From a big family to a friend family

​I’ve always been surrounded by people in Ecuador and didn’t like the idea of being in a small apartment on my own for my master’s, but this is how I worked things out.

Me with my big family back home in Ecuador pre COVID-19.

I don’t know if this happens to everyone but, where I come from, the people we call family are not just your mom, dad and siblings. Personally, my house and dinner table were always full whenever we celebrated a birthday or any other special occasion. Even the dogs were invited, no kidding! So, I was used to being constantly surrounded by people, and the idea to move all the way from Ecuador to Sweden for my master’s and live in an 18 sq. m apartment by myself was a bit of a challenge.

When I first got here, I got help from my friend that had been here for a year. She’s also a Chalmerist studying Computer Systems and Networks, we met at our undergraduate program back in Ecuador. Anyway, she showed me around and told me the “must have” things for surviving the first few days in Gothenburg. Those things included a warm blanket, a pillow, an adapter for the electric outlet, Wi-Fi router and kitchen’s basics. There I was, in a studio where I could reach the kitchen in two steps and to the bathroom in two more (just kidding). And I remember talking to my family and friends, doing the “tour” around my new home, just standing in the middle and rotating in the same axis. I was excited and at the same time, wondering how life would be without meeting them often.

Since I consider myself the generation post-COVID-19 when it comes to studying abroad, I know the situation is a bit different from what others may had experienced before. The lockdown actually helped me to realize that I was not going to be able to see my grandma and all my little cousins running around for a long time. I remember being strong the whole time while saying goodbye to my family before coming here but, when the time to came to say goodbye to my cousins, I just broke down. It is different not to see your grown-up family in two years than not seeing the kids. They grow up so fast and you won’t be able to see it happening. The good thing is that we have technology to keep in touch and I hear their little voices and see their faces every once in a while, it helps me to miss them a bit less.

It is amazing how living by yourself makes you grow. I experienced that in Ecuador for a bit more than a year, but it is, certainly, not the same here. Now, I have been establishing my own extended family. I was usually the kind of person who has different groups of friends and gets along really well with all of them. Well, I’m still that kind of person, just in another country. Two of my friends now, have become like a new family to me. My quaranteam! They are the ones I call whenever I’m in need, to ask for advice, watch movies with and when I bake something new. It has been nice being able to count on them during this new experience. But they are not the only ones I have to turn to here. I also have good friends I met in a social group full of Chalmerists! It is crazy how after talking one night with them, we managed to get along so well that we ended up being close to each other. Going for fika sometimes, taking small trips around the city, having dinners, sharing new songs between us. 

But the most amazing thing, so far, has been working together for baking the perfect red velvet cake and bringing it over to surprise our other friend for her birthday. It was super exciting doing those things together . In some way it reminded me when I did those things for my family in Ecuador. Now, because of the pandemic, we try to meet as little as possible to keep ourselves healthy. However, the good thing about us is that we don’t need to be physically together to spend some quality time. We have videocalls a few times during the week, just to ask each other how our days were. We share pictures of random things and support each other. I love virtually and physically hanging out with them.

My small apartment never makes me feel lonely anymore because I have great friends who fill the silence and, occasionally, the empty chairs in my kitchen. I guess this is my new family now and, once again, I’ll be surrounded by the people I love and care about in Ecuador soon enough.

Author: Nathaly

Page manager Published: Mon 01 Feb 2021.