What it feels like to change up your life and move to a new city
I’ve heard a lot of people say this. “I wish I could just move to a new country, get a new life, a new job, become a new person.”
Well, what’s stopping you?
For many, the answer is family, or financial setbacks. I was lucky enough to go study in a foreign country when I was 18, and I haven’t stopped moving since. It is so exhilarating to create a brand new life, somewhere you’ve never been before. It reminds me of a quote from the (excellent) film, Kill your Darlings:
“I love first times. I want my whole life to be composed of them. Life is only interesting if life is wide.”
For me, that is entirely true. I’m only good at beginnings. I crave the excitement of new cities and the rush of new friends, new jobs, new apartments. It makes me incredibly happy to know that not only am I traveling, I am actually living in so many places most people only dream about. By staying for a few years instead of a few weeks, I get the true, full, local experience. Maybe I’m an adrenaline junkie, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. The pandemic has made it pretty hard, and I have been stuck in Paris for longer than I wanted to be, but I’m trying to wait and imagine the adventures I’m going to have once this is all over.
But let’s start from the beginning. For the first eighteen years of my life, I never left Lebanon. I have never travelled, ever. Then, on a day in August, I got on a 14h flight to Montreal to attend McGill University. The culture shock was intense, but I grew so much in my year in Canada. I survived the Canadian winter. I saw the Niagara falls covered in ice. I spent half the year in Toronto, falling in love with the bustle of the city.
Then I took a semester off college and got on a plane to Nîmes, a small city in the south of France known for its incredibly well-preserved Roman architecture. I lived on a friend’s couch, took care of her cat, and walked around ancient, windy streets I called home for a few months. Laying on the floor of my friend’s apartment, enjoying the sunshine with her cat cuddled up beside me, is one of my most treasured memory.
After that, I moved to Paris to study Art History. I’ve been in Paris three years now. I’ve got a complicated relationship with this city, probably because half my time here has been ruined by lockdowns and curfews. But the art. The art in Paris is surreal. The buildings are surreal. I’ve always said, Paris is too beautiful to be lived in. Getting drunk on the banks of the Seine feels like a privilege. Although it is far from perfect, I have enjoyed my time in Paris, since it has taught me how to deal with adult problems. I’ve been homeless here. I started seeing a psychiatrist here. But I’ve also met incredible people, been to Versailles, had my first threesome. I have lived.
For the first year, at least. Damn pandemic.
The next stop for me is London. I have received an unconditional offer to study Art Business at Sotheby’s Institute. If everything goes well, with the world healing slowly, I’ll be walking around Bloomsbury this time next year. After three years of being in one city, the itch to move is back. I want to see Camden, and Notting Hill, and take a selfie with the Crown Jewels. I want to get a British accent. Then maybe I’ll move to L.A. and become a movie star. Who knows?
Life is only interesting if life is wide.
It is exhausting, packing up your entire life and moving across oceans. But it is also so rewarding. Every time I walk off a plane, I get the opportunity to start a new life. Meet new people. I have been given so many chances. I have so many stories to tell. Most importantly, I am happy with the way I am living: as a world citizen. A true one. Even with a shitty passport (thanks Lebanon!) and a world pandemic, I have hope that in the future, I will have the opportunity to continue living around the world, dreaming wide awake.