10 THINGS I LEARNED WHILE TRAVELING



Most people reach a point in their lives where they abandon life in their home town in favour of exploring the world. They quit their jobs, move somewhere new and experience life with a new perspective. I’ve done this twice. First I went to Asia, and then a few years later I went to Europe. Each time I had a different reason for leaving, those reasons aren’t important now. But the lessons I learned while abroad have shaped the person I am today.

1] WE ARE ALL THE SAME, NO MATTER WHAT LANGUAGE WE SPEAK, FOOD WE EAT OR PLACE WE LIVE
When you’re young and you travel abroad for the first time, you expect to be overwhelmed by new and exciting things. You expect people to be cooler, more interesting, more diverse, and more tolerant. They aren’t. People are the same all over the world. They care about the same things we do. The nicest people I have ever met have been South African. The most patriotic South African’s live abroad though.

2] CRIME IS EVERYWHERE
In South Africa we tend to polarise our crime stats. As if they only happen to us. The truth is, there is crime everywhere. The same precautions I would take when going out in Long Street, I would take when going out in London, Tokyo and New York.



3] I DON’T NEED TO OWN THINGS
When I lived abroad, it always felt temporary. My home never felt like my forever home. A couch was never something I owned, it was always something I had, purely because I needed somewhere to sit. This sort of mind set is liberating. When I came home and spent time with friends that hadn’t travelled I was taken aback by all the stuff they had. All the things they owned or were still paying for. It seemed so unnecessary. Now I see it differently, my possessions aren’t an extension of myself, they are merely life’s accessories, things I have to make my life easier. Is this how I know I am a grown up?

READ MORE ABOUT HOW I HAVE SINCE EMBRACED A MINIMALIST LIFESTYLE > 


4] THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE I SPOKE TO THOUGHT THAT SOUTH AFRICA WAS A GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION & NOT A COUNTRY
No I didn’t mean I come from the South of Africa, I do yes, but actually, South Africa is country.


5] MAKING FRIENDS AS AN ADULT IS TERRIFYING
In all the time I have spent abroad, there are only 2 people I actually refer to as friends. These are friendships I cultivated on my own, independent of mutual friends. There is something so scary about putting yourself out there and trying to make friends with people when you actually have no real friends. It’s a lot like dating… Will they like me? Will they call? Is it too soon to suggest a follow up “date”? It takes bravery.


6] THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR FAMILY
The worst thing I experienced while abroad was each Christmas I spent away from my family. I wasn’t alone. I was around another family. But even so, the loneliness I felt is something I will never forget.

7] I LEARNED HOW TO GET REALLY DRUNK
I’m a lightweight drinker. Just 2 glasses of wine and I’m tipsy. Somehow, this does not apply when travelling. I found myself able to drink insanely large amounts of alcohol and get superbly wasted with none of the fall out I would experience at home. How? I’ve tried to recreate this drinking stamina and I don’t mind telling you, I failed. Miserably.

8] THE NATIVES WILL EXPECT YOU TO EAT THEIR FOOD...
I've eaten whale. I've eaten lutefisk. I've eaten raw eel. I've eaten bugs. They all tasted horrible and I pretended to enjoy each of them. It's just what you do.

9] THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS BAD WEATHER, ONLY BAD CLOTHING
This is a saying I heard in Norway. It's stuck with me ever since. Rainy days spent on the couch are a home time luxury. When you're traveling, weather patterns happen independently of your days plan. When I was in Japan I went to the beach during a cyclone. When I was in Oslo it was -26 on my birthday. I went out and celebrated regardless. The weather cannot stop a good time.



10] LONG-TERM HAPPINESS IS NOT SOMETHING YOU WILL FIND AT THE END OF AN AIRPLANE RIDE
I think in many ways, some quite obvious, others more subtle, I was running away from life when I chose to live abroad. The biggest lesson I've learned is that there is no running away. Whatever unhappiness you feel at home will follow you. A change of scenery, while good for the soul, is not some magic cure for all of life's problems.

Nikki Lincoln

Thanks for reading my little blog! I'm Nikki, writer, mom, passionate foodie and bookworm. In addition to my blog, I also craft creative and engaging content for various FMCG brands and a few events companies.

On my blog you'll find parenting tales, tips and advice, occasionally a recipe or two, products reviews and once in a while even a giveaway. If you'd like to say hi or find out more about working with me or my writing services please pop me a mail: nikki.lincoln@gmail.com

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