. So liberal, welcoming, supportive, nice, easy to get around, (expensive) but so free. (Especially in contrast to some other places).
On my gap year I liked everything about living in London. I made such good friends, met so many interesting people, got so much independence about my own life, got a job to get a full feeling of living.
If I used to go 'home' almost every holiday for the entire time, I started doing it less. My main concern for going back was now my friend, my dog and my relatives. Each time I would go back, I would feel more and more out of place. My 'home' was starting to look different to me as if I was asleep before. As I was slowly waking up and paying attention to the world around me I felt sad, depressed and disappointed. The conversations with the people from where I was from were now nothing compared to the ones I have in the country I moved to. The fun was starting to become equally exciting. Everything was starting to change. I never believed that I would like UK when I grow up but here it is, I like UK. I didn't want to hate on my hometown and I don't necessarily, I just feel sad when I compare it. It feels like it is years behind, people are always miserable and angry, I always felt angry when I was going back home, I didn't enjoy interacting with anyone any longer. I was waiting to go back to London. After all, people started to see me as a stranger in my own town where I spent most of my time in. Starting to get lost in translation, disagreements in politics, issues in society etc.
University, finally, the best step in my life. I absolutely love university. So much fun and interesting stuff you can do. Now I know for sure, I would go back to my country only when I really need to. Being at University made me realise how much I actually LOVE London (my university is not actually in London). The relationship with parents becomes better, you yourself become better and more interesting. If I stopped wanting to go home to London, then what can I say about going back to Russia?
It is amazing to feel so good about living somewhere. I am now on my way of getting my citizenship and I thank my parents for making me go through all this hell to get here, where I am now.
(P.S. this is not a patriotic story, I would happily try and live in many other countries for some time)