Travelling has always been in my blood; my parents met in Saudia Arabia, I always went on exotic holidays as a kid and my dreams always consisted of new destinations.
My first ‘real’ experience of travelling was when I was nineteen and I decided to travel to the USA to become a camp counsellor for three months. This first trip then sparked my passion into reality, so much so, that I participated in the Camp America programme for a further two years. Here’s some pictures:
2011: YMCA Fairfax – Reston County, VA
2012: Camp Waukeela, NH
2013: Camp Waukeela, NH
After those three memorable summers, I felt I had to find a graduate job and try to be an adult. It was good; I found new freedom and respect in my profession. However, being limited to 28 days a year annual leave and living for two weeks in the sun each year, left me feeling trapped. This is why I then pursued my passion and headed down under.
I’m in no way an expert and have barely covered the world in my footsteps, but as then rain pours down in Sydney, I’m feeling that today is a time to reflect on my journey so far.
I’ll be covering all sorts of topics, starting with the con and moving to the pro, since that’s the kind of optimistic person I am!
Con: the weeks and days before you actually go are the best as the people you love will spend more time with you and celebrate this new path you’ll take. However, when those parties end you’ll realise the reality of it all. I remember the week before I left to come to Oz my mum and I spent so much time together, it was lovely but also so emotional. The night before you go is the worst as you’ll question every decision you have made and feel so god damn nervous.
Pro: as I said above, you will feel unbelievably loved from your leaving parties and will realise how you’ve touched people’s lives. And once you’ve said that dreadful goodbye, this new feeling takes over; wonder. You feel free, excited and eager to see what awaits you.
Con: coming from a well paid salary was difficult to adjust to because you don’t get paid for being off sick and for taking holidays. Also living in Sydney is bloody expensive; to get an apartment here you have to pay a huge bond (usually $1,000) and rent comes out weekly. You work your ass off cleaning, cooking, serving and can barely make ends meet, whereas in my comfy office job I just sat on a computer all day (I still worked hard but not physically) and was paid so well.
Pro: you, finally, learn how to budget. You can’t rely on mum to give you money all the time so you learn quickly how to spend it wisely. Also being part time means you get paid over time and receive increased rates when its a weekend/holiday.
Con: my god do you miss your friends back home. The people you grew up with, the people who you share so many memories with and who’s house you could wander into even if they’re not there. When travelling you’ll meet a ton of people, some you will not be able to stand (I had one girl at camp who constantly wanted to undermine me and sucked up the asses of all the senior members of staff) and others you will unknowingly offend as you have different cultural ideologies (I tried to help with my Swedish friend’s love life to which she took immediate offense and said I was far too meddling).
Pro: on the flip side, you will meet people who’s outlook on life is inspiring (Tash and Ben, as they’re following their dreams whilst staying grounded) and people who just have the same passions as you. My friends back home are all pretty much settled so travelling never was a burning desire for them, so now I have friends who do want to see the world. You will also meet people that you just instantly connect with and will form an instant bond with (my lovely Brazilian co worker).
Con: you will have to do some really shitty jobs as you are an expendable member of staff, you aren’t an asset and you just need to get things done. You won’t be treated as a professional and will not be recognised for your skill set. Luckily I haven’t encountered this yet but I’m preparing myself.
Pro: you can be anything you want to be. The world is your oyster and if it pays, you can work it. The freedom of this is astonishing.
Con: I didn’t realise that there was a checklist of things to do when travelling (especially in Australia). For example, you ‘need’ to do the east coast and these following things: Great Barrier Reef, Whitsundays, Fraser Island, skydive on mission beach etc. My friend and I decided to some of the things of the list but not all as they were way overpriced and I couldn’t handle jumping out of a plane. So now people we’ve met since have all done the items we haven’t I feel that I’ve missed out on something.
Pro: the list of things to do is a great guide for when you first arrive as it eases you into the country. You just need to be strong and think ‘what do I want to experience and what do I think is fun’. So although my friend and I didn’t do all of the east coast items, we instead went to small Aussie towns and made friends with the locals; we camped on a quiet beach and went fishing and we went whale watching instead of getting drunk for three days straight. Don’t get sucked in to the tourist traps, always think of your desires first.
Con: as I stepped foot into my first hostel and camp, I felt that I was back in high school. There were well established cliques and you needed to be part of them. I felt as I had to put in so much energy to make an impact and take on the interests of the group. Travelling around Oz I didn’t realise how high the drug/rave culture is. Not going to lie, a girl from a small town with innocent friends, I was scared. I went along to some raves but only stuck to alcohol. I looked at the people on drugs and saw that they were in some sort of euphoria but when I realised they worked hard all week to achieve this, I didn’t see if it was worth it. People love to sleep around in hostels too and there’s always some drama, call me a granny but I’d be gutted if a guy I really like spent a night with me and then a German girl in another bunk the next night.
Pro: you do learn things about yourself, the good and the bad. For me the bad is that I’m too nice and let people walk all over me (something I am working on). The good; I’m compassionate, I’m passionate, I’m no longer lazy and I’m cheery. Since being out here I have lost two stone, which helped me realise that I was severely unhappy back home and eating was my only comfort. I’ve also learned that I need to stop trying to impress others by slotting into their cliques and stop thinking if I’m getting the same travel experience as others.
Con: it’s unknown, you can’t make any long term plans and that moment you do choose to settle will be a very strange feeling, that’ll will take time getting used to.
Pro: it’s unknown; you will feel when it’s right to settle, you will understand what you want to work as and who you want in your life, but to achieve this takes time. You didn’t get a mortgage, get married and have babies because society told you to – you did it for yourself and will never wonder ‘what if?’ because you lived for you and no one else.
Well that’s my take on travelling, do you guys agree? Would you add anything to this list?