My first, post overseas was in Porto, Alegre, Brazil. I am not a language person, but after three years living there I fell in love with Portuguese and the Brazilian culture. Of all the languages, I attempted to learn Portuguese was my favorite. During this time, I discovered my favorite Portuguese word, Saudade. When I left Brazil, this word was imprinted in my mind for the rest of my travels.
Saudade (Brazilian Portuguese: /saw.ˈda.dʒi/), is a melancholic feeling of incompleteness linked by memory to being deprived or separated from someone, someplace, or something, or to the absence of certain desirable experiences or pleasures.
Saudade gets to heart of the challenge of living abroad. We are constantly yearning for a person, place, or experience that we no longer have. No matter, how many different countries we live in we always experiencing the transition period where we are adjusting to a new country, culture, and lifestyle, and are missing what we have left behind. As new expats, we are homesick for our home country but the more we travel the more complex this lacking gets. I remember the exact moment I was sweating as I walked the streets of Abu Dhabi with a feeling of incompleteness. I was shocked when, I pinned-pointed my sadness was not for my home country but for my last “home,” Buenos Aires. I missed walking around the old cobblestone streets of Buenos Aires among the old buildings and purple flowering trees.
As expats, we know that living abroad is amazing adventure filled with big highs and challenging lows. We get the chance to create beautiful memories and life-long friends that feel like family but inevitably, we leave them or they leave us. We are constantly saying goodbye to people, places, and experiences. What is your experience with Saudade?
Photograph from Leah Fisher Arsenault