Alright, now that I’ve successfully announced to the world that I don’t have a stable cultural identity, I think I can use my misfortune to my advantage. I may feel a bit out of place even in my own home, but this also means that I am a grade-A traveler. Allow me to explain.
When a person is truly attached to one place - say, they grew up in Kansas City with their friends and family - it is much more difficult for them to adjust to travel. True, they might be in awe of travel’s spectacle for the first few days, but it isn’t long before a pummeling homesickness takes over. I miss my family, of course, but since I’ve had experience living in different places, I never feel completely strange, even if I am in a strange place. Perhaps this is the answer that I’m looking for - perhaps home, for me, is travel.
In my French class, we are studying French language and grammar through French film. The most recent film that we watched is called L’auberge espagnole, or The Spanish Inn. Twenty-four year old French Xavier studies with ERASMUS (an EU student exchange program) in Barcelona, and he lives in an apartment with several other young people from all over Western Europe. You can imagine the misadventures they get into, especially with five different languages flying about. (“La fuck??” says the British Wendy in surprise, not understand the French word for “la FAC,” or university.) The film is funny, sexy, witty, and overall fun to watch.
I write about this because next year, I’ll be studying with several local and other foreign students at the University of Cambridge in England. Saying that I’m psyched would be an understatement. Xavier, from the film, puts it best when he arrives in Barcelona.
"When you first arrive in a new city, nothing makes sense. Everythings unknown, virgin… After you’ve lived here, walked these streets, you’ll know them inside out. You’ll know these people. Once you’ve lived here, crossed this street 10, 20, 1000 times… it’ll belong to you because you’ve lived there. That was about to happen to me, but I didn’t know it yet."
Perhaps living abroad with strangers will finally force me to find my cultural identity and reconcile the Ozarks Kasia and the Polish Kasia. Once again, Xavier sums it up:
“I’m French, Spanish, English, Danish. I’m not one, but many. I’m like Europe, I’m all that. I’m a real mess.”
I can’t wait to learn what he means.