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Traveling is a necessity. Whether you’re gone for two weeks or for two years, exploration is half the fun of living. If you never broaden your view of the world from a pinhole, you’ll miss far more than you’ll gain. And once you do choose to travel, you’ll never be completely comfortable in your old recliner again, never fully at home.

When you travel, even if it’s only a short distance, you leave a little piece of yourself everywhere you go. In the café right beside the Eiffel Tower where you got stood up for the first time in your life. On the Tube platform when you missed your train, which ended up making your miss your flight. At the top of the Empire State Building in an oversized sweater because you had no one to impress. In each instance, you’re a different person. You’ll make friends in each country, each state, each city, that you may never see again or you’ll find yourself still talking to even after fifteen years. You’ll leave a piece of you with them regardless, almost as if you’re saying ‘I’d love to stay, but I have to go’.

It’s the price you pay for knowing people in different places. You’ll make stories and memories with them that no one will understand at home. You’ll find yourself telling a joke and when no one laughs, you say ‘you just had to be there’. And you were there for a moment, you were taken back to that time with that person and you recalled how it felt to be alive. To have your heart beating out of your chest because for a minute there, you didn’t have a plan, you just went with it and now you have a story to tell. That’s enough sometimes.

Everyone always thinks traveling is all about planned schedules and tours. But sometimes, it takes more than an hour to explore a museum. You’ll find yourself getting caught up in a Monet and reading all the little plaques the curator generously put beside the pieces. Your plan will go out the window once you look at your watch and realize you’ve been there for three hours instead of the allotted one. You’re okay with that because you know something else can give. Lunch doesn’t need to be an hour. Your coffee break can wait. Sometimes the best adventures are the ones that aren’t planned.

Spontaneity is the color of life. It’s a kaleidoscope of feelings you can never quite explain to someone when they ask. You just had be there because when you’re traveling, you’re an unknown and that refreshing. You are under no pressure to exist. No one knows your name or anything about you. There’s no past chasing you, no future you have to attend to right now. You are not who you were yesterday. This mindset will follow you, even when you return home and your parents start up with the questions again:

What are your plans after university?

Do you have a boyfriend?

When do you start work again?

When you get home after traveling, everything is where you left it. Nothing has changed. Your parents are still there, your job is still waiting, and you’ll fall back into your routine again as if you never left. That’s the problem. Traveling changes you, it alters your perception of the world, of people, of yourself. It expands your horizons and allows you to grow as an individual because experience teaches you far more than schooling ever could.

Once you come back from your travels, you might find everything to be where you left it yet something doesn’t feel quite right because home is still the same; it’s you who’s different.

Words by Sarah Sutherland // Photography by Gina J Lee.

© 2015 Reef Magazine


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