On May 15, the next adventure begins.
Stay tuned…exciting posts to come.
On May 15, the next adventure begins.
Stay tuned…exciting posts to come.
It took until I was twenty-three, a second chance and the epiphany that life was never meant to be lived in a metaphorical box for me to decide that travel was the only logical path I could take to open myself up to the world.
It began when I was twenty years old. Like many people my age, I was attending university. I was struggling a bit, not really finding my place. I didn’t know what I wanted to major in, I couldn’t keep my focus on any particular subject and, for the absolute bloody life of me, I couldn’t picture what my life would be like post-academia. Not ten years, not five years. Not even a year. You know, when you ‘grow up’, pursue your career, achieve the goals you’re meant to set when you’ve graduated high school. To keep a long story short, I eventually left school. Though I loved the ‘university’ style of being taught to think outside of the box, the classroom setting proved not to be where I could really learn valuable lessons that would teach me where my potential for a happy, balanced self would be achievable. I suffered from severe anxiety.
Age twenty-two - Upon moving home with feelings of utter defeat, a quiet voice within reminded me of my childhood dreams of seeing the world. Was I actually capable of this? Could I be one of ‘those’ people who could live out their visions fearlessly and ambitiously? Well..perhaps not fearlessly, but I decided to plan for it anyway. A working holiday. After about a year of saving every penny I earned, I had to stop myself again. What on EARTH was I doing? I could NOT do this! I had enough anxiety to hardly be comfortable in many social situations, let alone bring myself completely outside of my comfort zone and learn how to meet new people again.
Let me tell you, it took a lot of self-analysis and soul-searching before I decided to take on the challenge and think of it as something of a form of self-therapy and emotional experimentation. I didn’t have a single thing to lose. My first stop was London, UK. My second would be Helsinki, Finland – a city I had dreamt of visiting after falling in love with their music scene and their history/culture. Yeah, that’s right! I booked myself to fly to a country where English wasn’t a native language. In my panicked state, among a thousand other worries, I wondered if anyone would understand me. Well..it definitely didn’t take me long to learn that most people in urban areas speak English perfectly well. People were overwhelmingly welcoming and friendly. I was inspired. I’m not exactly sure what it was about it, but a visit to this cold country warmed my heart. I would come back again.
My ultimate destination was Edinburgh, where I’d find work. Many travels, laughs and wonderful spontaneous friends later, I’ve become rather learned in social culture, history and language. I’ve met some incredibly awesome people, too. I’ve broken myself out of the mould, done something completely different and inspired myself to open myself up to every new experience possible. I’m happy to say that my anxiety is at a normal level and I’ve learned to control it – this would never have happened if I hadn’t taken that monumental step for myself to ‘break out’.
To sum it all up, I’d like to hope this will have inspired even a single reader who might even slightly doubt their ability to travel. It’s the best education I’ve ever received in my life thus far, it’s helped me break through many an emotional barrier and it’s something that inspires and motivates me to continue doing something new every day without a second thought. It may sound cliché, but folks, when someone says that life’s short – it really is. We’ve got one go at this and we should never hold back our dreams for ourselves.
Roll on New Zealand, I’m ready for ya!
I just wanted to point out a few things that completely set apart short periods of travel from life in a foreign country (for me, anyways). I honestly wish it were realistic for me to spend more time in all the countries that I’ve visited over the past few years – a girl can dream – but for the one that I did get the opportunity in which to live and work, as well as serving as inspiration for the two countries I will be living in the near future, I want to highlight the absolute best aspects of working abroad.
1. Making friends with locals, tourists and fellow working holidaymakers.
I dare say it’s the best and most sound reason to work abroad. At first, I spent my first three months living in an 8-bed dorm in a city centre hostel. While it was really, really amazing to meet all sorts of transient/nomadic travellers, there were also a lot of people just like me, looking for a means to live there.
When I eventually began working at a tourist attraction and becoming something of a ‘local’ myself, it was a changing experience. The difference between living in a hostel amongst like-minded travellers and working alongside people who’ve lived in the area their entire life is rather drastic! I should also stress that working in a touristy place that attracts international attention is that of a unique one – working with locals, but with guests who are visiting the city from around the globe make for what I’d call quite an interesting mix of culture.
What I’ve found is that it made for the best experience to be able to interact with both tourists and people who call Edinburgh home. People who are on a trip have a tendency to always be up for brand new adventures around the city/country, and people who live in that particular country are already going to know where all the cool places to go are, what there is to do, etc (not to mention getting a feel for what life’s like there and all that wonderful stuff!).
2. Learning about yourself
As someone who is self-analytical (to a fault) by nature, I learned a lot just by placing myself in a totally unfamiliar environment. It’s pretty amazing what you can learn about yourself – your limits, new-found interests, your ability to depend on yourself, setting and achieving goals, and, probably most importantly, how capable you are of accomplishing great things.
3. Working holiday = MORE opportunity for travel
Just because you’re living and working at a destination of your choice doesn’t mean you can’t stray elsewhere..
Because I was working with a major focus on travel in mind, and because I moved to a place that was incredibly accessible to the rest of Europe, I was able to travel to places I had only fantasized about. I was able to do a lot of travel both within the UK as well as throughout Europe!
I’m not going to lie, the best part of deciding to travel in Europe is how INCREDIBLY AFFORDABLE it is! Fly to Norway for ten quid? Italy for twenty or thirty? Sure! At home in Canada, I’d be shelling out hundreds of dollars to go the exact same distance for far less exposure to different cultures. Ryanair and Easyjet, I love you. <3
4. Experiencing the culture and the history first-hand
Well, I wouldn’t say that there is a massive gap between Canadians and Scots when speaking about culture – much of Canada’s predecessors’ are that of colonizing Brits anyway, so, pfft, we’re practically siblings in national identity. What I CAN say is that there’s definitely a lot more history still alive in Scotland and it speaks volumes in their culture, their values and even their sense of humour.
Perhaps my favourite and most extreme/amusing example is a man who has christened himself ‘Lewis, King of Scotland. He’s a poetic bard of a rather rough exterior who walks the High Street and surrounding areas of Edinburgh regularly, spouting words of wisdom through the majesty of his poetic/lyrical medium.
My point, though, is to stress that if you were to spend less time where you travel, you may not have the chance to encounter the little quirks, characters, and cool ‘underground’ places that make the destination what it truly is.
I’ve learned a LOT more just from travelling than I ever had in a structured educational system – and there’s something of a satisfaction that comes from teaching one’s self by choice rather than by obligation.
P.S. Is there anything about travel/UK/working holidays/tourism in general that you’d like me to write about? Let me know!
I’m not leaving on my next phase of travels for a few months yet – but I think I’ll try and do a bit of posting about my past ventures. I spent two years living in Scotland (the majestic land of kilts, haggis, scotch whiskey and resident Groundskeeper Willies), which in itself was one of the easiest and most scenic countries in which to travel.
While I spent a lot of time working in the hauntingly beautiful city of Edinburgh, I was definitely no stranger to the rest of the United Kingdom and, any time I had the chance, I’d catch a flight to some of the places in Europe I’d only dreamed of seeing in real life.
I digress – I’m going to keep this one short. Stay tuned for more magical postings!