I remember once last semester, while sitting on the German train for the first moment in a very long time, I felt something I hadn’t felt in what appeared to be ages. It was a strange combination between belonging and being a complete stranger, a combination between a German girl right at home and a Panamanian girl on the train of a foreign country. These “halves” of me have always existed and as much as I love them, for most of my life I felt that they kept me from feeling 100% something. Here I was, speaking German, looking German and taking the train like any other passerby and I never felt more Latin. There was a voice buzzing in my ears and yelling out in a Sofia Vergara-esque accent “ you don’t live here and you’re not really German!“ It would say “ If someone stepped on you now, you wouldn’t say “scheiße,” would you? No, no, no, you would say “chucha” like you should.” She had a point. She reminded me that something kept and keeps me constantly tied to my other half, and that just like my heart beats in black, red and yellow it also does in red, white and blue. The weird thing is that for the better part of my life I felt at odds with this Latin side of me. While I was at home in Panama, sometimes I felt like a fish outside of water, completely out of tune with the culture and habits that characterized the everyday of a Panamanian life. Nevertheless, and ironically enough, it was the day that I stopped living in my country that I realized it lived within me.
It’s not easy to feel that you always are missing something. Since I left Panama 5 years ago and I started fresh away from home it was an incredible decision, which opened doors to new people and cultures and phenomenal experiences. However, it was also a bit of a curse that condemned me to always live away from something or someone I love, the people and things that have stayed behind in every new place I’ve called home. The fact of the matter is that at this point little bits of my heart are scattered around the world, and they will never come together in one place. This feeling was only intensified by the fact that I began feeling that my two halves would never come together in one place either, at least not entirely. It appeared to be that when the circumstances and my surroundings finally lined up with one of them it was the other one that chose to come out.
When I finally arrived in Europe to live, the mother ship, my dream since I had use of reason, it was not the cool collected Deutsche that showed herself, but the erratic Panameña in me, running out in the cold in a bikini, expecting warmth and screaming at the top of her lungs “someone, anyone hug me or something, por favorrrrr!” So there you had me, feeling as out of place as someone would in a bathing suit in the middle of December. Never had I yearned as much for instructions and never had I detested the tacit so much. And in all this, instead of letting her run free, albeit freezing, I tried to put her down like a hunter who shoots himself in the foot. As always, I tried to suppress that part of me but in doing so it became evident that the other one would stay away in protest as well. Who the hell was I? Were my identities turning against me?
It turns out that they could co-exist just fine, and I just never gave them the chance to. I learned the hard way that running around in a bikini in December, although not advisable, was something I had to allow myself to do to experience the cold under my feet and the ensuing pneumonia. A little bit of Panameña gave way to a little bit of Deutsche and vice versa. Granted, some lessons are hard to learn but its better to learn them in the end than to hide away for good. In finally allowing myself to live that way it became more and more evident that a little bit of pain often accompanies a lot of joy and ultimately, it doesn’t matter how many parts you are divided into if in the end you feel complete.
About the author:
My name is Marta Lucía and I am 21 years old. I have been living in Maastricht since August 2011. I was born in Panama and have lived there, in Germany, in the US and in the Netherlands, all of which I love. I study International Relations at Tufts University and hopefully will also complete a minor in Entrepreneurial Leadership upon my return.
CES students are bright and eager personalities from all around the world who attend classes at all faculties of Maastricht University through the comprehensive CES programme of their choice. Programme topics range from ‘Business & Economics in Europe’, 'European Culture & Arts', 'Psychology & Neuroscience in Europe', 'EU Politics, Policy & International Relations', ‘European Society & History’ and 'European Law & Human Rights' amongst many others.