the tornado is a breeze
when your arm’s around my shoulder
the tornado is a breeze
the tornado is a breeze
when your arm’s around my shoulder
Spiders walk all over my brain.
Their webs cast shadows.
I’m trying not to doubt this.
I try to get it out of my head but it doesn’t work. I’ve forgotten how to write it down, the paper stays empty.
All my friends can do it. They know their dreams and they believe.
Mine got lost somewhere along the way. Maybe I left it on the plane…
I’ve put up missing signs around. If you find it, would you be so kind to give me a call?
I’m a little incomplete without it.
When you are living abroad and you speak a foreign language you experience things differently. And it is goddamn weird. Here is what I have noticed.
Sometimes, it can be in the middle of a sentence, you just get hit in the face with the realization that you are not speaking your language. It sounds stupid, obviously you are not. But it isn’t that simple. Something in your brain just goes: “Ah, crap! What am I doing? This isn’t right!” I don’t think there is a reason, or an event that triggers it. It just happens sometimes. And with that realization, for me, comes the feeling of not belonging. It feels like you need to stop speaking this weird strangers’ language, get on the first plane back home and leave everything behind. It usually passes very quickly but it makes you a bit sad that that is the automatic reaction in your head.
Another lesson I have learned in my short time abroad is: you will have good and bad language days. For me the foreign language is English and although I have studied it for years in high school it is completely different when you need to use it very single day for every single thing. You can’t just switch back to your native language when you don’t remember a word. And you always think to yourself: “Great! Now I look stupid, when really I do know the word I just can’t remember it.” Good and Bad English days for me happen a lot. What I mean by that is some days, maybe because I am tired or sad, or for no reason at all, my English gets ten times worse than it actually is. I forget words, my pronunciation is terrible, it sounds like I haven’t even heard of the concept of grammar. And that does make you very self-conscious because it is hard to explain to people. Your good days make you feel quite proud of yourself, but even then you worry whether or not you sounded bad with your weird accent.
And maybe the most irrational fear for me is that I’m going to forget my language. I don’t think there is any scenario where that will happen but the fear still sits in the back of my mind. The other day I realized I hadn’t written in Bulgarian for weeks. And I’m going to be honest, that freaked me out a little bit. I know that I talk to my family and friends back home basically every day, I love my language and I will not let myself forget it. But it is a thought that runs through your head occasionally. Especially when I can think of a way to say something in English but not in Bulgarian – that scares me sometimes.
It’s not all self-consciousness and doubt, however. There are plenty of amazing things about being able to speak in English. Just the thought that you understand two different ways of speaking is pretty cool. And even if you are not confident in your abilities at times, that doesn’t make them any less impressive and amazing.
Another thing that I absolutely love is when you get so close to somebody, and you just have that connection where you feel like you can speak to them in your language. Just because for a few seconds you think they will understand. And that is so intimate and personal because it means they remind you of the feeling of home.
Overall, the whole experience of existing in a place where you need to use a foreign language is one of the weirdest things I have ever had to do. It is good and bad – just like my English days – and wonderful. There are a lot more feelings and thoughts that go through your brain daily about it and I don’t know if that ever stops.
I’m writing this a few weeks after my first year at university in the UK finished and on the day my exam results came out. Seeing them has made me realize that I did actually complete the year despite all my doubts.
I am at home now, back in Bulgaria and even though I have countless worries for the next school year, I feel like reflecting on the one that has already passed.
I remember last September before flying across the ocean to live in a different country I had expectation that I was so sure of. I had this picture in my head of how life will pan out once I was at uni.
If there was one thing that I was certain of it was how much I’d enjoy my course. I thought that’s what I’m going there for, it will be the most important and amazing thing in my life for the next three years. I enrolled with Journalism and I had wanted to study it since I was about 13. So for years I worked towards achieving the grades I needed and working on my English so I can fulfill my goal. But I forgot to re-think that goal as I was going along. Something may seem perfect for you at a certain moment in time but as you grow up your dreams change with you.
Not going into too much detail but I learned that lesson very quickly once my course started. Journalism is a very interesting and serious field and I don’t think I quite knew what I was getting into. I am learning to enjoy it more but combined with everything else big part of my first year was considering whether or not I should drop out and the immediate anxiety that followed about wasting all that money and the uncertainty of what I’d do if I did give up.
I didn’t, obviously and a big part of that decision are my friends.
I have met some of the most amazing people. As strange as it may sound (I found it weird once I came to the conclusion) the best part of this insane year have been the friends I’ve made. I feared I wouldn’t meet anyone I’d click with or get along with – everybody has those fears going to a new place I think. But Sheffield has been so kind to me in this aspect. I feel lucky to have met people who helped me grow and got me through my bad days. Never in a million years did I think I would feel so close and happy with people I’ve known for a few months.
Bad days(weeks/months) for me this academic year were absolutely terrible. I did not expect to have such a hard time adjusting and I am more than sure next year I will have my moments again. However, I remember once exams were all done how proud I felt – not because I did particularly well but because I stuck it out. If someone had told me first semester I would’ve graduated from First year I wouldn’t have even believed it. I was that close to dropping out.
My time in Sheffield has been both good and bad, and I don’t know how it will end. I might graduate, I might not. I might stay in the UK, I might not. I actually have no clue and am trying not to panic about it but rather embrace it. I would not change my experience one bit if it means losing the friends I’ve made or not growing to the person I am now.
It was hard and it will be hard, and I probably won’t be the best on my course and I will feel like I’m the most incapable in workshops and I will struggle with work. I know all of this but what I have learned from this year is: sometimes it seems impossible to overcome things but you have to at least try; talk to people and don’t close yourself off – it never works. If at the end you grew as a person it was worth it. I know I’ve learned far more outside of classrooms than in lectures.
Today I went to my grandparents’ house. It’s in a very small countryside village. And by very small I mean its current population is about 350 people. Mainly consisting of old men and women, and a few not so old but just as closed to the world.
See, these days the house only belongs to my grandmother. Grandad died some years ago and it seems to me that the house, the street, the whole village itself has been dying since.
I know people say time stops in small rural areas and for a while it looked like it. Now, however, it seems that time makes everything decay. And to me it looks sad and real, and it feels very nostalgic.
The places I used to know as a kid are still there, but not quite. The bed of my grandfather is in the exact same place, but it always feels cold, even in summer.The yard is just as big as it has always been. But now there are just a few tomatoes and peppers growing, no chickens, no rabbits, no goats. The second dog since my grandad’s death is barking at times but he is too wild and untamed to play with.
The second floor of the house is well kept because my aunt and uncle often spend time there and have made it into a place someone can atually call home. It looks nothing like before.
The bedroom I used to spend my nights in with either grandpa or grandma telling me stories about princesses and frogs and evel step-mothers, or just about their younger years, is now unused and constantly freezing. There are some old photos of my grandad on the walls that weren’t there when he was alive and it makes it even sadder because you feel the loss stronger.
It’s funny bacuase some places haven’t been touched since the funeral but even they look different. However, the worst part is my grandmother.
See, she is very old, as are most grandmothers. But I think, something in her broke when grandad died. She got sick and she kept getting worse and worse since then. She can barely walk now, so most parts of the house (or at least the first floor) are dirty pretty much all the time. Which just adds to the feeling of emptiness and loss of life. She keeps remembering grandad at the weirdest times and starts crying. It must be heartbreaking when the forever of one person is shorter than that of the other.
Anyways, I’m writing this because I feel like everybody has or will go through it. It’s sad and real, isn’t it? Time rules us and everything around us. We grow and then we grow old. And running around with dogs in the backyard turns to listening to your grandma cry. Feeding the goats and collecting the eggs from the chickens becomes looking at old photos and cleaning the dust off of them.
I actually don’t know if it is the same fo everybody. Maybe some lucky people out there have it easy and their houses always feel warm and full, and their grandparents go peacefully together in their sleep. Something tells me there aren’t many of you.
For the rest of us this is the sad reality – memories stay and sometimes they make you smile, and sometimes they make you feel cold and empty. People go and whatever, whoever they leave changes. Time changes everything, desn’t it? And it never gives you a hint as to when it will hit.
I know that that house will soon change completely and even the dog won’t be there to bark at strangers. We all leave our traces and most of them will get washed out with time. The ones that stay are the real ones – not the pictures, animals, furniture. It’s the memories. The only thing that stays long after you are gone is the thought of you inside other people, the place you take in their hearts.
There will forever be a place for my grandfather in mine, regardless of how long my own forever is.