As readers have probably picked up around here, travel is one of my big dreams – and now that I’ve hit my emergency fund target, it’s actually a dream that’s now a speck on the horizon! So I’m stoked to bring you this guest post by blogger Bella Paige.
Travelling is taking you out of your comfort zone so delicately – capturing your attention in the surroundings rather than the self; opening your senses to new joys; making you live for the moment; teaching you tolerance, awareness; and – possibly transforming you into a travel junkie who never gets enough of it.
I haven’t travelled much – yet, but have done enough to not hesitate to pack and go at any time. In order to get to that point, however, I had to confront my mediocre view of the world and accept things the way they are, rather than constantly compare and evaluate them.
So, here I was: A nineteen-year old high-school graduate from Europe going to pursue a college degree in the United States of America. That was my first time abroad, and all I knew about the U.S. was from the movies and the Internet, which I thought was enough to get excited about.
The excitement, however, vanished the moment I landed on the foreign land: “It is nothing like in the movies” came to mind instead. Nothing like I ever imagined.
The thing about travelling is that you start paying attention to the greatest detail. And what do you think were the first things I noticed when I arrived in South Georgia? It was the creepy Spanish moss on the trees, the squirrels, the fire ants, the empty streets, the large green-grass areas in front, back and in between the houses, and not a single human outside. “Where’s the people?” I thought.
It appeared that this small South Georgian town comes alive when all the students return at the beginning of the semester – which was about to happen in the next couple of days. These were the longest two days in my life during which I had all these crazy ideas about going back to Europe. When I weighted the efforts and money I invested to get to this point, however, I changed my mind and decided to give it a shot.
For months, I couldn’t free myself from the urge to criticise the Southern accent, the food, the weather, and the people who were greeting me without even knowing me.
Everything was so much better back home. I was in “the phase of denial” as I was calling it, and have to admit, this negative attitude was pretty exhausting.
To brighten my days, I was travelling as much as and whenever I could, and so I found myself partying on a boat in a lake in Atlanta, walking at Oceans Drive in Miami, tubing on a river, canoeing in a lake with alligators, riding the highest at the time roller coaster in Ohio, taking pictures from The Empire State Building’s top in New York, smoking hookah in Washington D.C., eating lots of big fat juicy burgers wherever I went, watching 4D in Universal Studios amusement park, playing beer pong with the locals, camping, and so unbelievably much more. Not to mention the people I met from all over the world and all the stories I heard about how they came to America and what their cultures were like.
All this officially brought me out of my comfort zone, and for a first time I was not fighting to stay in it. Instead, I fully opened my senses to the taste, smell, rhythm and look of life across the Atlantic, and became part of it.
That’s the thing about travelling – it makes you feel like you belong to the world, rather than to a specific country. Wherever you go – will always meet people to be your friends, and will find places, foods, customs, etc. to be your new favourites.
The Spanish moss was not creepy anymore, and I even found it charming, especially when the trees were blooming in the spring. I loved the smiley faces and the people greeting me without knowing me. I tried to feed the squirrels, and enjoyed the quietness in the town when students were gone at the end of the semester. I was in “the phase of acceptance” as I like to call it.
I’m back in Europe now, and I miss everything there was on the other side of the ocean. I did not simply get used to the life there, but learnt how to feel comfortable even outside my comfort zone – the transition was dynamic and smooth – and that’s the charm of travelling.
I’m going on a trip again, soon. I can’t wait to see what else is out there and maybe this time I will head to Australia and New Zealand. After that, who knows. It’s an addiction I never want to wean myself off.