Edit Blog Post
Published: March 2nd 2011
NB: I thought I'd do a backlog of posts of travel-related writings that I've posted on Facebook before, but never shared publicy on a blog. This particular entry was originally written on Thursday April 23rd, 2009.
"Today I was musing a lot about the nature of overseas travel, how it changes and affects you, how it relates back to your 'normal' existence once you return home, and other stuff of that ilk. I was thinking how, on my pre-2008 overseas trips, which were always short (3-4 weeks at a time), despite the fact that I had wonderful experiences, met interesting people and was wide-eyed at the different cultures/landscapes/religions/etc I witnessed while on these trips...despite all that, I never felt like the experience CHANGED me, never felt like it had spurred me into wanting to live overseas, never made me feel like my 'comfort zone' life and job(s) in my hometown Melbourne were somehow insufficient for me. It was like: I'd go on these short holidays, have a good time and enjoy myself by having a break from work/stress/inertia for a few weeks, then then I'd complacently return to work and back into my normal routine...never realising the opportunities or
possibilities afforded by taking the chance of staying/living overseas for a longer period of time.
But that all changed in 2008, when my initial 2 and a half months' planned holiday in Europe, ending up being 9 months spent variously working/living in Serbia for a time and also backpacking around 13 other countries in Europe. It's as though, suddenly, I had this rush of confidence in myself that "Yes, yes I CAN live overseas, I CAN uproot myself and relocate/immerse myself in a totally different culture and language over a period longer than one month...it's not just something that 'brave' or 'crazy' people do, everything should feel the liberty to transport themselves to a place where they feel they belong and can find happiness there." And Serbia was that place for me - I was just overcome by the generosity and open-heartedness of the people, and their resilience, I felt such an affinity with them.
So anyway, I look over all the years of my life now, and the funny thing is this: because my (almost) year spent overseas in 2008 changed me so profoundly in the new things I learnt about myself and others and the natural
trials you have to face in living within a foreign way of living/culture/language, I feel as though the year of 2008 is completely removed from the rest of my life. It's as though, in one column, there's the years of my life right through from 1984 to 2007 and then skip to the current 2009....and in the other column lies only the year of 2008, it stands alone. It's like no matter how much I talk about my experiences of 2008 to people, there's this vast distance in meaning and experience, as I struggle to re-create and connect those 2008 experiences to the rest of my life...it just doesn't mesh! I feel now as though I stepped from late 2007 directly into early 2009, and 2008 was this fantastical elusive dream that I'll never be able to recapture, as though it was too good to be true to 'real life'.
2008 was a treasured year, a valued year, sometimes a difficult year, an important and profound year, a life-changing year. Yet how do I translate those feelings I had in 2008 of: wild freedom, wonderment at the world we live in, connectedness, happiness, 'maturing of the soul', sublime camaraderie/mutual
understanding between people from all across the globe communing as one, and ultimately BELONGING that I felt....just HOW do I apply those sentiments and experiences NOW, now that I've returned to an inertia-ridden and monotonous existence back in Melbourne, which no longer satisfies me, which I am no longer content/complacent with, which depresses me, which I feel so far removed from, like I no longer belong here. I feel like living in the ease and comforts of my hometown or home country is no longer enough or even bearable for me - yes, it is a privileged existence...but it's not privilege I seek, it's: wonder, difference, challenges, adventure...all of which I found by living overseas for almost a year, which is what I want to do again...but prolly somewhere else this time, like Latin America or Asia.
Lol, this is all such Sharni-style inane insomniac rambling, so I understand if none of it is at all coherent! But I'm suddenly reminded of a dear mate, who came home for a visit in 2007, after having lived overseas for over two years...and I remember something he said in particular. At the time he made a comment that it really did
feel like he had two separate lives: one in his home country/city, and another in his adopted country. I remember that, at the time, I think I laughed and I was thinking "Oh, what a funny/odd thing to say! I wonder how that could be so?!". And *smiles wryly*, it's only NOW that I can fully appreciate what he meant, as now that I've also had the experience of living overseas for a considerable/fair amount of time, I know exactly what he was talking about, as I share that feeling now also! Ah yes, the glorious shared feeling of displacement (for want of another word) - gotta love it!
Anyway, this nutty insomniac lady better finally attempt to sleep now...got good ol' workies tomorrow/today *groan*...enough with incoherent psycho-babble that prolly makes no sense to anyone but me! But these thoughts were swirling and snaking through my head all day today, so I had to get it off my chest!
Gute Nacht, meine Freunden! (Goodnight, my friends!)"
UPDATE: Since I wrote that post, I worked hard for 18 months in a customer service call centre for a telecommunications company in Melbourne, where I saved a lot of
money to travel for a long period again. So currently I'm in the midst of just over 4 months' of overseas travel, 3 months of which were spent in Iran and the rest in the UAE, Lebanon and finally Syria where I am now. Soon I will find out whether I can obtain a 1 year work visa for Iran in order to teach English there. If that eventuates, I will feel very proud that I've stayed true to myself/the spirit of this post from 2 years ago, where I had confidence in myself that I could live and work overseas if I wanted to, even with no academic qualifications, as is my case 😊
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