She has spent the greater part of her life in France, but has brought with her to Stoke-on-Trent (England) the still recent emotions of having been finally reunited with her Chilean origins.
Laura has spent her whole life living between two cultures, but this was the year in which she grew closer to her roots.
Born to a French father and a Chilean mother, this French 23 year old has just arrived in the UK after living in Argentina for 6 months.
From there she returned with the dream of one day going back and of keeping up “the custom of eating late and cooking empanadas”. Despite having travelled extensively during her childhood, to Spain and Latin America, Laura admits that this year she has learnt what it really means to live far from home, though she has never suffered from feeling uprooted. “In Argentina I felt like I was at home!”, she explains enthusiastically.
This sensation repeats itself three weeks after arriving in Stoke-on-Trent, a city in the North-West of England, where she is studying for a Masters in International Relations. Enjoying each place that she has the opportunity to discover is key for a young woman who dreams of becoming a diplomat.
Although her stay in England will only be for a matter of six months, the period of her Erasmus course, she is already looking positively towards the future. So much so that, being in her final year of studies already, she doesn’t rule out the possibility of settling in the United Kingdom.
“I adapt very well, though the one thing that I really miss is French cheese”, she says, smiling. As a scholar, and having already spent some time here, the young French woman doesn’t have any complaints about the treatment she has received in this country.
Everyone, from the university administration to her classmates, is “very friendly, they are always interested in how I am and my settling in. They are very friendly people”. This term, she tells us, is going to be full of new friendships with students from many different backgrounds, and, it goes without saying, the parties that make up a big part of this educational experience shared by so many European students.
However, Laura can’t help remembering Argentina. It’s as if a part of her remained in Buenos Aires, so it’s not surprising that she, who had never studied Spanish before, but rather German, returned to the capital after spending some time at the Catholic University in 2011.
Since then she has not stopped praising this nation: “It’s a fabulous country with really friendly people, who know how to enjoy life in spite of the day-to-day economic troubles they face”. In 2013 she had the opportunity to work in the French embassy in Buenos Aires. Despite an ocean of distance between her and her home, and a language she didn’t speak fluently, Laura didn’t have any problem taking to local life: “It wasn’t at all difficult to integrate into the country. My mother’s origins must have helped me adapt quite easily”, she recognises. It was a “very beautiful” experience, from a social, cultural and professional point of view”.
She is currently facing this new phase in England with optimism. But, not forgetting where she’s from, she likes to keep in contact with other Spanish speakers in Stoke-on-Trent.
Being part of two cultures is a gift that Laura knows how to appreciate: “I’m very proud of being able to represent two countries. It is of course very difficult to be of dual nationality because you don’t get to feel like you really are one of the locals. But I’ve learned to like the music and the local customs, in order to integrate”.
(Translated by Eleanor Gooch) – Photos; Pixabay