Why do we travel? How do you explain the lust of exploring new countries, cities and places?
I just discovered a post I had written a couple of months ago while I was still living in Singapore during my exchange semester. I will publish it as I wrote it at the time, without changing too much. In the meantime I’m back home (and very happy about being here)- well actually I’m sitting in an airplane heading to Prague for a long weekend…
Rainy season has started in Singapore and with it also the preparations for the final exams and presentations. Sitting in the library (& looking for every good excuse not to study) I wonder – what is it exactly that people look for when they’re travelling?
The travel bug and how to get rid of it
In February when I went backpacking for the first time in SE Asia I came back home with a massive travel bug. Never having heard of it I didn’t really know what was wrong with me. I didn’t want to come back and once I was back I wanted to leave straight away. I felt empty and meaningless being catapulted into the daily life in cold and snowy Switzerland. It took me weeks to realise the beauty I have around me, in what felt like the most boring place on earth: mountains, hills, cities, lakes and wonderful friends. Realising this I figured that it’s more about what happens in the inside of a person, what they believe and feel which lets them see places differently. Have you tried seeing your own city like a traveller? Sitting on a bench and enjoying the beauty of the skyline? I believe that every place has it’s own magic and that the best way of overcoming the urge to travel, which for me was a bad thing, is to discover more of what is around you. Take some time to smell the flowers, watch people and enjoy daily life with a more vigil eye.
Coming back from a month of complete freedom I felt put into a cage, but then I realised that it was one I had built on my own. I study, not because I’m forced to do so – but because that’s what I enjoy doing. Complaining is part of student life – but at one point I asked myself, why are you complaining? You want to get a degree and this is the path to do so. You don’t like it – then change! Travelling changed me in a way I wouldn’t have expected. I started enjoying the things I did and eliminating from my life those I didn’t. It’s pretty simple and I’m convinced that everybody can change to doing what the like with their life.
I met many travellers who were stuck in a certain place and didn’t want to go back and face the “reality” which was waiting for them at home. The “reality” which might eat you up. Travelling seems almost like a dream, where you can be somebody else, do things you wouldn’t even dare thinking of at home and at the same time see new astonishing things. What I keep wondering is why can’t you be the same awesome person back at home? If the “reality” is that bad to face, then running away thousands of kilometres away is not the answer on a long term basis. Go home and face the problem. Change your life and enjoy what you do. If you want to be a certain person and have discovered a new side of yourself while you were abroad, why change once you’re back? I believe that we all agree that travelling can be amazing and a great experience, bringing you to explore your limits..but do you really want to do it for the rest of your life? Could you see yourself living in hostels, being broke and not having any long term commitments of any type?I’m not saying not to travel, but I firmly believe that one should enjoy coming back home.
Home is where the heart is
I’ve been in Singapore for over 3 months and before in Japan for a month. People ask me if I’m glad to see the light at the end of the tunnel and to go home “soon” – and when I say that I am, and that I can’t wait to be back home everybody believes I didn’t like it here. Home is where my heart will always stay (maybe also in Paris) and I miss it every day. I’m going to miss all my newly made friends, the fast pace of Asia, the skyline, food, weekends on the beach and yes, also the weather and wearing flip flops on a daily basis because you’d through away every other pair with this rain. But that doesn’t mean I want to spend my whole life here or anywhere around the world escaping responsibilities, “regular life” and the famous “reality”. After having seen 36 countries in the past 21 years and having lived in 3 of them I’ve learned that one should always enjoy what is around oneself and make the best out of it. I’ve found a place I can call home and I never want to be put back in the situation of hating the place I’m staying in (which I firmly believe is one of the nicest cities in the world).
I encourage all my friends to try and leave everything behind, take only the bare necessities with you and leave for the unknown. It’s an experience that will change the way you look at things (and if not you’re sure to have plenty of great memories). But coming home is the hardest part to cope with. Once you’ve swam with sharks, petted tigers, jumped down cliffs or danced until the sunrise you’d believe it will be the easiest part – at least for me it wasn’t.