I started this post almost two months ago. I am certain that this effectively sums up how difficult it is for me to answer that question and I’m sure equally so for many international students, as they come to the end of their university careers. It’s almost cruel to have to choose: should I stay here, and continue the life that I started here in 2007? Or go back home and return to the one that I left so long ago? After making my home here at U of T and establishing myself in my most defining years, as an adult and as a Torontonian, do I just give it all up? I have no doubts that this is as much a conundrum for the student that has what I call, “a first home,” whether it be a few hundred or a few thousand miles away. There are so many things consider.
Friends vs. Family
Is there really a distinction? My friends at university have become my family, and my family in Trinidad, my friends. But I’ve grown accustomed to a life where I can have both. I have the luxury of being able to fly home two or three times in a year for a few weeks at a time, and more often than not, this is enough to satiate my needs for blood and water. But if I were to go back home, there would be much less reason for me to fly to Toronto twice, even once a year. And as painful as it’d be, I’d be virtually giving up the friends that I have now, who I’ve become so close with. One thing’s for sure, I won’t have mom and pop for pay for it anymore!
If I were to go home, I would have a roof over my head, a car to drive, and food in the mouth. Sounds like a sweet deal, right? Especially when considering that if I stayed in Toronto, I’d be pretty much on my own, having to work for my dollar and keep myself afloat. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly excited to be financially independent for the first time in my life, but this is also an undoubtedly daunting prospect to face. Especially now that I’m a part of what seems to be the most unhireable generation in a job market that’s not even hiring.
On the other hand, staying here would likely yield more for me in the long run. I would gain experience in a much faster paced, more demanding work environment than I would if I went home right away. That is, assuming that I am able to land a job. And a good one, too. There’s little sense in staying here for three years more, gaining experience as a bus boy or sales clerk when I could go home and get started pursuing a career.
The deciding factor?
Happiness. Where would I be happiest? On the beach in the sunny Caribbean, swimming and drinking with the little fish? Or in the heart of the big city, chasing dreams and pavements amongst skyscrapers? I’m sure many of you that are tired of battling old man winter will think that this is a no-brainer. But not everything is as simple as beaches and booze. I recently read a passage in a book by a countryman of mine that sums up a sentiment that many of us buccaneers feel about the monotony of the simple lives of our homelands, which only adds to the complexity of the question.
“The traveller […] was enchanted at his first glimpse of this paradise, in which the ordered beauty of agriculture and prodigality of Nature competed equally for his surprise and admiration. But it was monotonous. Year in year out, day after day, it was the same, a little greener in the wet season, a little browner in the dry. The wilder scenery as constantly magnificent, but for [those] who had seen the same domestic landscape from his earliest hour, it awakened little response. To the emigrant who was at first charmed and exhilarated, monotony bred indifference, which could develop into active dislike, and longing for the seasons returning with the year.” CLR James
So you see, there really is no easy answer. Although, one thing I’ve recently realized, is that I’m grateful to even have the choice, I know that many would love to have such a luxury. It is a blessing as much as it is a curse.
Be sure to come back next week, where I’ll have a look at what I, as an international student, will need to do if I do decide that I want to stick around ol’ Toronto!