Now that I’m settled into my new home (apartment), these are a few last contemplations about my journey.
A few indispensable items
1) Black fleece. It appears in 99% of my pictures, but I swear I did change the clothes underneath it.
2) Kindle Fire (a mix between an e-reader and a tablet but at a fraction of the price of an iPad). This was amazing not only for checking email at wifi spots, but mainly for reading on buses because the font can be made extremely large so that it doesn’t aggravate motion sickness. I have managed to read over 5000 pages in the past six months and for the most part kept up with the Wall Street Journal digital edition.
3) Peanut butter because it’s stock full of protein and a cheap easy meal to take along on my 10-15 mile urban hikes I’m so fond of.
I have learned a lot (because I do truly view this as an educational experience – it’s definitely not all fun and games). At a minimum they have been “character building” exercises, and hopefully these skills will be transferable into my new career.
1) First and foremost is becoming comfortable while being in uncomfortable situations. This sounds like an oxymoron, but I assure you I was constantly testing and expanding my comfort zone, so that it’s like my brain has been lifting weights continuously for five months. My mind has no doubt gotten stronger – though right now it just wants to rebel against me and hibernate.
2) Problem – solving. Traveling, especially in developing countries, you learn very quickly that things don’t always go according to plan, and thusly you have to be flexible enough to adapt to the current situation and creative enough to problem-solve your way out of it.
3) Cultural exposure. As the cliché goes: the world is a global place and I’m optimistically a step or two ahead with understanding different cultures and people.
4) Patience. Ok, I’m still working on that one because I still get very aggravated at inefficiencies. In my mind everything should run like a well-oiled, profit-earning company, but obviously that’s not how the real-world actually works. But at a minimum I am aware of my shortcoming…
Differences from my trip a couple of years ago.
1) This time I am coming back to something – grad school. To know what is coming next provides a huge sense of relief and purpose. Though unfortunately this choice is not a boon to my bank account…
2) I did much less planning this time around. Part of this is because I am more comfortable with uncertainty now, and part of this is because of the locations I visited. Not having something booked in Australia could result in the decision to either sleep in the car or spend a fortune on a fancy hotel room which would blow the budget for the entire next week. Not having something booked in Egypt allowed me to negotiate a better deal than websites listed…
3) Traveling by myself. I met so many more great and interesting people on my trip this time around than I did the first time. Though it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, I feel I learned a lot more going it solo.
Unfortunately my travel habit/addiction will have to be curbed for a couple of years while I am in school and then while I’m paying back my private school tuition… However, if all goes according to plan, I will get a job with an international portfolio of projects. Then I will still get to travel, but this time on an expense account and getting paid for it!
My final thought is that I’m more than happy to dole out advice/opinions/etc. about traveling to anyone who is interested in listening to me ramble – so just ask!