In about a week, I’ll be heading to Europe for a bit of travelling, and then Germany for grad school. Naturally, I’m STOKED and every time I think of grad school, visions of myself in one of those nicely tailored suits (custom-made Dior of course) with one of those skirts that show off my assets nicely, and a lovely pair of black point toe suede Louboutins (for if you guys want to envision this particular scene with me), working for some international NGO or political organization dedicated to ending the Eurozone crisis or imprisoning political war criminals like something reminiscent off a Thursday evening TV drama.
Or something like that.
But back to the fact, which is that I’m very excited for grad school (other than for that one international politics course I have to take entirely in German – I’ll let you know how that goes).
And while I’m excited about going back to school after a year in the “real world,” I think that in between school, the real world, and then school again, there’s also a lot of things I learned (that doesn’t involve the complete works of Hemingway, and learning the art of articulation) from travelling.
Here it goes…
I used to love making plans, and I would always be one of those people where if something doesn’t go my way, I would do that special facial expression involving the narrowing of my eyes, as I meticulously plot out the downfall of whoever is in my way of getting exactly what I want (I sound so cool don’t I? Like a Bond villain!!).
But of course from travelling, you learn that it’s impossible for everything to be perfect. Something will always go wrong, whether it’s having your passport stolen by some stupid bastard in Barcelona, to being informed that you have to get a certain grenzübertrittsbescheinigung back to Germany or face being banned from the EU forever, and then have three different countries not know what to do with it (including Germany).
Life isn’t meant to be lived through some sort of fixed schedule (unless you’re an accountant), so it’s ok if plans don’t go according to…plan. In fact, embrace it. When random unexpected things happen, take them as chances to make something memorable, fun and crazy out of them (yeeaaahhhhhh!).
From travelling, you meet some pretty cool people. So cool in fact, that sometimes you begin to doubt your own abilities. It feels like no matter how good you are at something, there always seems to be someone better than you. Even if your life is perfect, there’s going to be some prince or princess in some random obscure European country totally living it up and having a better life than you. It sucks.
The truth is, there’s always going to be someone better than you if you believe there is. The only thing you can do is think about what your good at, and be the best damn person you can be at that particular skill. Even if your only skill is at being tall, than be the best damn tall person you can be – play basketball, help fetch things for elderly women from the top shelf of supermarkets, etc etc.
People tend to think of travellers as being more promiscuous than regular folks, and that’s because it’s mostly true. When people are travelling, there’s always a looming feeling of urgency in doing things. For example, if you meet a cute girl that you feel a connection toward, you better buy her drinks all night, tell her how gorgeous she is and profess your feelings toward her, or else you’ll never see, or probably even be in the same country with her ever again.
Or you may be afraid of heights, but all of a sudden, you might find yourself sky diving in New Zealand because hey, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, and you didn’t pay $1500 round trip for a flight to the other side of the world to do nothing.
When you travel, you become like this cool mysterious figure roaming the earth (at least that’s how I picture myself). The more you travel, the more you realize that if you don’t jump at the chance to do something at that exact moment, that chance goes away and you may never get that opportunity again. NEVER. EVER.
And the more risks you take while traveling, you get so accustomed to it, that you start taking more risks in your every day life. Risks= results. And then your friends wonder why you’re so cool.
The great thing about travelling, is that it’s a dream that’s really obtainable. Unlike starring in an Asian Pepsi commercial for example, where you have to go to Asia, somehow manage to meet with the CEO or art director or whoever of Pepsi Asia, and convince them that you’re attractive, enthusiastic, and got the dance and singing moves to sell soft drinks to billions of people (very tough competition!).
Whereas you could be a pizza delivery man, and still save up money to travel the world….and probably live like a king in Thailand. But just the same, you’ll have to deliver a lot of pizzas before getting there. Most travellers I know don’t come from wealthy families, but are still living their dreams. Sure it may have taken a summer, or months, or even a year of working your ass of, but if you can completely change your life in that length of time, that’s pretty amazing isn’t it?
I know a lot of people have that one special country they want to visit. When your dream is to visit South Africa or to live in Paris for example, and you make that happen….all of a sudden it seems like every other dream you have is possible. In fact, they’re not even dreams anymore, but goals.
(By the way, I’ve had my fair share of not so fun summer jobs that ranged from waitressing at a pub with a sketchy reputation after someone got knifed and almost died. And lets not forget that job I worked in Hell. Oops, I meant a telecommunications company whose name *merely* rhymes with Hell).
What are some things you’ve learned from travelling?