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karina de jesus latvia riga home the style line

A Girl Abroad: The Ambiguity of Home

PHOTOS AND STORY BY Karina de Jesus FOR THE STYLE LINE

Home can be an ambiguous

term. It’s almost like beauty – it lays in the eye of the beholder. For some, home is the small town in which they grew up. For others, it’s their parents’ house that always has the same memory-filled scent. Once we’ve moved on and formed our own families, the place that houses us along with our spouses and children, becomes our home. These are the more traditional definitions of home. Then there are schools, churches, workplaces that sometimes also feel like home.

No matter how we try to define it, home is always tied to significant people and life-altering experiences. It’s never just a place or a building; only a particular sentiment can make us call a place home.

karina de jesus latvia riga home the style line

For the last four years, I called New York City

my home. I didn’t grow up in New York, my family was not there, and I was leading the single, career-driven life. However, there is something that makes the Big Apple so relatable and familiar that it can truly become one’s home – the humans of New York. The friends that I’d met in New York became my family.

My roommates of three years were my sisters that kept me accountable and listened to me when I was heartbroken. My partner at work soon became one of my closest confidants. I’ve always said that people of New York can relate to each other on a different level because a specific type of person moves there. It’s the kind that dreams big and is willing to work for it. The sort of person that will fight for their lot in life, be it a job, a partner or a cab on a rainy day. This person doesn’t give up and maybe can’t give up.

And in this, we can all relate and find a common language and understanding that will provide us with friends and family for life. Despite all this, I’ve now been back in Latvia for a little over a month. Naturally, after confessing my love for New York and its people, the question of why I’ve moved back to Latvia has arisen quite often.

karina de jesus latvia riga home the style line

Honestly, I’m not entirely sure but one thing is

for certain: there was an inner voice that called me back to the country where I was born. It started speaking to me nearly two years ago, and when it would not stop, I decided to leap without a real reason. Was it just because Latvia was my birthplace or was there more to it? Home is a place tied to important people and life-changing experiences.

Since I’ve been back, I’ve faced several instances that have made question my belonging in Latvia. I’ve been mistaken for a tourist and greeted in English before Latvian. I’ve missed out on cultural references specific to Latvia, haven’t been able to relate and feeling ashamed have had to ask numerous questions. When expressing a more complex thought, I’ve often had the vocabulary in English and not in Latvian. These are just a few surface-level instances that have left me feeling that assimilation can be difficult not only in a strange country but also your birthplace.

Now the question everyone asks me is whether I will stay in Latvia forever. I may. Or may not. Time will tell. However, I can tell you that it is essential to listen to the voice within.

  • karina de jesus latvia riga home the style line
  • karina de jesus latvia riga home the style line

Once you do, you may find something that is

very different from what you’re looking for – but trust in the fact that it will be exactly what you need. You must to do this for yourself and move along fearlessly.

No one can decide the place another person will call home. Home is where the heart is, and now more than ever I know that we must find a place that has our heart at peace. Through my journey in the United States, and currently in Latvia, I see that it is not about the circumstances. Peace comes from within, and when we accept this, we can find life-changing people and experiences anywhere we set foot.

“Home is a place tied to important people and life-changing experiences.”