18 to go now!
18 to go now!
January 7th 2014 was a big day for me: I finished my last exam and got my Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work. It was the biggest relief I have ever felt. I have been in school since I was 5, sick of it since I was 18. Now I am 22 and I am DONE. It’s mostly been a dreadful experience, but it’s over now, and I can be proud of what I’ve accomplished, since I have been the biggest slacker for the last 3.5 years.
I have been in a permanent state of stress since the Winter of 2012 because of a constant stream of exams and tiring courses, I thought I could relax and just enjoy myself for a while, now that I was done. Not happening. I had one week to move out of my home of two years. A small, newly built place with cheap rent and within walkin distance to pretty much everything. I’ve loved living alone and couldn’t imagine having to go back to a small bedroom and sharing the couch with someone else. Now that’s my life again.
By the 15th of January I had boxed up some of my belongings and brought them over to my dad’s place. Here I have borrowed my sister’s (and occasionally my stepsister’s) room until March, when I take off to India. The first night at my dad’s was weird. Trying to cook in a new kitchen, sleep in a new bed and show respect for another person’s things while trying to feel at home. I felt like I had made a huge mistake. Being on my own is more comfortable most of the time, but I know it’s for a bigger cause: I’m trying to follow my dream and detach myself from things. I realized quickly that it’s not the things, but the idea of personal space that is so hard to let go of.
There is a lot of paperwork to do when you graduate, move and plan a long trip. It’s been more stressful than any exam could ever be, because this is the real world. It’s not theoretical, it’s real and it’s all on you. Luckily, I just got my Indian Visa, which I was super nervous about, as the application form was super confusing. Almost to the point of tears. You also bleed money even before you purchase the first plane ticket, because there are a lot of things that you just can’t live without when you’re backpacking. Like a backpack. Good shoes. A good eyelash curler. OK so I have all these things, but the vain part of me wants to get a haircut, get a couple of cute outfits and a good towel that dries quickly! These things cost $$, baby. Or €, £, whatever.
I have been spending a lot of time trying to come up with a name for my upcoming trip. I just really like to name things, OK? I was looking at the always inspiring Word Porn page, and I stumbled upon a word that I think describes this trip perfectly:
For some reason, I cannot escape the curse of making puns, so I decided that this adventure will forevermore be known as Novatourient. See what I did there?
So, I have no hobbies, unless making lists is considered one. In that case, it’s a huge hobby of mine. Not only do I get to organise some of the mess that’s inside of my head and around me, it also helps me remember things, because I’m basically a goldfish.
I recently made a list of what I accomplished last year. It’s fun to look back at the things that have happened to me, and see what I can cross off my Life List (yes, I also have a list of things I want to do before I die). It’s also painfully obvious that my life is a string of random events, and that I don’t set high or serious goals for myself.
Alright, so that list is kind of dumb. Now onto something slightly less dumb.
I also made a list of 22 things I want to do this year. This list has been long underway, ’cause coming up with 22 things that are somewhat doable, yet not completely ordinary, is a difficult task. I get exhausted thinking about what my bucketlist for my 30th birthday will look like. Right, here it is:
So the plan is to have crossed most of these off by the end of my Asia-trip. Obviously, graduating is going to be pretty hard anywhere but home. Let’s hope I complete all of this before I turn 23!
The more I look around me, the more I see people having it just as bad as I have. We share the same symptoms: Eyes light up, when the subject is travelling, or places we’ve been to. A lack of enthusiasm over anything that happens at home. Difficulty making plans, as there is a chance we’ll be long gone by then. The feeling of being too big for this place. Diagnosis: Wanderlust.
I can’t brag about being a ‘real’ traveler. As a Scandinavian, I’ve only visited two out of our three countries. As a European, I’ve only visited about 13 countries on the continent. My first and only time out of Europe was two weeks in Los Angeles and Vancouver. I visit the main tourist attractions, the road most travelled, and I haven’t been away from home more than two months at a time.
When I was younger, I suffered from severe homesickness. Sleeping at a friends’ place or going on an overnight school trip was dreadful. I missed my bed, and I missed my mommy. I could deal with our week-long family vacations in Turkey, Bulgaria and Spain, because I had my family with me. In 2010, I was on my first holiday without them; it was just me and two girlfriends from High School on a 5-day trip to Barcelona. It was amazing, but when the buzz from the Sangria started wearing off, I was there, on the dance floor of a crowded club, and I just wanted to go home. Things aren’t like that anymore.
The following year, two girlfriends and I decided that we should try Interrailing. A 22-day trip around Europe by train. We had to wear backpacks, practical but ugly hiking sandals, miss out on a few showers and eat croissants on the floor of a dirty train station. This was certainly new and exciting, but I wasn’t very sure of it, and I considered cancelling several times. A month before departure, my boyfriend of 4.5 years, whom I lived with, broke up with me. I was hurt and lost, and finally, Interrail seemed like a good idea. We had some amazing times around Europe; we hated Paris, partied hard in Nice, walked till our feet fell off in Milan, took a break in Florence, fell in love with Rome, suffered in Bari, and then there was Corfu. The rest of our trip was spent hungover from Corfu. Everyone in my life knows that I have a longstanding love affair with The Pink Palace in Corfu and the people travelling there, but the reason that island and that hostel was so important to me on that trip, is that I realized I had gotten over my ex-boyfriend one fateful night at the Palladium. There were a few times on our trip when I missed him and contemplated sending him a text. It was our second night or so at The Pink Palace, and we sat at a table at Palladium, having drinks. No one was dancing; I don’t even think there were that many people there. This group of guys walked over to us, sat down and started chatting us up. At first I was texting my ex, but the guys got increasingly interesting, and suddenly I noticed that one of the guys was really cute. My phone conversation started to annoy me – the final straw was my ex trying to make me feel homesick, saying even his mom was missing me. I looked at the text and thought “fuck that, I am over this now” and I had an amazing night with the cute guy. Of course I was “in love” for half a year after that, but we never talked again.
I kept coming back to Corfu and The Pink Palace, and I “fell in love” again my third time around, less than a year after my first visit. I was so “in love”, not just with this guy, but also with this place, that I came back a few weeks later to work there for a month. And then returned a few months later to visit my new family and my “boyfriend”. And then I returned the next summer to work there for two months. Every time has been difficult to remember, and difficult to forget.
Being “in love” made me do crazy things, so one day I booked a trip far away to go see him. I had two amazing weeks in two amazing places, and this guy wasn’t even the main reason why my trip was so great. I got to see the USA I had always dreamt of seeing, I was hit on in the subway, people greeted me when I did my morning jog on the beach, I got to go to the Jay Leno Show, and then there was Canada. I met up with people I had befriended back at The Pink Palace, I saw the beautiful nature and I got hammered daily. Looking back, parts of it are sort of bittersweet, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I have travelled to whereever my “heart” has taken me so far, and it has enabled me to meet people, experience things and see the most beautiful sights. I can’t imagine living a life in just one place anymore.
So now I am here, on the verge of graduating and moving out of my apartment and quitting my jobs and selling my things. I’m going on an adventure. I have only planned a few months ahead. Maybe I’ll come back soon and be an office rat and find a boyfriend who understands the language I speak, but maybe not. I want to see every continent, do every festival, meet all the interesting and fun people and just be true to myself, whenever I find out who that is. My only true belongings will be my actions, and I will keep my “heart” and mind open to everyone and everything.
“not all those who wander are lost“