In the last four years, I’ve lived in three different countries. It is completely true when people say that traveling changes you and makes a better version of you. But it also changes everything you once thought, knew and believed. Traveling also makes you appreciate home. No school can prepare you for the things that are waiting outside comfort of your own country and no school will prepare you so much as living abroad. I’ve learned so much about the world and, most importantly, about myself.
Those who have never travelled haven’t really tried looking at something from outside in. They’ve never looked at their home from a place thousands of miles away, missing it and understanding it in a way they’ve never known before.
They’ve never seen a completly different world, with different ways of living and existing, with different trees, plants, animals, smells and tastes. They’ve never felt like a foreigner or an immigrant.
They’ve never learned new words or new religions, tried unknown food or followed weird laws, celebrated new holidays or festivals.
Travelling changes you, and the more you travel, the more clearly you see your home. If you’re traveling to third world places you will quickly learn how lucky you are to have had the childhood you did and the home you had.
Home sweet home and my family
It took me thousands of miles to see how much I miss my home and my family. This is the biggest sacrifice I have made to be able to travel. Soon, I realised how much I am attached to it (despite being such a loneliness loving introvert).
My mom’s cooking, my dad’s crappy jokes, my brother’s cheeky food snatching, my grandma’s tea times, my granddad’s crazy driving – all these little things of my life, became the major things I miss the most, which reminds me why I call that place home.
Travelling gives us so much but it also takes so much from us. I’ve missed birthdays of my family and friends, I’ve missed weddings of most of my friends (all decided to get married when I was far away), I’ve missed already two Christmases and I’m going to miss the following one too (always the hardest time of the year for me), I’ve missed my friends becoming moms, I’ve missed so many coffee chats where you can discuss all the silly things that matter. Even though I talk to my family and friends, its got to the point where we ask each other “How are you? What’s new?” as there are no longer those silly little things you shared together on daily basis and I’m worried I’m losing my friends.
Also, when you decide to live abroad it’s harder to find new friends – most of the time, they are on the same wave as you. In a year or two your ways will split again as you move to explore another foreign land and you are at the beginning again. Finding new friends for another year or two knowing that one day you will have to say Good bye, can be tough.
Every day challanges
We upload amazing pictures on our Facebook and Instagram, lots of smiles, jumps, spectacular beaches. Everyone tells you how lucky you are to travel so much. The bottom line is that the grass isn’t always greener.
Whilst certain countries might look idyllic from the outside, the cold, hard reality is that half the time, the way of life there is a struggle, and the beautiful scenery and weather is the pay off for having to struggle a lot of the time.
People who don’t travel don’t see the this side of it – every time you move you have to start from nothing in a foreign country with an unknown language, with unfamiliar laws and customs and without your family and friends for support. It takes some time to find out where to buy things you want (if they even sell them), which doctor you should go, which phone operator is the best, where in the new city is the best to live, or how to move around the new city.
My biggest challenge right now in Vietnam is to pay our rent since as a foreigner you are not allowed to do online transfers and you have to bring your passport, visa, housing contract to be able to pay the rent. Also you are not allowed to transfer money to any other account but the ones in your name (BIDV bank). It can be a never-ending challenge.
Those things you can’t live without
Whether it’s curd (which I miss it so much), mushroom picking or walking in the beautiful forest – some of those underrated things you took for granted for so long become things you suddenly realize you could never live without.
I’m always looking forward to go visit my parents and eat with them all traditional Czech dishes or to go for a walk in the pine forests and enjoy the lovely smell.
It’s a beautiful thing to see these things in a different way and appreciate them even more.
The language barrier
When you move to another country, you try to fit in as much as possible. You will learn new customs and habits pretty fast. But the language might be a problem for a long time.
I’ve lived in Vietnam for 9 months now and I’m unable to communicate more than basic numbers, asking for a price, giving directions (turn right, left, go straight – that’s all), naming five animals and saying thank you and sorry. I cannot even pronounce or remember how to say “How are you?” – quite important, don’t you think?
You realize what an amazing feeling it is to be able to say what you mean to say. I miss talking to people around me, to feel like a real citizen. The ability to express yourself perfectly into the smallest details and be understood, is a feeling that was previously unappreciated.
Once you’ve moved thousands of miles away, crossed the ocean and experienced the difficulties and problems in other countries, the petty problems of your past life no longer seem as problems you should have been worried about.
Those problems become insignificant and irrelevant in comparison to everything you’ve seen, done and experienced.
Once you have eaten food you couldn’t pronounce, tried to find your new house, make new friends, learn new languages and adjust to a new culture, customs and laws, you get to know what home means to you and everything else seems like a piece of cake. So don’t forget to appreciate home and those silly things you take for granted.
What challenges have you had to face? How did you overcome these issues? What helped to appreciate your home?