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The Four Phases of Traveling Abroad
The Four Phases of Traveling Alone
The thing about traveling is that it takes you places you’ve never been before. Not destinations, but places in your mind that you never knew existed. It is only when you are lost in the middle of nowhere that you realize you have it in you to take responsibility for your own self. It is only when you are stuck in one of the most crowded cities in the world, with no home and no place to shower, that you understand the true value of your home back in your at that-moment-very-far-away country. It’s the little things about your homeland that you surprisingly only discover when you’re thousands of miles away from it. Traveling is the realization that your vision of the world and of your life could not be any more wrong. It drains you physically and emotionally but it leaves you asking for more.
The cultural shock
You watch movies your whole life and you think you have this concrete vision about this country, but it is only when you are actually in that country that you understand its culture. It’s only when you are in Mumbai and on your first train ride that you really see what those trains in the pictures are really all about. When a woman literally tells you that you either push or get pushed to make it through the ride, yet at the same time offers you her seat because she knows you’ve been standing more than the woman who has been eyeing the very same seat. It is at that time that you realize that India is not the beautiful world you see in Bollywood movies, it’s not the beautiful people in the beautiful colorful costumes, but it’s the beautiful people with the kindest hearts who would literally offer you their last piece of bread.
The realization that you can make it on your own
You have all these doubts about yourself for after all you’ve always depended on your friends and family for almost everything, but then you are stuck in a completely unfamiliar country with no place to sleep, no place to take a shower, and somehow you find a solution. Somehow you make it without your friends help or your dad picking you up. You survive the day one way or another and it hits you. “I CAN DO THIS” you think to yourself. I’ve survived this and whatever comes next I can survive. It’s only on the other side of the world that you take real pleasure in the small accomplishments.
Realizing that your definition of home was pretty messed up
You’ve lived your whole life in one place. You know your country’s traditions by heart. You have your friends and the most amazing family in the world. You are home, and you think that nothing will ever come close to what your home is, but then you travel around the world and somehow you’re stuck with a complete stranger in an empty room with only two mattresses, and you get into this really deep conversation with them about life. A conversation you’ve never had before, probably one that you would not share with others back at your so called home, and you realize what it really means to be home. You understand that home is not the place where you grew up. It’s the place where you feel most comfortable, and somehow in that tiny dark room, you’ve managed to find home. You poured yourself out and you never forget this feeling and you discover that you will never be fully home again. You will go back to your hometown, and realize that a small conversation with a complete stranger was more than you ever had with most of the people that you thought before were home to you.
The endless craving for more and the “one more time”s
Suddenly your hometown that was once enough for you is enough no more, and you’re craving one more conversation from the ones you had abroad, or one last taste from whatever it is you tasted in Capetown. You look forward to another adventure where you get lost in the middle of nowhere and really experience what freedom is really like. You wish for one more experience where strangers drag you to trek a mountain even though you’re terribly afraid of heights only to make it to the top and experience a feeling of exhilaration that you never experienced before. It is at that moment that you realize that it’s not a travel bug, but that traveling is the oxygen that is keeping you breathing
© 2016 Nour Younis