Recently I was reflecting back on the last 4 years of travels I have been through.So many lessons to be learnt from travels. I thought I would share some bits and pieces with you.
1. After travelling abroad, I know how to say “Exit” and “Toilets” in multiple languages. My journey to being polyglot has just started ….
I tend to travel relatively “casually”, meaning I am not reading guides or making intensive research on internet. Sometimes I probably should, as when I arrived in Prague and took the tube for the first time, I realized the alphabet was totally different from European one. My sense of orientation which is naturally not very developed got even more challenged at that point.
For those of you who went to Prague. Did you know that in Czech, Exit is Výstup ?
I did not and for a few minutes I wondered how I would make it for the coming 6 months. Needless to say how relieved I felt when I recognized that “walking guy” on the signalization : the international pictogram for Exit.
It is almost the same story for the toilets…
All jokes aside, by travelling I learnt to live outside of my comfort zone. I learnt to be flexible schedule wise, and in my way of thinking. Flexible in my ability to adapt to new situations even if I was not speaking the local languages. Surely, travelling has played a big role as I entered the “adult” world and learnt to be independent and grown up.
2. Travelling challenged my perception of the world
The level of comfort and relative safety I took for granted as I grew up in France got completely challenged as I started to travel. When I arrived in Brazil and was told I should not withdraw money from ATM in the street, or avoid wearing pricy clothes or jewellery… it made me realize that one should never take anything for granted. It taught me to appreciate what I have, and increased my culture awareness. Besides being careful and safe which was priority number one, it raised my curiosity to understand the world around me.
My experience in Middle East was also an interesting one. I was surprised by the size and the magnificence of the buildings, places. It was a daily race between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, to know which of those 2 cities would have the “highest” or the “biggest” in everything they would do. As beautiful as the Eiffel Tower is, her high is by now well exceeded by the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
What I like about travelling is that every experience is different. The purpose of travelling for me is not to compare a country with another one or decide which hotel was the best between the one in Ireland and the one in Mexico.Travelling taught me to enjoy and live in the moment as it stands.
3. The more you travel, the better you will be in mental calculation …
Thankfully Europe has its own currency ! Else we would still be trying to convert French Francs to Italian Lira…. Though most travellers will have to convert back to “local currency” at some point… Whether it is to make sure there is no over or under paying situation for example. I am sure I got it wrong from time to time. I recall being almost yelled at by an (American) taxi driver when I paid the right amount that was on the screen in the car : I did not know I had to tip… I will speak about culture awareness in another post : I was in my learning curve phase.
I also remember the gigantic smile of one of our taxi driver in Budapest when I tipped him. I just realized afterward I had been very generous. Maths has never been my favourite subject 🙂
4. The world will open up to you or you will open yourself to the world …
By travelling, we build ever lasting memories. We live moments that make us not totally the same as we were before. When I arrived in Prague, I was 23, and have never been abroad for more than 3 weeks. I was in a country where I could not speak local language, where I did not know anybody. Cherry on the cake : I did not dare speaking English because I was afraid one would laugh at my accent.
At that point I realized I had 2 very simple options : keep on being shy and take the risk of having a social life close to zero, or go ahead, speak the best English I can, and mingle with locals and expats. I took option 2 and I met a girl who is one of my best friend today. When I speak about Prague, I still have glitters in the eyes and a lot of funny memories. There is so much to say about this experience. After 6 months spent in Prague, this experience changed a part of me. This Czech adventure is one of the many “stones” that makes the person I am today.
5. “Not all those who wander are lost” – JRR Tolkien
I which I could have been the author of this quote but Tolkien did it before me 🙂
It is not because I like travelling and I am always looking for the next trip to take that my life is unbalanced. My passion for travelling is not fed by something I am trying to “escape from home”.
We travel because we love it.
Because nothing is ever the same again. Each experience is unique and resourceful. Simply because…
Credit for the picture is not mine. I got it at the following site : http://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/80961407/wander-ii-paper-print-inspirational