Of Leaving And Coming Home

*Because my very good Brazilian friend started this morning with a trip down memory lane of the fun times we had in Turkey and the sadness of leaving hence, I am reposting here a letter I sent to a friend when he was about to leave Asia.

Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.

– Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky

Bosphorous Bridge, connecting Europe to Asia, connecting me back home

February 22, 2012

Dear $@*38!,

I remember that time last year when I was in Ataturk International Airport waiting for my flight that will bring me back to the Philippines. My 8-month program in Turkey has ended and it is time for me to come home.

No one knew the sadness I was feeling as I wait to board for my flight. I was fighting tears, convincing myself that it was just a dream, that when I wake up I will still be in Turkey and I will still have a few more months to continue my life there.

But no. I am really leaving the country I have learned to love. I am leaving friends I have shared my life with. I am leaving a culture that has made me a better person. I am leaving a life I have learned to live.

It was inside the plane when I started to cry, really cry. I distinctly remember that moment when a flight stewardess asked me if the overhead luggage was mine. I absentmindedly said “evet” which means yes in Turkish. She gave me a weird look. She did not understand me. She is not Turkish. That’s when I caught myself choking. Tears started to flow. I am really leaving.

The language that I have learned to love and appreciate will have to take a backseat together with the other things that I got used to doing while living my life back there. I won’t need them anymore. I am not going to live in that country anymore.

I have to readjust myself to the place that I am coming home.


I assume your head is a mess now. Six months is too short. Six months is not enough.

A part of you probably wants to extend your stay in Asia, a place which gave you tons of happiness and new experiences. But a part of you probably is also dying to go home, a place where you will always feel safe and secure.

You have been in this situation several times. You have lived in other places for months or years before, places you have almost called home. But then you have to come HOME.

This will not be any different. It will be heart breaking at first but the adage that says there is no place like home will always win.

I wish you a painless transition from your life back here to your life back there.

I believe the weather here and there is as different as night and day. I hope that the warmth and love that you felt in Asia will tide you over the cold winter.

Don’t miss the beach too much. The snow will be a great alternative.

Don’t miss the heat too much. The hugs and kisses from families and friends will keep you warm.

Don’t miss the food too much. The schnitzel and potatoes and apfelstrudel are welcome relief from all the sacks of rice you have eaten for six months.

Don’t miss Asia too much. It will only be one plane ride away, always waiting for you.

May my imaginary hands holding your hands as your plane soars out of Asia and heads to Europe somehow ease the sadness that you may be feeling now.

May my imaginary hands holding your hands reassure you that after a few days of reverse culture shock, everything will just be like the way you have left it and Asia will just feel like a dream, a very nice dream.

Have a safe flight back to Germany and may all my positive thoughts be with you as you reunite with family and friends back home.

I will be missing you terribly here in Asia.

– Leslee


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