We've all been there. That one moment where this realization pops in your head and very clearly states "I am unhappy with my life. Something needs to change."
Well, that realization has definitely hit me.
I am unhappy with my current life situation, and I know that I'm not going to feel fulfilled unless I fulfill the calling that I've had to travel. I've had "the bug" since I was 6 years old and I went on an airplane for the very first time to go to Disneyland with my mum. The furthest I've gone in Canada was to Ottawa -- for three days. I've only been to 3 of the U.S. states. I've never been to Europe. The furthest I've been was a week-long, all-inclusive trip to Cuba.
I need to see more. The fact that my month-long trip to Nicaragua has been threatened by lack of finances has really woken me up. I need to make this happen. I can't (read: won't) wait two more years before I get a chance to travel, and there will be no opportunities to go after August ends due to grad school: in the summers after this I will be taking jobs as a sessional instructor (should the position be offered) in order to gain more practical experience as a teacher, so chances for personal travel is pretty much a moot point. My only opportunities will be when I present my research at scholarly conferences, and even then I will likely be stuck between a hotel room and a university conference room.
Now that my rant is over, here are five reasons why I need to escape my current life to travel for the rest of it:
(1) The cultural experience
I am in love with culture. Everything from ceremonies and rituals to the way morning markets are conducted to the types of symbols that people tend to admire and/or worship. Not to completely demean my little piece of Canada, but I grew up in an area where 90% of the population came from Anglo-Saxon descent (including my family). I know the ins and outs of Canadian culture, and while I'm a sucker for a good plate of poutine, I want something different. I miss Mexican street food. I miss exploring every little nook and cranny of a region I know nothing about. I love the whole experience of getting to know a city and introducing yourself to it. It's what I've been yearning for from the moment I stepped back on Canadian soil.
(2) Languages (!!?!!?)
Given my area of study in school (linguistics), it should come as no surprise that languages are my thing. However, English is the primary language in Western Canada, and as ironic as it sounds, it is very difficult to find someone who is willing to do conversation partner exchanges in another language. In my experience, it usually ends up being conducted all in English, with the native speaker (me) explaining common expressions to the enthusiastic learner.
I miss speaking French. I miss speaking Spanish. I miss studying Chinese. I'd love to master them, and then some! I've never had a chance to speak French outside of Canada, and even then it was restricted to 6 weeks at a horse ranch when I was 15, and asking for directions to Jacques Cartier park while in Ottawa. For once, I'D like to be the learner, immersed in a culture where English isn't the norm! It was one of the things I thrived on while I was in Mexico... I was constantly learning new things to say, from asking for more hot water (not agua calor, but caliente agua) to thanking someone for their kindness after a very tense moment trying to locate a rental car (also for a later post).
Becoming competent in many language is on my bucket list, as a matter of fact... but that's for a later post.
(3) I don't want to spend the rest of my life in an office.
For some people it works. For me, it doesn't. I'm always my happiest when I'm outside, especially if I'm around some source of water. With my education heading in the direction it's going, that is exactly what I'm pushing myself toward, and I'm resenting every second of it.
This is not to say that I can't function in an office; in fact, I can manage well in one. All I'm saying is that after a period of time I tend to start feeling incredibly confined.
(4) My education is pushing me into a corner.
I read a couple of weeks ago from someone I follow on Twitter that she had been accepted to a Masters program in Humanitarian Action. As ashamed as I am to admit this, I got so green in the face that I swear my entire line of sight shifted to some shade of the same colour. I was envious. I was pissed off at her -- how come she got to live her dreams and I can't!? You know... the irrational jealousy that seeps in when you see people getting what you want and can't [currently] have.
It was at that point that I realized how deeply unhappy I was, and that I knew something had to be done. At this point, the only thing holding me back from skipping graduate school and spending the rest of my life living out of a backpack is the mountain of student debt that I have to pay off before I can make my dreams start happening.
(5) Traveling gives just as valuable an education as a classroom does.
In my opinion, my travel experiences have given me more world knowledge than a classroom ever has, but that's a matter of opinion: some people think that classrooms are the epitome of education as we know it. Everything from eating local food to couch surfing because you can't afford to spend your last few dollars on a hostel really changes you as a person. You learn to make decisions on the fly. You learn how to adapt to ever-changing situations. You learn how to compartmentalize stress and take care of things that need doing, knowing that when it's all over you can blow off the steam and find a new local beer to splurge on after you're done decompressing.
Did I mention that thanks to the GlobeTrotterGirls, I am seriously excited for Nicaraguan beer!?
When did you have your moment of clarity? What triggered it, and how did you react? Please feel free to share, and thanks for reading!
Note: To the girl on Twitter who posted about going to Dublin for her Master's - Congratulations on your accomplishment. I am very happy for you, and wish you all the success you can possibly achieve. I owe you eternal thanks -- you've opened up my eyes to see endless possibilities. Thank you.