When you meet someone for the very first time (which happens more than you might think when you surround yourself with people from other countries, participate in things like Couchsurfing and language exchanges, etc.) the first questions are always similar: "What’s your name?" "How old are you?" "Where are you from?" "What do you do?" "How long have you been here?"
My name is Claudia and I am a twenty-something year-old…
That is where it gets complicated for me. I am American and, in all honesty, I am proud to be an American (like all things, most of the time). However, I tend to refer to myself as a global citizen. Why? I left the U.S. when I was eighteen and have only been back a total of three times, mostly because I don’t have the need/desire to return more often. Since leaving the U.S., I have lived in Spain, Brazil, Portugal, and have just moved to Finland. And I have dual citizenship, which makes it okay for me to live long-term in the European Union for now (although I have never actually lived in the country of my second nationality–the UK). Saying I am a global citizen either turns people off–literally, I have had guys get upset with me when I say this and walk away–or people think it is really cool. However, as long as you’re respectful towards the way I classify myself, I am okay with it.
I got my undergraduate degree in Sociology from the University of Granada (Erasmus aka study-abroad year in Lisbon), and finished my master's in teaching a couple of years ago. For work, I have done everything from teaching English classes to working in the International Relations office of my school to doing working at a pretty established company in Granada. My life in Spain was very integrated as I spent my daily life (both work and leisure) with Spaniards which was made possible by all the time I spent there working on this integration–depending on how you count the years, I lived in Granada for somewhere between five and eight non-consecutive years. My Spanish is ‘so good’ because I have lived for years studying and working in Spanish but trust me, there are days when I feel like I am not capable of expressing myself or my friends/classmates/bosses don’t understand what I am saying.
Recently, I picked up roots and left behind everything I knew and moved to Finland. I had never been here before, but the opportunity just felt too good to pass up. Everything still feels very new, and I will definitely be adapting for awhile still, but I feel like that can help bring me closer to those people who are moving abroad (either for the first or the tenth time) because I am re-living all of those feelings again. Thanks for joining me on the journey!