I have stop counting the times I’ve heard someone tell me how lucky I was to be travelling and discovering so much. A few years ago, I probably would have smile, nodded and thanked them. Now, I became pretty assertive and my typical answer is to smile and say confidently : “This is no luck”.
My closest friends and family know the amount of work hiding behind these blog posts, and the strength of the commitment that is required. Remember these drinks I didn’t have? Remember living with roommates in your late 20s? Remember the “I’m quitting a permanent, safe, comfortable job to follow what I believe in”? These are just examples of choices (and I carefully avoid the use of the word ‘sacrifice’) I made to be where I am today. The courage and faith it takes to listen to other people’s doubts, critics and fears thrown at you about your own plans (because they can’t conceive doing it themselves) is outstanding – maybe some people have it easy… I had to built that up!
I think from the outside, it is easy to believe that it’s easy or lucky to be doing this. It’s easy to imagine that all the moments on the road are amazing, happy and just flow naturally. Wake up call – my trip has been designed based on limitations I had to face, both in terms of time and financially. I had always dreamed of working abroad, so this was a perfect opportunity for me. Under 6 months though, it is difficult to find a paying working contract, so it is better to find some volunteering or exchange program. Financially, my lifestyle in Vancouver did not allow me to save enough to travel and be on the road non-stop for 6 months, before heading back to school in September. So I made choices – I chose a volunteer-exchange program where I would teach for free, in exchange of living with a host family anywhere in Argentina. I learned where I would teach and work about 2 weeks ahead of time – which, for those who know me, is a very last minute announcement (see, I’m a planner. I like planning – plus I’m very good at it!). For me, being OK with that is close to a full on letting go and just being up for anything coming my way.
Travelling and especially doing a full on language immersion IS amazing. But it is equally terrifying, exciting, nervebreaking, exhalirating, lonely at times, full of new experiences and friends, frustrating, fullfilling, tough because you see your loved ones moving forward with their lives without you in theirs by your side. For me, travelling in hostels and meeting other travellers who share your mind set and values, dreams and beliefs is incredible. Working in a different country, in a small town where barely no one speaks your language, when the culture and habits are differents, living with strangers who can’t line up 3 words in your language, far away from any common ground and your comfort zone IS also incredible – and a MASSIVE steep learning curve that can quickly take you out of breath.
Another traveller I met during my travel told me she had this three week rule – 3 weeks to get use to a new place, to get your new routine, to meet people and feel a bit more like home. For me it was more about a month – things I expected (such as doing lots of activities with my host family to discover the area) turned out differently. I ended up having a LOT of free time on my own, more than I ever had to be honest, which can soon take one to a feeling of loneliness and confusion. Between you and I, it would be much easier to pack my backpack and move on to the next hostel and stay on the road. However I have a precise goal here, which is to learn and better my Spanish, and I know there is no better way! I am also getting really interesting teaching experience in a different culture, country, belief system. I also have to admit that all this free time as allowed me to reconnect with one of my biggest passions: dancing. Viedma turns out to be amazing for dance classes, at a very reasonable price (for the ones I am actually paying for, considering the cultural center has invited us to go for free!). I think I also just officially became the first Canadian to take Flamenco dance lessons in Viedma wearing hard soles hiking shoes. I am shamelessly proud of it.
A lot of people have this ability to wash away any negative toughts or experiences and move on without bothering – or is that pretending? I am not sure. On my end, I have made a deal with myself to be authentic and unapologetic about my experiences in life. Am I happy travelling? Yes. Am I excited to be here? Absolutely! Would I rather be somewhere else? Not really, no. But, are all days easy, exciting and free of difficulties? Not at all. And so I ask for what I want, share the things I don’t like about my current placement-situation-experiences if any, make the most out of it and try to get what would be better for myself. I don’t believe it’s the best way to just stop ‘complaining’ or pointing out the negative things… Sometimes you just need to realize what they are to make a change. One thing is certain though, travelling pushes you in many ways you didn’t expect, and I know I can handle anything and know everything will be alright, not because I just believe it, but because I lived through it – which is a great vibe to go by.
Above: I did a Canadian totem pole workshop with my groups – here are some of their interpretations of our history!
That said, I should be set next week to move on with a new family and will be visiting Buenos Aires for the first time since I set foot in Argentina! I am looking forward these changes and am very excited to keep working with my two groups of students here in the school!
Keep following! 🙂