Traveling or living abroad is such a chance to “broaden your horizons” (not to sound too much like a 1987 guidance counselor or anything). It’s a unique experience to reach in understanding and interact with the world new ways. This awkward grasping to understand the world around us reveal more parts of who we are and who we can be in a deeper and more holistic way.
If you think of a time you’ve traveled – to a new community, a new province/state, or a new country – it’s the small moments that made that experience great. Stopping and asking a local for directions and hearing a new accent or inventing a new way to communicate so you can get where you need to go. Or when you ask a local where to get the best food in town and it turns out to be a culinary delight you would have never found on your own. Or the moment of a stranger’s kindness at just the right moment to save you from terrible traveling tragedy. These moments make traveling great and fill us with a sense of hope for the world, for ourselves, and for each other. These are also the part about living abroad that makes it so great.
Where living abroad and visiting a place differ is that vacations come to an end; often just when you need them to because you are tired, and miss the comforts of home. The journey home can often feel more stressful just because you are so ready for your own bed, your own food, your own space. As I have been living abroad I don’t have the luxury of going home (or at least not without a plan of what comes next, where i’ll work, where i’ll live etc.). I find that if I am not careful my life just gets cluttered pretty quickly. My priorities get jumbled, and my feelings get stirred, and my heart gets billowy in all kinds of directions and it’s hard to make sense of who I am in this world. I am encouraged by my work, by friends, by my mentors to make sure I am doing self care and taking lots of time to rest up. But I think I am learning that this time needs to be more productive than just sleeping, cooking, watching movies, and hanging out with friends (although these are all great things in moderation). I think what I need to do is find channels that release the pent up emotions, and organize the clutter a bit so I can stay true to myself. When I don’t do that I lose sight of what matters, do things in excess that are unproductive, and just leave me feeling worse off than I am.
So Monday, you are still my least favourite day but here is to a new start to finding productive activities to help us all be a better version of ourselves this week.