Amongst the migrants I worked with in the UK some really missed their homelands whilst for others they only held memories for which they were glad to leave behind and forget. However, all of them missed specific things. For some it was their mum’s cooking whilst for others it was the weather (especially since they were living in the UK!), or not being able to speak their own language. However, a common and I guess obvious sadness amongst them was missing people – whether that be their friends, family or both.
Undoubtedly, this is and will be the same for me. I can’t say I am missing too much about the UK just yet, particularly the cold winter months (I love the fact it started to snow just after we left), and I’m sure I’ll get by being away for a year so – well, at least until my supply of Yorkshire Tea runs out.
So yes, people will be the thing I miss most about the UK. Not being able, for example, to call up one of my friends after work on a Friday evening to meet for a beer or to arrange watching football on a Sunday afternoon whilst having a roast and reading the Sunday newspapers. These are things you just can’t replicate.
Nevertheless, I should count myself lucky. Many of the kids and families I worked with would never be able to return to their homelands and many never had the chance to say goodbye properly to their families. On top of that many of them often had no idea where their friends and family were or even if they were still alive.
I, on the other hand, at least have Skype, Facebook and email to keep me in touch with people and I also have my wife’s family in Brazil – who are great*. Besides, unlike the kids I worked with I actually chose to move to Brazil and effectively I’m just a rich (in relative terms) tourist.
When it comes down to it I’m really just having an extended holiday where I don’t have a massively urgent need to work and where I can afford just to concentrate on studying Portuguese 3 days a week week – so yeah I’m pretty lucky. My travails, whilst probably amusing for you to read, are insignificant in comparison and that is what I should remember when I miss home. If an unaccompanied 14 year old from Afghanistan can cope in the UK then what have I got to worry about?
Nevertheless, I do now have a better understanding of how important it was to keep the young people I worked with busy and active – especially when they first arrived in the UK. If you move to a new country and cannot speak the language or understand the culture then you can become isolated very quickly so it is very important to keep yourself busy in order that your mind doesn’t wander and you don’t start to become homesick.
The kids I worked with threw themselves at the opportunity to go to college and learn English and they also tried to get themselves involved in as many activities as possible. Similarly, I have just started a 5 month course in Portuguese and my sister-in-law’s friends have taken pity on me and invited me to play football with them every week. I really am very thankful that everyone here has gone out of their way to help and welcome me. They have also shown extreme patience whilst I get to grips with Portuguese!
And whilst I will miss my friends from home I do at least have a new best friend here in Brazil. He is the family dog and his name is Franklin.
* Just in case they are reading.