Monday, May 18, 2009

City Life

Coming Home Again, And Again
By Alyssa Schwartz

To most Americans, Europe is a continent of beauty and travel, a vacation spot. But for Elana Delasos, Europe is more than a beautiful vacation destination, it is a second home.

Meeting Delasos for the first time, one would never guess that she lived anywhere too far from New York City. Her voice has a recognizable northeastern tint and she wears simple jeans and a tee shirt during an interview in which her computer screensaver of the Eiffel Tower sparked a conversation about travel. Delasos has not only traveled to different countries, she has lived in them, as well.

Elana Delasos on one of her many trips to Paris.

Delasos spent her childhood moving between Europe and the US. She lived in Connecticut until she was in kindergarten, when her family moved to Paris. “My father worked for IBM and he had to move there for work, so of course at that age you go where your parents go,” says Delasos. “It wasn’t too drastic of a change because I was so young that I was easily able to adapt.”

Delasos lived in Paris until third grade when her family moved back to the US. “It was a little bit harder moving this time, because in third grade you are more aware of your friends and the fact that a big change is occurring,” says Delasos. “Still, I was young so it didn’t really faze me too much. I was excited to go back to see my grandparents and family. ”

Delasos remained in Connecticut, making new friends and re-adapting to American life. One might think that moving back to the US might be a difficult change, but Delasos explains that it was easier than expected. “I quickly adapted to life back in the United States. I made friends quickly, I had my family. After the initial move, I settled down pretty quickly,” she says.

Delasos, left, and a friend in Paris.

Delasos and her family lived in Connecticut until she was in the sixth grade, when she discovered she would be moving back to Paris. “I was so excited by the news” she says. “As excited as I was, I will admit that it was tough. I had close friends and I did have fears that leaving would put a strain on these friendships. It was also hard to say goodbye to my family, especially my grandparents.”

Delasos lived in Paris for two years, soaking up the culture and sights, enjoying it even more than the first time she lived there. “I appreciated it so much more this time,” says Delasos. “I really got the change to take in the culture and learn from it and appreciate it. I loved being there. I acquired my love for travel and for their language and culture. I’m still interested in it today.”

Although Delasos loved her life in Paris, she admits that there were certain things about America that she missed sorely. “American food, especially diners,” she says. “Television is another big one. A lot of American television shows that I had got interested in did not air in Paris.” She laughs and explains that, “at age 13, television and music was really important. It was weird not having that. I missed it a lot.”

After two more years in Paris, Delasos’s family moved back to the US so she could start high school. “It was such a bittersweet move. I was sad to leave my friends there, but I was excited to be back to the United States and see my friends here,” she says.

Delasos kept in contact with her US friends, but she describes feeling slightly out of the loop after making the move. “It was weird. My friends had all of these stories and memories between them. Plus, they shared interests in things like television shows that I had no idea about. I missed out on a lot – but I certainly don’t regret it.”

Delasos finished high school in Connecticut and moved to New York City for college. She knew going into college that she wanted to take part in a study abroad program and found one that allowed her to spend her junior year in London. “It was my first time being back in Europe since I had left Paris,” says Delasos. “I could not have been more excited. It was such a great experience. Not only did I go with my friends from college, but also I got to see my old friends from Paris. It was such a great semester.”

Delasos, right, and a friend in London.

Even though the moves may have been difficult at times, Delasos doesn’t regret one minute of her time in Europe. “I feel so lucky. I learned so much, like how to adapt easily, which is a great quality to have. It also made me extremely close with my family, because no matter where we lived and where we were going, we always stuck together and had each other,” she says.

Although she does not have definite plans to return to Europe, Delasos says she would, “love to live there with my family, at least for some period of time. It’s an experience everyone should have.”


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