I love going away to a foreign country. I think it’s an amazing experience. Seeing new places, meeting new people, tasting new foods and recipes, learning a few words, hearing different music, wearing special clothes…
Habits are changed. I tend to be more aware. Not completely in control, feeling a bit vulnerable, or more dependant on others around me.
The cutlure is different, traditions are not the same. The way of doing things can have a totally different meaning.
What is rude in one country can be the most common thing to do in another. What you value as a polite gesture in your country can be offending elsewhere.
This is why I love to travel.
Because it is humbling. Because it forces me to stop and think about why I do what I do. It changes my way of seeing things by offering new perspectives. It doesn’t necessarily change my values or what I believe in but it helps me understand why others do things differently. While I travel I become more aware of the influence of the culture and environment I grew up in. We are all shaped in some way by our experiences, by our surroundings, by paradigms we grew up with. Repeated over and over they become so strong we think they are the unique truth worldwide.
Traveling challenges that, it challenges our “truth”
Sometimes you realize just how lucky you are for what you have and have access to. Simple things become amazing and I find myself being grateful for aspects of my life I never paid attention to.
Other times you realize that things you thought were important, things you worried about, mean nothing or are completely futile or extremely simple to address if you look at them in a different way.
What I mean is that, if you are willing to be open minded and embrace the difference, traveling can shift the way you see things. The things are still there but maybe the lens are a different colors or have a better focus and everything seems more clear.
Traveling to a different country, to a different culture, being forced outside my confort zone is also something I find stimulating. I love the excitement of the preparation phase and the raw emotion of being afraid as the departure day gets closer, because yes I’ll admit, it is scary too. I was anxious a few months ago as I was counting the hours before I left for Bangladesh and I was also a bit nervous of spending a week alone in India. And then I love the calm, the stillness that settles in as soon as the plane takes off and I think “Ok, this is it” and enter a transition mode.
Traveling, for me, is always paralleled with a journey within.
It is when I travel that I learn the most about myself.
Because the pilot mode is turned off completely. It’s like having a blank slate and deciding how I want to decorate it.
Because I have more time to think and reflect.
Because I arrive in places where no one knows me.
Because there is always a moment when I am a bit scared, on the edge of panicking actually but I have to trust myself and dig deep to find inner strength and peace.
That forces me to grow. To think about how I want to do things. And why.
It’s not necessarily life changing. It’s the little things. In each new situation I can either confirm or shift my view, my natural way of doing something.
And sometimes it’s just acknowledging a part of who I am and accepting it.
Other times it’s become aware of an aspect of myself I want to improve or develop.
I am extremely grateful for the experience I had in Bangladesh. It wasn’t always easy or fun but I would do it again in a heart beat.
Thank you for your comments, for being virtually by my side. I didn’t always answer but read and appreciated all your messages.
I will probably write a bit more about my time in Bangladesh as I transition back to my Parisian life. And who knows maybe I’ll start writing about that too.
I enjoyed blogging. It forced my to put words on thoughts and feelings which is not something that always comes naturally to me.
Like they say in Bangladesh, Inshallah*.
(*if Allah wants.. as in “we”ll see what happens”)