Home is where the heart is
One of the most amazing things about living in a city like Toronto or even a country like Canada, is the multiculturalism that surrounds you every single day. Toronto especially is a melting pot like no other. Every single day you have the chance to meet new people and learn about their people, their culture and their homes.
For those of us who may have immigrated here, have family back where older generations came from, have been adopted or for some reason or another have a longing or calling to visit where we came from, the journey back home is often more than just visiting and seeing where our heritage lies. Oftentimes we feel a sort of connection with where we came from. It's not easy to explain, but it's a feeling that connects us our past with our present, and if we're lucky, with our future as well.
While this feeling may not be easy to describe, it is certainly one that I have had for as long as I can remember. Yes I am Canadian and when people that I meet travelling the world ask me "what I am," you can be sure that I am going to let them know that I am Canadian and damn well proud of it. Canada has been and always will be home and I am one of the ones lucky enough to get to say that.
But that's not to say I don't know or love where I came from. I have always been just as proud of my Romanian heritage as my Canadian roots. Visit my home and you'll see a Romanian flag adorned right beside my Canadian one. Do I have a Romanian soccer jersey ready to throw on whenever Romania is playing? Nope, I have two. I might be Canadian, but I'm just as proud to represent my Romanian heritage.
This is a feeling that I've had my entire life, which is interesting in many ways, but especially considering that I did not visit Romania for the first time until 2009. It had always been a dream of mine to go back home and explore the country of my birth while also getting to meet family that still lived back in Romania.
It is also an interesting thing, because I have found that having pride in your heritage is something that is very hit-and-miss among people that I've met travelling the world. There are many people out there who like me, are proud of their heritage and have made it a priority to visit their home country, whether it be on one or multiple occasions. However there are also many people that I've met, who are either indifferent or have a strong aversion to anything that even remotely resembles showing pride in where they came from. Some of these people are people who have for one reason or another left their home country, which makes the previous sentence understandable to a certain degree. However many of them are people who were born and have grown up in their current country and yet have this strong, negative feeling (or total indifference) to learning about their heritage or travelling back home to see where they came from.
Many of these people are people that I have had long, philosophical conversations with and at the end of the day, while I respect their opinions, I will always believe that travelling back home to where you came from, is something that every person should do at least once in their life.
For me, going back to Romania was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I got to meet friends & family that I had never met before (or only met briefly) and make some connections that I will never forget or let go of until the day I die. I got to travel through and explore one of the most beautiful countries in the world (and believe me, that's with bias aside) and see first-hand what my family and ancestors lived through for many a generation.
Most importantly, the journey "home" gave me a new perspective on life that I would have never gotten travelling anywhere else. I learned so much about myself and I was able to strengthen and deepen my connection with my family's past, something which has helped me grow as a son, brother, friend and most importantly as a person that I can be proud of being.
The world is filled with amazing places to visit and lifetime experiences to be had. There is no doubt that travelling in general gives you a worldly perspective that helps you grow in leaps and bounds. But to me, there is no feeling like the one you get from going back home and embracing that experience. For anyone who has a wanderlust for travel, there is always a destination bucket-list to be explored. If home isn't on that list, then I would say it needs a little updating.