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Welcome to the Club: Bernardo Otaola

Journalist and writer Bernardo Otaola reflects on living and travelling in Europe.

September 25, 2015

When, in casual conversation, you let slip that you have lived abroad, people start looking at you differently. Suddenly, you are brave. Not everyone has the courage to sail into the unknown, leaving their friends behind, their families and everything they know. We all admire travellers because they are special. They don’t have doubts, they apparently don’t know the meaning of uncertainty and fear, and for them, everything is as simple as packing a single bag.

I was thinking of that while I was flying above the Atlantic Ocean to join the select club of people that have lived abroad and set foot in wonderful, mysterious Europe. A funny thing I realised once I got here was that most of the people I know in America want to go to Europe, and most of the people I have known in Europe want to go to America. Nothing is as human as wishing to be at any other place but the one you are right now.

The other thing I realised was that being a traveller in Europe is pretty common. Maybe it is just because I’m in the club or maybe it is a cultural thing; I don’t know, but I’ve actually known more non-Scottish people than Scottish ones. Before I even have time to notice, they are packing again and moving to another place. Most of them have a short-term plan, as the adventure comes with a due date, a year at the most.

Being a traveller requires no attachments. It would be unfair to say that Edinburgh is better than my beloved Mexico City. And it would be a lie to say that I don’t miss my country. But so far, I don’t have a rush to return. How could I if everything here is new and exiting? It’s the first time I have lived (almost) on my own, and I am loving it.

Einstein said that “a mind that expands to a new idea can never return to its original shape”. I’m truly understanding why is so difficult to stop this urge to discover that many people have. Every place in the world can make you love it or hate it. Sometimes both at the same time. Edinburgh makes me feel like time has stopped here in one of the farthest corners of the world. The castle, the streets, the houses… Time goes so slowly that I can’t believe I arrived here only a month ago. In winter I will probably be begging for warmer weather, but until then, this city and its people have given me a warm welcome to the club of those who have their home in all the unknown places.

Journalist and writer Bernardo Otaola is a columnist for Apuntes de Rabona. Originally from Mexico City, he is now based in Edinburgh and will regularly contribute to this blog. You can find him on Twitter at @bernaov