Travelling: The Key to Self-Realization

If you want to learn about yourself - leave your comfort zone. Travelling is the best for that; volunteering abroad and living in the country for 3 months will also do the trick. It´s the most objective way to find out the good, the bad and the ugly about yourself (and others for that matter). Physically, emotionaly, and mentally you are tested. I certainly have made some realizations about myself over the course of this Nicaraguan experience, some strengthening what I already knew and a couple small surprises as well.

My friend once told me: ¨You become very aware of your bowels when you travel¨and my goodness is that true. I have never been so sick as I have been on this trip: diarrhea, constipation, parasites, bacteria, vomiting, crzy drug side effects and to top it off, a CT scan. Despite all this, I never became this paranoid traveller, monitoring everything I do or put in my mouth. I eat the sald washed and grown in the water, drink the juices with ice and have eaten mangoes picked right off the tree. I don´t want to limit myself, and to me getting sick is a right of passage to travelling. I knew I would get sick (though admittedly not as bad) and I tried my best to embrace it and get better (it did become very frustrating at times). To fully experience the culture you need to not be overly concerned with such things. It´s important to be cautious bit not paranoid. I´ve also learned that its tough to be a travelling vegan so I became vegetarian and do my best to avoid meat. I eat the eggs and milk here because I know that they are in no way produced the same as back home and I also need a source of protein. As much as I love beans I cannot eat them 24/7. I´ve come to see that I´m pretty adventurous and open minded with trying new foods and experiencing the cultural practices and always try to emerse my self fully in the country. As my teacher said: ¨You haven´t travelled properly until you´re as sick as a dog, sleeping the night on the bathroom floor.¨Though I didn´t spen a night hugging a toilet, I do feel I´ve travelled properly (using that train of thought) this summer.

Embracing new cultures is so fantastic, exciting and different. I love doing it and learning about these other ways of life. It can be extremely frustrating, overwhleming, confusing and tear spilling but it teaches you about your adaptibility, communication skills, language abilities and much more. From this summer, I have learned to let go of a lot - planning, organization, constant productivity, etc. and tried to become more flexible and laid back to match the culture. IT´S HARD!! I am a plan making, order seeking person so this Nicaraguan culture has been tough for me in that sense. I´d like to think that I´m adaptable though and was always open-minded to new people, places, food and experiences. You must be open-minded and adaptable to travel otherwise you miss out on so much of the experience. I hate people who travel and refuse to try new food, go new places...why travel then??!!

Before this summer, I never realized how much my family means to me and how much I would miss them and home. The safety and security you feel there. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I´ve felt on constant vigilence and never like I was completely safe, always having that little voice saying ¨Just keep your eyes open...¨. Travelling certainly challenges you comfort levels and places you in many foreign, not always good, situations. But it shows you if you can handle it and cope with whatever is thrown your way. I´ve struggled frequently this summer with homesickness and its been very hard to not just give up and go home. For a first time abroad and for an extended period of time, 3 months is a decent chunk. It was difficult but ultimately rewarding because I made it through a stronger and better person. I now have more appreciation and love for my family than ever before just because I now know whats its like to be away from there for so long.

When it comes down to it, you discover ¨Is travelling for you?¨ because it does teach you a lot about yourself and the ways of the world. I would travel again and possibly do more living abroad but it certainly wouldn´t be easy. I´ve realized now just how anxious a person I can become an what can and can´t make me cry, angry or happy. But I´ve also enjoyed learning the positives about myself and seeing how I can shine even when things are bad. Comfort zones were blasted this summer and while I know I won´t be the same person as before (with everything I´ve seen and learned this summer) I look forward to cultivating and expanding these new attitudes, perspectives, values, ideas and ways of living. For instance, seeing the garbage strewn everywhere makes me want to recycle and be even more environmentally aware than ever. Also, being more aware of consumption - of food, energy, resources - and trying to diminish my ecological footprint (and wasteful habits), all the while sharing my knowledge and experiences with others. Reading world news, taking an interest in politics at home and abroad, continuing my veganism - all exciting adventures I can´t wait to embark on and leanr more about!

2 comments:

Brittany said...

i really love this post! you are wise beyond your years ms. taggart (though that comment extends to pretty much all your posts)
:)

-brittany

Tianna said...

I love this post too Marissa!!! I haven't been able to keep up lately, but I'm reading through all of these and i love them! Especially this one.

I'm so excited to hear you are coming home, i can't wait to hear about all your experiences, new ideas, new perspecitves, etc, etc, etc!

=)

Safe travels!

Ti

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