An open letter to the friends I met abroad:

To the incredible, thoughtful, compassionate friends I met while living abroad:

When we first met, I had no idea how important you would become in my life. I had no idea that you would become not only some of my closest friends, but my family while I was away from my own. I had no idea that we would celebrate success, mourn loss, and experience every emotion in between in such a short period of time. I had no idea that hours spent together working would become some of my most cherished memories, and that you would be the reason my temporary city felt like home.

Thank you for opening your homes to me when I was missing mine. Thank you for your patience with my not-so-fluent foreign language skills, and for teaching me everything I needed to know about living in your city. Thank you for showing me how to spot fake money, for introducing me to your favorite restaurants, and for inviting me to family events like I was another member of your family. Perhaps most importantly, thank you for making this the most difficult goodbye I’ve ever said.

When I remember my time here, I’m going to remember sitting on hospital gurneys and talking about everything under the sun. I’m going to remember spontaneous trips downtown, hushed whispers through hospital masks, awfully placed practice arterial lines, and over-crowded taxis trying to get everyone to events. And of course, I’m going to remember how it felt to be a part of a family entirely different than my own, but also so much the same. That is the beautifully ironic part of this experience — my heart longs to be home, but home is now on two different continents. So thank you, again, for teaching me to fully and unabashedly love with a heart that longs for irreconcilable outcomes.

See you later, sweet friends.

-La extranjera

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