When I first traveled abroad, I did not know I will love it so much. Maybe some of the hard-core expats will say that they recognized it from travel 1; for me it did not feel like that. Of course, it was interesting to visit a new country, but I was a kid and I was travelling with my parents, so it didn’t feel so much different than other holidays we did together in Romania. They had the responsibility to organize everything and I was just there to enjoy whatever new things I was seeing, eating or experiencing.
It felt totally different the first time I left by myself for my studies in Vienna. All of sudden, I was completely alone in a new country, with tons of strangers, no friend and not even one Romanian that I could speak Romanian to. Felt a bit scary in the beginning, but there was a thrill coming with that. I didn’t recognize it clearly at first, but the virus was slowly entering my life.
I loved my first semester abroad so much! All of the sudden I was meeting people from countries I never even thought I could visit, I now know first-hand that Portuguese are the warmest and friendlier people, that Spanish are loud, funny and always energetic, that Americans are very keen on seeing as much of Europe as possible, that Italians have a great sense of humor, Japanese are traditional and that This Romanian can adapt anywhere and make friends from everywhere. The virus was beginning to be stronger.
I then returned home with a promise that I will graduate and then go back abroad, as this adventure of creating a life somewhere else, feels too good to let it go. I did not keep my promise. The first two months home felt a bit confusing, life was easy, friends were close, family was warm and caring, but I was missing the thrill and the excitement of that “ran-away-from-home-and-came-here-to-explore” life. I then got a new job, graduated, made new friends, started going out in new circles, found my place back home. Virus was dying out…
It took 2 years for the virus to fight back. I suddenly felt that I don’t want to waste my twenties living a life that I could live when I was 40….I had to go out and explore some more. If not now, then never. If not now, then I end up being the one that tasted the excitement, but didn’t drink the full glass.
So I packed my bags and left again to a new adventure. This time it felt even easier, the virus was growing stronger again and I was happy to let it take over. I traveled in a year more that I have traveled in my first 24 years, I visited Morocco, Albania, Sweden, Germany, Belgium, Spain, UK, Turkey…and don’t even remember how many new cities I have seen in the Netherlands.
I made again new friends from all over the world, I started working in Amsterdam and eventually decided to stay just a little longer. Three years later, I was again moving; this time to Madrid where I spent nine months before returning to the Netherlands. Now I am again thinking that it’s time to move on to a new adventure…and I have the feeling that this need to move around is difficult to control.
When you decide to start living abroad, then the virus absorbs you completely. It may feel difficult to be away from family and friends, it may sometimes feel that you don’t belong, but in a strange way it feels good. It feels more free and somehow more authentic.
Every experience brings a new perspective to your view of how things work or should work, it changes or shapes your views in politics, religion or acceptance of all types of people and opinions. Life abroad becomes slowly more interesting, as everyday feels like a quest.
Travelling changes you in ways you don’t always acknowledge, but maybe what it truly does to you is allow you to discover yourself. That’s why this virus is addictive and that’s why the more you travel, the more you need to increase your dosage with new adventures. You simply get hooked on it!