As I look back, I know that packing my life into a suitcase and leaving the safety of my home country was the best decision that I could have possibly made. It was only once I moved away, turned my life into a journey filled with uncertainty, that I grew up in unexpected ways.
While traveling alone I faced new challenges and get to know parts of myself that I didn’t even know existed. I ended up being amazed by myself and the world around me as I learned and broadend my horizons. I unlearned certain things and start to grow in humility, and evolve. I felt homesick and i made memories that will stay with me forever.
1. The word “routine” is dismissed from my vocabulary.
From the moment I decided to move abroad my life turned into a mixture of emotions. I was constantly learning, improvising, dealing with the unexpected and surprised by what I found. There is no place for “routine” anymore as I am constantly on an adrenalin high. How can you not be? My travels took me to new places , I formed new habits, met new people and constantly had to overcome new challenges. Starting anew is terrifying, but it is unusually addictive and the thought of routine now scares me.
2. Its not Bravery or Courage to go after what you want.
Lots op people told me how brave I was to travel alone, and that they would also do it if only they weren’t so scared. But I know, it is not bravery, as I am also scared every time I move to a new, strange country. Each trip abroad shakes my certainties and brings fourth my fears. It is purely about wanting it with all your heart. From the moment I decided to live my dream I had to deal with whatever came my way, no matter how scared I was.
3. There is no more “normal” for me.
While living abroad I realiuzed that “normal” only means socially or culturally accepted. Everytime I moved and embraced a different society and plunged into a different culture, my notion of normality dwindled untill there was nothing left. I learned that there are other ways of doing things, I discovered new things to believe in and got to know myself better.
4. Things and people come and go.
I learned the hard way, that now, most things and people in my life are just passing through. I have almost perfected the right balance between bonding and letting go, almost. I had to learn to let go of things. Wherever I moved to I ended up stockpiling new clothes, new books, and even mugs. But there always comes a day when I have to pack my life into my suitcase again and no matter how hard I have tried, I can never take “my new life and things” with me. It is only now, after I have realised that you buy something for then and there,not for always, that it is easier to let go of the things accumilated along the way.
5. My languages get all muddled up.
Everytime I live in a new country I try to learn the local language. For me it is a way of embracing the new culture and getting to know the locals. This way I also soak up cultural references and unfortunately swear words from this new language. So sometimes when speaking to friends I will let a word from another language slip in. This confuses some people and sometimes instead of understanding from where I come from now, they end up teasing me. I had to learn not to let this get to me, as they might never have had the opportunity to learn a new language.
6. Be patient and ask for help.
While living abroad, the simplest task can sometimes become a huge challenge. From processing paperwork, taking the right bus to ordering something to eat can become a nightmare! There has been lots of moments of distress for me, but I found that being patient and just asking can make the worlds difference. There always seems to be someone around, willing to help you out, someone willing to explain and sometimes even someone who is willing to show you how to get back to where you live.
7. “Home” is where you are at.
From the moment I squeezed my life into that purple suitcase of mine my old “home” ceased to exist. No matter how foreign each country or city is when I move there, there always comes a day when I suddenly feel at home in my new city. Home is the person travelling with me, the people I leave behind, the streets where my life is taking place. Home is also the random things in my new flat, or my local grocer who always greets me in the morning. Home is al those memories, those phonecalls to family, postcards to friends and all the photos I took along the way. Home is truly where the heart is.
8. Freedom has its price
I have always been free, but somehow fredom feels different when travelling. I had to give up a lot and make it work thousands of miles away from home. I miss out on birthday celebrations, friends weddings, family get togethers and life at home. It is not that I don’t want to be there, I wish there was a way to be in two places at once. I have this whole new world around me, filled with new adventures, new people to meet and experiences to be had. The fact that I have been able to live my dream, despite missing out on those special moments with friends and family, has made me feel like I am capable of anything!!
9. Talk about your travels in moderation
My life had been changing at a non-stop pace while I was travelling, and I couldn’t wait to share all my travel stories and those anecdotes that had been piling up. But unfortunately, at home, life’s the same as always. Everyone has gone on with their daily routines and as you overwhelm them with your stories they come to see you as pretentious about your travels. So I learnt to be careful, and to only share my journey when someone asks.
10: There is no turning back
Now that I know what it means to give everything up, what starting from scratch means it is not a daunting thing to try it again. How could I not keep on travelling, discovering and marvelling at the world every day?
How has travel changed you?