How to spend your last days in a country that you’re about to leave for good? I was writing down my thoughts 7 months ago… when I actually moved out from Warsaw and change my address for sunny Barcelona. It might be (or not) useful for someone who is going through the same one day.
I wanted a change in my life, I mean a really big change for a very long time. I have lived an expat life during the last 7 years in Warsaw, Poland. They say that after every 7 years in your life you start a new life circle, and even if you want it or not, it’s highly recommended at least to consider changing something around you. But I’m not this kind of person just to change something because it’s advised. If I change, I do change. Not just something, rather everything.
However, the truth is that I wanted to move out of Poland after every single year. The original plan was to stay anyhow only for 6 months. So I’ve kind of over-done it. Massively. With 7 years. Crazy long. If you ask me why I have waited for that long, the answer is simple for me, it was just super comfortable.
I was in my comfort zone, no real challenges, I was successful in my profession, I have lived the shiny expat bubble life, I had friends and travel out of Poland as often as I just could (!). Even though I have studied Polish for 2 years, weekly having 2 lessons, but after a while, I just gave up. I reached a comfortable level of being able to communicate and understand things around me and I thought it’s enough. Rather started to continue learning Italian (!). Yes, it makes absolute sense to learn Italian in Poland. But these were already signs, even if I wanted to read them or not, ehm.
I outlined many plans, scenarios, where to go, what to do, what is next, but I kept staying. All my friends with whom I was talking about it, at first just discreetly laughing, ‘ah you’re staying in Warsaw?’, ‘ah, just one more year?’, ‘ah, you will never come back!’ and I kept answering ‘no-no, just one more year and I’m done here’ but it was not done, a new December came, the same questions appeared and I gave the same answers. Of course, after a while, my friends and my family have just started to question if I ever move out of Poland. These questions were frustrating enough, and even though I know that none of my friends ever wanted to hurt me, but this kind of questions to a person who is living in a foreign country, and doesn’t know what is next, are super strong and sometimes painful. As I knew it very well myself too, I don’t want to live the rest of my life in Warsaw. I have a more interesting story ahead of me to experience.
I’m moving to Barcelona in a month, and I have never actually considered this city as an option where I would like to live. Funny enough, as Barcelona is indeed an amazing place, and I have been there many times as a tourist, also for work, meetings, business travels, and of course to visit my love many times and because of whom I’m actually moving to Barcelona.
But instead of Barcelona, I wanted to move originally to Roma, Italia, for a very long time. That plan actually could have made much more sense back then, as I was learning Italian for many years, I traveled a lot in Italia, I was familiar with the culture and history enough, and I have also finished a language school in Roma. I know the cittá eterna very well, and it’s still one of my favorite cities in the world. Thus let’s face it, it wouldn’t have been that big change, nor challenge for me out of sudden. Maybe because of that, or for whatever reason this plan I couldn’t realize. I was really close to actually made the step, but somehow life had another plan with me, and I’m super happy about it.
So, I’m here, still in Warsaw, for 2 more weeks and packing my stuff and my last 7 years into boxes. Third of my things are already in Barcelona, another third are already at home in my Mum’s house, all those things that I’m not taking with myself to Barcelona, because I just simply don’t need them, such as winter coats for -20 degrees. Bye Warsaw! Hola Barcelona!
The last third of my stuff is still here in Warsaw with me. Some of them I’m giving away to friends, or selling them online. So my flat is far from being a cozy home anymore. It’s half empty, with pieces of luggage and random clothing items around. I don’t even have the right stuff to wear, so I’m basically wearing the same kind of clothes in every 4th day. Who cares. But every morning I just need to realize that the skirt or shirt I want to wear, is actually not in my wardrobe here anymore. First world problems.
I don’t have food at home, as it doesn’t make any sense to buy things that I won’t be able to eat during the last 2 weeks. So I’m buying only the things I know I will consume during this period. And trying to use all the left packets of rice, chia seeds, oatmeal, sauces, eggs, I still have at home. Smart cooking.
Actually, this weekend is my last one in Warsaw. I have a farewell party on Friday with my expat friends and farewell brunch with my Polish friends and ex-colleagues on Sunday. It’s a bitter-sweet moment, as much as I cannot wait to move out of here and be finally in Barcelona, there are people I will miss for sure. Not the city, not the places, but the friends, yes. And it doesn’t help either, that everyone with whom I’m talking to about my move, are super sad and depressed that I’m leaving, just some of them are able to smile with me, but for them, I’m super thankful. I just cannot associate myself with any negative thoughts as I have never been happier in my life to move out of here.
Well, let’s be honest, it’s not easy. It’s tiring, both mentally and physically. Spending all my free time with packing suitcases, organizing stuff, organizing a life. Today is my farewell party, officially the first one, there will be a couple of more. Saying goodbye to a place that was my ‘home’ for the last 7 years. It’s very weird, I should be sad, and maybe I’m, but it’s more complex than that.
I left behind places in my life previously, and I still think the hardest was when I left Hungary, 7 years ago. I didn’t know where I’m heading to then, the only thing that was given was the job. I didn’t know anyone. Noone here. Most of my friends were thinking that I was crazy to agree on this, to move to Warsaw, in January 2012.
For me then it was fair enough and a good starting point that I knew that I had a job in Warsaw, they were waiting for me, they needed me, and all the rest we figure out, I was thinking…And well yes, finally, I was right.
Even though I didn’t even know where I would live then. I spent the first weeks in a hotel, and in the meantime looking for places with a real estate agent. I didn’t speak any Polish. I didn’t know the city, zero. It was -12 during the day and -19 during the night. I didn’t have proper clothes for this temperature, and somehow I was not scared, I liked to be in the unknown. If I think back I was still a kid, and had this attitude of let’s do it. Funny enough, I still have this attitude. Anyhow the plan was just to stay for 6 months…
And the rest is history, here I am today, and regardless all the downsides, the life-experience that I gained during the last 7 years here is incomparable with anything else I could have been doing during the same period. I think I grew up here.
This morning when I was driving to my job, I just realized that I will drive on the same route only 7 more times maximum. It’s really happening, it’s really coming! I know this city by heart by now, the same way as I knew Budapest 7 years ago.
I had lived in Budapest for 9 years before I moved to Warsaw. I remember my last night there. Of course, before I had many farewell parties there too, I had a lot of friends, family, who wanted to say goodbye. It was all super nice then. But the last night was terrible. I was alone in my flat, both of my suitcases were already packed. Yes, I moved to Warsaw with 2 suitcases, 1x32kg and 1x10kg. Famously effective.
I had my flight to Warsaw very early in the next morning. I was sitting on my couch, kind of ready and nothing else to pack or to do, and suddenly realized what I was doing… I leave my country, I leave my family, I leave my friends, I leave my comfort zone, I go to the unknown, and why am I doing this?!?
One of my best friends was calling me at the same moment, as he was coming with me to the airport in the morning to help and say good-bye. He was calling just to agree on what time we meet in the morning. And I immediately started to cry on the phone, so much, that I couldn’t speak for minutes, and I couldn’t really say why I’m crying so much, I never ever cried so much before in my life, later yes, but not before. I felt so alone, I felt I was crazy… why am I doing this, moving to a new country completely alone…and leaving behind my super nice life. Why?!?
And now, I’m so happy that I have done this. That I had the courage, the craziness, the willingness to do that. Of course, it was not easy, I had difficult periods here too, but I managed to build a life here too. I found new friends, new favorite places, I adapted myself to a new culture, I learned their history, their language, their behavior, and I learned so many things about myself during this journey, and this is the most important thing among all of these.
So with having this experience, now I feel to leave and to move to a new country again, especially to Spain that I love, hahaha, peanuts. Hahaha, of course, it’s not. But I’m definitely in a better starting point. I know Barcelona, I know where I will live, and the most important that I have my love there, waiting for me. I also know other people there. The weather is super nice, and I like the food there. I think I don’t need more. Especially if I compare this with my situation 7 years ago, and the conditions, how I moved then.
I was counting back the days since the day I have decided to move out of Warsaw. I agreed with my landlord that I move out with the end of April. There was a deadline, so it was easy to count back the days, but when this number of days left was still above 70… I couldn’t really take it seriously, or really believe in it. Even though it was all planned and agreed, but there were many-many days left, that I needed to spend, to make some sense out of it. So I have been just living my ‘ordinary’ life and started to think about the whole relocation, what to move and when, but only in theory.
I have never had a second thought since the moment I made the decision. It was just so clear, and I think I was ready for this move for a very long time, without actually knowing the destination. And of course, with time I needed to start to pack, deliver a couple of things already to Barcelona, also back to Hungary, plus I needed to take care about the things at my workplace, etc.
But then suddenly, this number is actually 7 days. And it’s over. Meaning, I will wake up in Warsaw 6 more times, I will use 6 more Nespresso capsules at home, I will finish using my shower gel and I won’t buy a new one here, I will drive my car to work 6 more times. I will have 1 more Spanish lesson here. I will have 2 more trainings, I will go to sauna only once more, spend 1 more night with friends… I will meet my landlords tomorrow to handover the flat and related papers… everything is suddenly countable, and finite.
Yesterday I looked around in the half-empty flat and I was in an emotional state of mind, like ‘will I miss these walls, this flat, my bedroom, my terrace?’ For sure the memories will come with me, but I won’t necessarily miss the flat. It was nice, great location, but I always felt it’s temporary, regardless of how cozy it became during the years.
But I look around differently. Even if I know for sure I will come to Warsaw from time to time in my life. I looked on Plac Zbawiciela and Plac Konstytucji yesterday, like, wow, maybe this is really the last time when I can see these squares. And it’s not like I have so strong feelings towards these squares, Plac Zbawiciela, maybe yes, some parties there, the Tuk-tuk food, the brunch at Charlotte, and biking around this area was always nice. But Plac Konstytucji was always just an ugly square for me. No offense (!). But yesterday, somehow in the sunshine and with this feeling of leaving and maybe it’s my last time there, I started to like it. I even smiled.
Today in the Spanish class I was also so emotional, and just came to my mind that I see my classmates only one more time. Only one more lesson left. Suddenly I wanted to hug them, and tell them how happy I’m that we did this course together, but finally, I didn’t. But I decided to bake Pogácsa for the last lesson and say nicely adios!
I already had my two farewell parties. Everyone around me knows that I’m leaving, it’s not a secret anymore, no more gossips, no more corridor talks, and it’s such a great feeling. And I can’t stop smiling 🙂
And my farewell parties were really nice and simple. On purpose, I invited only those people who are actually very close to me, or to whom I wanted to say thank you one more time. This way we could keep it somehow private and honest. I haven’t cried yet, maybe I won’t at all, not sure. I’m just way too happy because of what is waiting for me that it overwrites the potential sad aspect of leaving.
And the rest is history… ☺️
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