When Home is Not Such a Sweet Home

I remember in March, after I had come back from Honduras, all I could think about was planning my trip to Brazil. My flight back on September 8th seemed so far, so unreal. My life centered around dreaming about finally being alone and independent. And now it’s September 11th and I’ve spent 4 days wasting my phone battery scrolling through 537 photographs from the past 8 weeks.

I think the kicker for me was how good I felt being away – and recognizing what it was that I was so happy to be away from. I mean, what was it in my real life that felt so draining to come back to? I think getting away from reality is always good for a little soul refresh, but it felt different this time around.
I’m trying really hard to adjust, but I can’t. Everything I used to love two months ago about Toronto makes me want to gag now. I mean Zahra Travels started out in Toronto. I’m a narcissist about this metropolitan. So what now?

People seem less friendly, conversations seem pointless, food tastes mediocre, colors are faded. I don’t even have the energy to walk myself to Timmies. I have no clothes because I’ve lost my luggage and I’m getting used to the idea that it’s okay. I went to downtown in a hoodie on my first day of school…. This was never me. I guess I don’t need my cute flats and feather earrings as much as I thought I did anyways.


I keep talking to the people I met thinking I’m going to be back there again tomorrow. With Egypt, Pakistan, and Honduras, I kept no ties after returning because I love this city, I didn’t feel the need to keep looking into the past. The culture shock has come at home, not in Brazil. To realize I can’t kiss everyone on the cheek or eat brigadeoros when I come home from the gym or not worry about checking the weather before leaving home, it’s the small things that are really getting to me.

I have no energy to make more friends in my third year or to even hang out with old ones. I just want to get so busy with my 2 jobs and a full course and gym and salsa classes so I can shut my brain out.
Brazilians advised me to not use headphones for safety reasons because it gives the notion that there is a cell phone connected somewhere on your body. In Toronto, I never could even leave the house without them but in Brazil, I couldn’t give less of a sh*t. I loved traveling 6 hours in the bus to different cities and just enjoying the view and talking to people or napping or just thinking nothings. I had no negative thoughts I needed to cloud in my head.


When I stepped off that plane I felt sad to be back – but not in a way that was reflective of how much I enjoyed where I was. To me, it reflected the things that were weighing down my life here. And I think it was so necessary for me to feel this – to feel the juxtaposition of being away vs. being back, and understand that it’s okay to live my life for myself right now. It’s okay to pull back from the people and things that make me feel bad about myself.

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