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Valencian infatuation

I love where I live. I’ve always felt that the place you land and decide to call home, even if just for a while, is important. For your wellness, mental health, growth. When you feel connected to a place, whether it’s in the middle of nature or in a big busy city, your feet seem to grow roots at the same speed as your flower blooms in shiny lush petals. Some places can do that to you, and others can’t.


I remember when I was on the plane to New Zealand with a one year working holiday visa in my pocket. One hundred percent expecting for that gorgeous land to rope me in and my toes growing roots as soon as I set foot outside the airport. Strangely, that feeling never came. I had felt it before though. In most places I spent more than a few months, that full body sensation of ‘I could live here forever’ took over.


The first time I ever experienced it was during my Erasmus in Valencia. It was the first time I left Belgium to move abroad for six months. Uuuffff I felt it. That magnetic attraction. Like an infatuation, but more. A relaxing of the body, a fluttering of the heart, a soul at peace. As if your entire being is saying: yes, you belong here.


Of course, many people experience Erasmus as the best time of their life and they will forever have a special connection with their city. So I didn’t think much of it at the time. It was more like unlocking a door inside of me: I can feel at home somewhere. Something I had never really felt in the country I grew up in. A lot of my favourite people live in Belgium and I am more than happy to go back for visits for the rest of my life, yet I never experienced that ‘this is home’ sensation in my homeland. My heart fills with people and memories, but even when I tried, my feet wouldn’t grow roots in Belgian soil.


So I travelled the world to see where my toes would like to dig deep in the ground and my quavering petals would blossom into succulent blooms. It wasn’t hard to find places that made my heart dance. The more I saw the more I wanted to see. I was thirsty for experiences, different cultures, new people, other perspectives. I could have grown roots in Australia, but I didn’t. I went back multiple times and will continue to go back to the places that mesmerized me. I just wasn’t ready at the time. To stay would have meant to settle, to nest. I was too all over the place for that.


After spending more time than expected in New Zealand due to the pandemic, I flew to Belgium with a plan: to move to Spain. I would start in Valencia, since I know the city fairly well. Then the idea was to travel all around the country to find my home. Two years later I am still in the same city, the same neighbourhood, the same flat. The infatuation turned into a long-term situation. I didn’t expect my Erasmus city to become the place I call home almost fifteen years later, but gosh it feels good.

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