Living abroad indefinitely takes a certain type of strength. It’s something unlike anything I’ve ever done before. My journey to Spain was similar, but knowing how many days until you see your loved ones again can change everything about your perspective. When you feel sad you can check your countdown and see how far you’ve come and how much you have left to go.

It’s different when you’re away for who knows how long. It’s a lot more painful and it takes much more courage and perseverance. Sometimes I hate how much I push away any thoughts about home. It feels cruel, not allowing myself to remember the good memories from California. But I just cannot. It’s not good for me and although in that moment it might feel right, it will bring me one step forward and three steps back.

I can’t allow myself to sit and think about how big my favorite little boys in the world are getting while I’m gone. I won’t let myself think about the possibilities of deaths in the family and not getting to spend any recent time with them. The one thing that I really have to push out – whenever I think about how much easier my life was in California. That’s not only a waste of time but it sends me face-first into a mood for the rest of the day.

It can be so easy to sit in self wallow and pity on your bad days. There are certain things that really trigger me that I’m careful to avoid and there are certain things that it’s just inevitable and you have to face. One of the inevitable’s for me is when Nenad goes out with his friends. Of course, I WANT him to go and I WANT him to have a fantastic time, but you can’t help but feel a sting of jealousy. He is so easily able to go spend time with those he’s been friends with for years. He’s able to go to his parents and get hugs from his mother. He has a great relationship with his brother and spends time with him weekly. He obviously speaks fluently and has no problems or fears of leaving the house. He can take public transportation without feeling weary and uncomfortable. We are in his hometown, something too easy to take for granted.

I don’t have any of the things mentioned above, all of which bring subconscious or conscious comfort to the heart. I have to find that comfort in other ways, and I do. One of the ways that brings the most ease to my sadness is learning new words in Serbian. Speaking the language is the best way to assimilate into society in my opinion and it’s one of the areas where I’m hardest on myself. Sometimes I don’t realize the immense progress I’ve made in the last almost 5 months. Learning more makes me feel better about this adventure and reminds me of how lucky I am and how awesome is my life.

Another thing I like to do to combat the pain is look at my photo gallery on this website. I mean how absolutely blessed have I been. I’m freshly 22, learning my third language, living in my third country with a foreign man who I want to spend my life with, with over 40 European cities and 7 countries visited, with a college degree, working my first post-college job in Serbia …. does it get better? Would I even want to change anything if I could? Thoughts like these make me realize the answer is no.

I don’t want my life struggles to get easier. What I’m facing is what a lot of people wish they could face. Problems they’re having as they travel the world… What a lucky girl. Turning my sadness into serendipity has been an acquired strength, something I’ve been working on since I left for Spain almost 3 years ago. Although it can feel difficult, I can’t imagine being anywhere else in my life then where I am right now.