It was in terminal 1 at the Frankfurt Airport when I realized I could not turn back. I was halfway through my journey of leaving the turmoil, distress, comfort, and familiarity of home. My only consolation was my school friend, Melody, who was flying with me. I could count close to sixty people waiting at terminal 1 apart from the two of us. Some were anticipating meeting their family, some were ecstatic to start their 3-week trip in Banff, and others, like my friend and me who were supposedly flying to new opportunities.
When I was 14, I never expected to leave Sri Lanka. It was my home of 22 years, and I still long to return every year. After I finished high school, I was left with two options – continue my academics in Sri Lanka, or go abroad. I was not very excited about dreaming of a future in my country with its persistently declining economy, so I knew the facts pointed to going abroad. “Abroad” would usually be a vast term with 192 countries excluding my own, but to my father, however, it included just one; Canada. His decision was built on the premise that my aunt lived there. I suppose he wanted his only daughter to be safe and sound in the comfort of extended family. I was initially reluctant as most of my friends – the ones who decided to leave, that is – were moving to Australia for university, but I realized that I would not be able to change my father’s mind. I could not see my father’s vision clearly enough, but I knew I had to leave.
It has been two years since I flew to live at my aunt’s place. My cousin Dalia was in the same program as me, so I took this to my advantage to make adjusting to my university life less impossible. She had already sat through most of the classes I had to take, so she became my guide during my first year of university. Though I had support from my cousins and aunt, I was slowly starting to drift into a state of depression (the Calgary winters did not help). I was starting to miss everything about Sri Lanka, especially my family. I missed my mother’s smile when she showered me with affection throughout the day, my father’s laughter when he taught us how to play the guitar, but most of all, my brother’s constant shenanigans, which always tested my patience. It is funny how something your past self would have rather avoided becomes something you cherish and yearn for in the present. When my dismal was only getting worse, I realized it was up to me to turn my life around for the better – and I did, with the help of every single friend I made in those two years.
It started with Melody and grew into Amara, Delaine, Max, Shanelle, and Theo. Hanging out with them took up most of my free time, which I was grateful for. Being with them was liberating – I was striving to be more independent and finally opening my wings without my parent’s guidance. This momentum became the force behind my perseverance, and the girl who once thought she could not get out of the cold abyss finally learned she had always been strong enough to do so. This pushed me into moving out of my aunt’s place, which was the final tie I had to the version of myself I believed was rooted alongside family. I was now more independent than I had ever been. Though it had been a long journey, it was something I was grateful for. Landing my dream internship was a testament to that journey.
My father saw my potential long before I did. I can now clearly see the vision my father saw for me. Moving to Canada has not just enabled me to build a future but also to build myself. I am determined to reach new goals and heights.
Please note that certain facts have been altered for anonymity
This story is a collaborative effort between Minoda Fernando and Priya Kumara