Searching the world for that one perfect place

Sofia Gjerstad and Sofia Gjerstad

Before I fall asleep I usually think about when and where I’ll find a place in the world where I’ll belong.

It might sound like a clich├ęd philosophical question, but I am certain most college students wonder the same thing. If not, well congratulations.

It’s not that I haven’t tried though.

Spending 19 years in Sweden, I realized I couldn’t live there for any longer, so I moved to Barcelona. It was my first experience living without my family and I felt like I was doing the right thing by getting started on my mission to find my place.

Barcelona is a beautiful city and I loved it from day one. But I could never picture myself settling down there. The people were rather hostile to my friends and I, so we spent most time with other foreigners.

It was wonderful to walk around on my own being whoever I wanted to be. I love the feeling of a new start in a new city with new people. It scares me sometimes to leave everything, but I know I don’t have another option.

I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I don’t feel like I belong in the country I grew up in, and I’m not sure I belong in America either.

I’ve tried to find a place that I could commit to by traveling there just for vacation. I feel the city and picture myself living there.

I tried Paris, but we didn’t fall in love. I could see how Paris would just be my secret lover and not good for a long-term relationship.

I tried southern France and said to myself that this is the place where I want to live when I’m old and retired. I suppose all I need is to learn French once and for all then.

I tried Berlin and I loved it. Unfortunately, Berlin was rather disappointed with my limited German skills, and I wasn’t interested in learning more.

I went to other places in Europe, but I never found the place over which “Sofia” was written.

So I thought, what about America, the West Coast? Why not move almost as far away from Sweden as I can? California is about a 24 hour trip door-to-door from Sweden. Excellent.

So right now I’m “trying on” California. Like it’s a skirt I’m not sure of buying yet, I’m going to keep it on for a while and look at it from different angles. Whether it fits or not, I don’t know yet.

I don’t love California and America, but there are some things here that I love: the wonderful people, the California sun and the self-confidence only the world’s superpower could possess.

At first I thought: this is the country where I’m going to live. I’m going to get my education here, get a good job, find my future husband and let my children grow up here. That was sort of my plan, but I’m not sure about it any more.

There are so many things I want to do, so many places I need to see. I’m always think about my next move.

But what I do know is this: I’ll always keep searching for that special place where I feel like I belong.