Nothing beats the comfort of home. We know its every nook and cranny. We’ve made this space our own, and within these four walls, problems vanish into thin air. We know our neighbours, our street, our city, our corner of the world. We know who makes the best poutine in our neighbourhood, and we can provide tourists with directions to the Old Port. We buy our customary morning coffee at the bakery, take our daily walk to the subway station, and sip our weekly glass of wine with friends on a Friday night. Our habits, though reassuring and comfortable, are nevertheless a burden upon our brain. Our comfort zone lies in doing the same things, with the same people, in the same place, day after day. That’s life on autopilot and that’s how the majority of people live. Go beyond the familiar and you’ll find magic.
Little did I know that my journey halfway across the world would change my life forevermore. I said goodbye to my home, my job, my friends, my family, my favourite québécois dishes, the autumn colours of the Laurentians, and I boarded a plane on a one-way ticket.
People travel for any number of reasons. A vacation is one such reason. But it’s not mine. I’m embarking on a journey; one that could take months, perhaps even years. I’m disconnecting from my 9 to 5 life. Sometimes, we need to take the plunge and immerse ourselves in a world that’s new to us; one where the way of life and the very surroundings are foreign to us. We build a new life far from everything that is familiar, learning something new all the time, and living every day like it’s our last. That’s how we learn who we truly are and where we come from.
Perhaps that last sentence strikes you as absurd; after all, you obviously know yourself and the place you come from, right? Well, I thought so too. Here are three reasons why travelling afar will change you forevermore.
Learning every moment of every day
You meet a lot of people when travelling over a prolonged period of time. People whose background, language, and travels, are entirely different from yours. You can learn so much from them! And there’s so much you can tell them about (like living in a climate where the thermometer drops to -30). All of which makes for fascinating conversations. The locals will share their countries’ customs, traditions, and best kept secrets. Travellers will speak to you of their adventures and will ask you about your homeland. You’ll catch yourself speaking of your cultural background, and describing Canadian winters, from a slightly different perspective. You’ll visit places where day to day life is different from the one you’ve lived. For example, restaurant service, punctuality, clothing, transportation, social niceties… etc. Living in a foreign environment will expand your horizons and test your ability to adapt. You’ll find yourself re-examining old habits, you’ll discover new ways of living your life, and you’ll start seeing your cultural background from a different point of view.
Building a new life from scratch
If you stay in one place for a few months (or years), and especially if you work there, you’ll find yourself creating a new routine. Finding a room/apartment, making new friends, and undertaking activities that are almost entirely unknown to you; all of will be influenced by local customs and traditions. The relationships you build will be founded on the here and now. And when you tire of this routine, all you need to do is relocate to somewhere new!
Live every day like it’s your last
The best part of the journey is going to bed, looking back on the events of the day. You’ll think about the hike you took in the mountains, the dishes you tasted, the feeling of the ocean’s waves, the new friends you’ve made, and the new day that awaits you, a day that might be even better than the one before! When travelling, you do what you want to do, not what you are obliged to do. And that’s how I try to live on a daily basis. After all, why stop yourself from living a full life today when you could die tomorrow?
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