It’s crazy. Before I left, I never thought I would last longer than six months. It seemed to be an unbelievably long time, but here I am. Suddenly two and a half years have passed and I’m scared to blink, fearing I would miss life. Many things change in such a long period of time, yet everything is still the same. While it doesn’t seem to make much sense, it makes perfect sense to me. Everything is still the same back in Germany. Everyone is still doing their own thing. Surely, many of my former schoolmates have moved, started/finished Uni or even started a family. But to me, these changes don’t seem to matter much when everything inside of me has turned me into a completely different person. Can travelling ruin you? What are these changes all about? And what does “home” actually still mean? Two and a half years abroad. What has changed?
Not only do I seem to have become less and less picky and judgemental about who I’m going to spend time with, I also seem to have become pretty good at saying goodbye. It’s no one’s fault. From childhood onwards, we have been taught to be careful who we talk to. “Don’t talk to strangers! Don’t trust people you don’t know!” We all had to listen to these preaches over and over again. But what if “opening up to strangers” is suddenly part of your daily basis? Not only can these strangers turn into life-savers, whether it’s a simple lift or giving a hand with flat tyres, but they can also turn into your chosen family, far from your actual family. As an introvert, I could have never imagined myself talking to strangers and I’m still not the most social character, but I figured out, that the most amazing things happen when you expect it the least. Apart from that, I learned that everyone deserves a chance. Tattoos don’t mean a person is mean or aggressive and a pretty face doesn’t mean that someone is not trustworthy. Stereotypes need to be forgotten and forgiven if you want to survive all by yourself.
Still, there’s one part of the whole concept I don’t like: saying goodbye. Over and over again. Being constantly on the move means constantly leaving everything, you’ve worked so hard for, behind again: A friendship, a “second home”, maybe even a love-interest. Everything is gone within a second. And although we promise each other to keep in touch, both parties know it just doesn’t work out the way we both wished for. It hurts. Saying goodbye is the cruellest part about travelling and although I started to get pretty good at it, it tears me apart, every single time. Sometimes, the only thing I wish for is a firm base by my side. A person that I don’t have to say goodbye to after a few days/weeks. But some sacrifices are worth making if it gives you the opportunity to see the world.
Confidence and independence
I couldn’t have been any more insecure, being all safe and sound in my little bubble that I prefer to call “comfort zone”. Somehow, I still dared to take a big step and leave this comfort zone forever, starting my travels. But against expectations, it isn’t all that bad. Quite the contrary. There’s finally something building up inside of me that I have never gotten to experience before. Out here, all by myself, I finally learned to be not only independent but also confident. There’s no one that makes sure you’re safe and have a place to sleep. There’s no one that makes sure you know where you’re going and how you get there. In overall, there’s no one sitting by your side, planning your whole life, like it used to be. You’re suddenly all by yourself and you need to suss your life out on your own. But what if nothing goes right and you feel lost and would do anything to step back into this bubble? You can’t. There’s no going back or giving up in my world. As often as I have been pushed to the ground, struggling to cope, as often have I managed to get back up and fight back. And every single time made me stronger and more confident! I can finally say I’m okay on my own and actually thoroughly enjoy it!
Having the newest phone, the most expensive clothes and best-looking hairstyle plays an important, but sad role in todays’ world. The moment you start going to school, you get judged for what you have and how you look. The more things you own and the better they are, the more popular are you. And who doesn’t dream of finally belonging to the “cool kids”, especially when you have always been the complete opposite! It’s horrible, but that’s how society works nowadays. But there’s is one escape to all this: travelling. When you travel things like materialism, don’t matter. We all live on a budget, besides, there is more important stuff to spend your money on, rather than clothes/shoes etc. No one judges you for wearing the same outfit over and over again and no one shows off their brand new iPhone, as things like that simply don’t exist in a traveller’s world. Materialism suddenly seems to have become so unimportant and living on the bare minimum has become a standard. More than that: Sleeping on the floor, washing my clothes in the sink, living off instant noodles? Fine with me! The world is not all about what you HAVE, it should be more about who you ARE!
Now, what does the word “home” actually mean? I’m often asked whether I miss home. Honestly, the answer is not as simple as one would expect it to be. Home suddenly doesn’t seem to be so far away anymore. Home is not where it used to be. Two and a half years have gone by and I certainly don’t feel like my former “home” is my actual “home” any longer. I find it surprisingly easy to feel at home in the most awkward places: that stranger’s couch, my car, the bus that took you halfway across the country. Home is nothing like home anymore. Home can be anywhere. Home is where your heart is and not where you grew up! All these people that you used to be so close with, in your hometown, suddenly appear to have turned into strangers… It’s no one’s fault. It’s simply just the fact that you have changed and the person that you used to be, doesn’t seem to be part of your “home”.
Whether travelling ruins you or not, is all based on a subjective point of view. It definitely changes you! Not all for the good, but definitely for the better!
What do you think? How do you feel about being away from “home” or someone that has left “home” a while ago? Do you believe that it’s possible to forget about your roots while being abroad? Let me know!