As a child, my mother had always been worried that I am one of those people whose curiosity will get me in trouble one day, that I’ll end up lost somewhere in the world, yet will eventually somehow find my way home.
I have always been an independent and a curious person, and grew up wanting to know everything there is to know about the world. That’s probably where it all started.
My first major travel was with the university. I specifically chose to study International Studies so that I could study overseas as part of the degree for a year. It meant that I had to graduate one year later than my peers, but that didn’t bother me, as I wanted to know what it is like to live in a foreign country, and not just to see it from a tourist’s perspective.
So in 2003, after having studied German for four semesters, I hopped on the plane and headed to Deutschland.
Little did I know, this trip was to become the start of many affairs I developed with travelling later in my life.
I based myself in Saarbruecken, a city central-west of Germany on the border to France. It wasn’t a well known city, but I grew to love it. The city was particular interesting as it had been half German and half French in its past with a bilingual university. I especially loved the history associated with it as well as the different architecture that reflects those stories.
The good thing about being a student was that you got at least 3 months of holidays a year. As much as I loved my studies, I was also looking forward to the European summer holidays during August and September so that I can put my backpack on and explore.
Europe is a particularly easy continent to be travelling solo in. The train and bus network in and out of each country were fast and reliable, and I loved the fact that you can fly for about an hour or two and be in a completely different country.
What I found about Europe is, although the European Union now unified the economy and currency, each country still had their own identities and traditions, and they are proud of it. There was so much history and culture to be learned you cannot simply just have been to one of the countries to say you have been to Europe. As I crossed border after border, in and out of eastern and western Europe, meeting different people and tasting different cuisines, the hidden travel bug in me flourished and never wanted to stop. I made a promise to myself (and the bug) that I will go somewhere new once a year to experience the unknown.
And I have.
My little promise has taken me to places ever since, and now that I am married I have installed this into our married life. We had met in Peru while both of us took four months out of our lives to participate in volunteer work.
My husband and I now spend our summer holidays somewhere new each year. Even if I didn’t have enough money to travel overseas, I would take the time to explore my own country. One can be surprised to find there is so much more to surf and cricket about Australia!
Throughout my journeys, I often find myself reflecting on the current state of affairs, on how much some people simply just don’t try to understand each other, on how much we really waste in our privileged lives and how much we really could help create a world without poverty.
For me, travelling has taught me more than my degrees and careers ever will. With all the wars, famine, deaths and sufferings, how we somehow will never learn. Has any of the world leaders realise the money put into all these meaningless killing can actually be used to eliminate poverty globally? Has any of them really tried to understand the world and it’s cultures to properly assess their actions against those that are simply just different to themselves? Have they even travelled to see the world from another perspective?
While I know I can not solve the world’s problems alone, I will keep on travelling, keep on spreading the word on cultural understanding and tolerance. I know there are many others like me out there, and I believe together, one day, the world will see that we are all different for a reason – so that the world can be as colourful and happy place as we travellers all know it to be.