When I saw my father at the airport of Lisbon, all of that went away, or big part of it. I suddenly felt like home, in that little and fucking disgusting airport of Lisbon (Portela, who knows and can compare with other airports, namely Schipol, knows what I am talking about), with that little sweet man that gave me life and educated me astonishingly well waiting for me at the arrivals' hall. I felt secure again. I could finally have a hug after such an exhausting (in every sense) day. I could finally say, face to face, “tive tantas saudades!!!”. When I got home, I had such good surprises: from my mom, who cleaned and decorated my room and even put a white dress laying on the bed and gave me the greatest welcoming; and from two of my absolute best friends, Vera and Alexandre, waiting for me (for hours, even though I was very late). I felt so loved! So protected and welcomed! Such a warmth! And such an immense feeling of belonging! I am so grateful for having the parents and family I have: all crazy in their own way, but undoubtedly THE BEST, always there for me at the worst times!
And then, finally, I could cry. I just needed to, cry it all out I cried so out loud, without any shame anymore. All I was repressing for the whole day, and the realization that yes, it has come to an end. This crying had in it a pinch of happiness, though; happiness for having this: after experiencing such an extraordinary year, having some of the people I love most in this world, waiting for me in the right same place I left. This crying quickly turned into laugh. And into hugs. And kisses. And friendship. Brotherhood. I would even say, love. We talked until late, we went to sleep with the feeling that not everything was talked through, but who cares, if we have all the time in the world. We woke up together, and laughed some more. Nothing really changed here, actually. Its all the same. We do the same things. We love each other the same way.
The second day, I was feeling so great. The same feeling I had on the 1st days in Amsterdam, even though I had been crying for leaving home. I went on the street, confident that I could conquer the whole world and do whatever I wanted to. I fell powerless for having the ownership of my life; of my body; of my mind. Somehow, I was enjoying this feeling of power and superiority, I can even say this will sound very bad but this is what I felt: better than anyone else I saw or heard around me; I just felt – specially from some conversations I occasionally heard, mainly from posh (the so known in portuguese “betinhos”) and spoiled and superficial people with nothing at all inside their heads – that this people are so limited and have so little to explore, that I was the one with who you can have an interesting conversation because I've been through it all. I felt like going there and shake them and say something, like wake up for life, stop being so stupid, stop saying so much stupid stuff, you don't know anything.
I was all day out and enjoying being in a totally different environment... again. Because, yes, I may have been living here for 21 years, but I never really saw the city, not only on a material level, but also the spirit, the ambiance, the vibe, the air Lisbon breathes, the so characteristic smell it has. I had such a nice feeling of re-discovery. Looking at the streets outside, and people talking in Portuguese instead of Dutch (like I was so used to, it was so familiar already, dutch was such a normal language to hear and read everyday so many times a day), and big adds on the street in Portuguese, and having to switch to portuguese-mode when talking to someone, saying “pode dizer-me por favor” instead “could you please tell me”, “desculpe” instead of “sorry”, saying “ok” with portuguese, rather than english, accent, and trying to put my mind off english-mode (didn't work, because I was feeling like Portuguese was my second language and sometimes I even had to stop to think about what I wanted to say).
Re-disconvering the beautiful nuances of my own language, as for example, the word “maravilhosa”. The word “maravilhosa” is maravilhosa, and I had never noticed it. Everything, every little thing around me, from the language (the most shocking) to the way the city is built and the way houses are different, and there is no more grachts (Amsterdam water cannels) anymore, but other things that don't exist in Amsterdam. It was like rediscovering something I already new, but with different eyes. Because, yes, the city, the places, the people may be the same. But from inside, I can not even put on words how much I changed. And how much, now, I take a closer look and appreciate it in a different way.
The only things that annoyed me - and then I thought "welcome to Portugal" - was the hard time one gets when trying to get things done; Internet installation, doctor's consultation or even asking a passport (since I'm going to Mozambique in September), it was really annoying, because I had to wait so much time, for things that could be done in 10 minutes, took hours because people are doing other things, talking on the phone, talking to friends, oh well, the TYPICAL PORTUGUESE INCOMPETENCE. But well... it's a part of the package, I was used to that before I went away and now I have to get used again, nothing really changed there either.
So, finally, and after having underestimated how good – in its own way – it would be to come back, I just accepted my Erasmus came to and end, and I'm glad to have had the opportunity to do so, and all good, spectacular, marvelous things and people (specially people!!!) that came along with it. I don't think any further reflections on my experience are really necessary. I pretty much wrote all about it on this blog (even though sometimes I was a bit careless, I tried to write most of it).
Even so, a last reflection on the positive impact this experience had on me and my life, today I can say the following:
- I am a better person; at least, I try to be, the best I can for the world and for others; I am far less egoistic
- I have such an improved relationship with my parents and close friends; but specially with my parents: I can now open my heart to them in a way I couldn't before, because somehow, and due to some past situations, I was angry inside – which brings me to my next point
- I stopped being mad inside, and not showing it; I just confronted myself at some point, and decided to internally forgive some things that happened in my life and that made me suffer at some point; I stopped having old resentments inside me. I decided it was time to start working in a more open relationship with my parents, for example (as mentioned above); I used to feel mad at them because they put me through some bad situations when I was younger, but now, I feel like it doesn't even matter because they did such a great job in raising me, and now I feel closer to them than ever, and instead of thinking “oh nooo” when one of them calls me or approaches me in some way, I am now more open and talkative; I think I have more to thank them, than to criticize them on their parenting ways (crazy)I am much more open, tolerant, and specially, PATIENT! (before I got angry if I had to wait 30 min for a doctor's consultation; yesterday I waited 4 hours in a stupid flight gate, depressed as hell, but everything was ok and the waiting was not the worse); I even discovered totally different ways to face and live time (the book “Geography of Time”, by Robert Levine – recommended, by the way – helped me quite a lot in the Time question, but mostly for own experience), and I feel like I have more control over my time and the way I want it to pass by, than before
- I am much more independent and autonomous in diverse situations: I don't really need anymore to ask immediately for help if I have a problem; instead, first I try to fix it on my own, with my extra patience that I accomplished
- I am much more selective when it comes to people; I realized that no, I don't want to be friends with everyone, like before; and I definitely don't have to be nice to everyone. I had the privilege of knowing so different people, that in a way, it made me realize which kind of people I want around me and/or to have some influence on me
- I know much more about myself; I traveled places inside me I never had, and I found out so much stuff, I answered to questions I used to spend hours and hours asking myself and even others, I actually had the answer all along with me, but I didn't want to accept it, because I didn't want to do so. But now, I don't care if for other people is not normal; a good example of this point is the alcohol consumption: I always hated it, but I still did it because of others expecting me to do so, and I didn't want to admit to myself, I am not the type of person of drinking until puking and going party really hard; my scene is totally different, and today i'm comfortable admitting it. Period. Of course this alcohol thing is just a stupid example; I'm talking about much deeper questions about who I am and what am I doing with my life; I simply didn't know, or knew but wasn't confident enough to assume it; now, I am. Which brings me to my next point
- I am much more confident now; I just accepted the way I am and stopped trying all the time to seek for external approval or to change myself because it corresponded to social/external criterion of what is good, and what is acceptable, and what is cool; and so what if I do this and that? I do my way, and I feel confident on it. I create my own criteria of what is “good” (even though this is such a subjective concept), and I follow it my own way. Somehow, I would even say I have the feeling I can accomplish WHATEVER I want – which brings me to the next point
- I stopped listening to people that think they can tell me what to do or how to do it; I always hated, inside – but never really told it out loud – when I told my ideas or my plans or my goals to someone and that someone said “you shouldn't to that way, but this way”, or starting with talk like “that's no good for you”, “you shouldn't” “you must”, “why don't you do this way, is better”, or even, what was WORSE, “that's so stupid!”; in portuguese, I would listen to this very often “não sejas parva, não faças assim, faz assado”. I don't stand it anymore, I don't take that bullcrap anymore – specially because I eliminated that kind of people from my life. Fuck, we get what we give to other people, in the end of the day; I always accept people for who they are, without judging them, why the hell should I be judged?? Furthermore, when I share my ideas or goals with someone, is expecting it will be accepted; maybe not agreed, but at least accepted and without vain attempts to change my mind
- in spiritual terms, I also considered I grew quite a lot: I am much more in contact with my spiritual side. Don't confuse this with religion; I still don't have a specific one and didn't find a reason to have it; I mean more in a transcendent way, I believe there's some kind of energy that we can not really see; maybe because I saw things I never had seen before and I had some transcendent moments and experiences – so priceless!!!!
- at last but not least, the way I see happiness now, its a totally different way. I realized happiness is something that has to come from inside. It is not related to external objects or situations, but rather with the way we look at them.
Now that I finally accepted in peace that this experience is over – it was great, fantastic, amazing!!!, but over – I just want to take all this knowledge, this precious “enlightening”, if you will, I got (not only knowledge about myself, as who I am, what do I want, what I do not want, but as well as the world outside and how to live in it), and use it the best way I can in my future life and live it to its fullest and the best way I always find to live it.
In sum, this experience was just... good, GREAT, GRAND, MARVELOUS, in every aspect. It was just good for me. Just good! I would say, in Portuguese, “só me fez bem”.
And with this last long reflections, I end up my blog about Amsterdam. It was a good space to write, whether about specific situations I lived on Erasmus, whether about the way I felt about them, and what I learned along the way.
Tot Ziens Amsterdam!!!