Feelings Since Coming Home

I. Am. Bored. I thought I would enjoy doing nothing and relaxing before school starts, but going from doing so much for three months to doing absolutely nothing is making me go a little insane. I almost wish I could access my course schedules so I could get a head start on reading or something to keep me productively occupied.

 

The funny thing about being home is that nothing has changed except for me. Everything is and was exactly where I left it. My job, my bedroom, the beach, my family, the traffic, it is all the same – only I have changed.

 

I have been home for officially a week and it has taken me just about that amount of time to realize that I actually have changed. I didn’t think I did while I was away. It took coming home to realize how much I had changed while I was away because I didn’t feel the change happening. I think a lot of my restlessness comes from not being used to actually doing nothing except for a few serving shifts every week. Before I left for Europe 3 months ago, I was a full-time student, working, and planning for the trip of a lifetime. I was busy. I haven’t known boredom and doing nothing for a long time, it seems. It’s weird waking up every day, not having to do anything, nothing to explore. Not walking out of a hostel to a new city, surrounded by new people.

 

It’s weird going from travel mode to being at home, no longer a tourist. As a solo traveler, you have to talk to people. Socialize. There’s almost always someone to talk to. Traveling alone definitely brought me out of my shell. But at home, I’ve crawled right back into it. I don’t know many people here. I don’t have many friends who are right here. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing. But not having anyone to socialize with definitely contributes to my boredom.

 

Yesterday I was on the beach feeling a little restless. It wasn’t how I wanted to feel in my favorite place. It took me a little while to allow myself to enjoy the nothingness again – to enjoy the way I used to feel when sitting along the shore.

 

Just like while traveling, I have to remind myself to enjoy the present moment. Life moves by fast. Appreciate every moment. Don’t take the time you have where you are for granted because as soon as you leave you’ll long to be there again. Never stop enjoying. Don’t forget how to enjoy what you used to enjoy because it is enjoyment nonetheless. Get out of your head. Pay attention.

Dolce Far Niente 

Being born and raised in New York/New Jersey, I have always lived a fast paced life. I walk fast, I drive fast, I’m impatient as hell, and I feel as though I have always been in a rush. Moving to Florida definitely slowed down my pace a bit, but I still drive too fast and sometimes struggle with taking things slowly. Enjoying the minutes as they pass. Rushing through life. 

This trip has allowed me to slow myself down. To take time during my meals and to truly enjoy myself. I think in American culture, there is so much pressure to do things quickly, especially in the restaurant business, that you don’t even get time to enjoy yourself. I always found it weird when people would order their appetizers and finish them before ordering their main meal, because I always want my food as fast as possible. Granted, I’m usually kind of a hangry bitch, but still. Now I understand. Now I understand because I have learned to take my time, move at a slower pace and enjoy myself. 

I stretched out dinner for 2.5 hours while gazing at the Eiffel Tower from my AirBnb. I sat in the south of France on the Port of Marseille and sipped wine while enjoying every last bite of cheese and bread offered to me. If I have learned anything, enjoying myself is not sitting in bed and watching Netflix – it is enjoying every minute I have, without thinking about the next day or the past. I learned patience.

On this trip, this 90 day, 15 country, 45 city trip, I have learned about myself and what I am capable of. I have become comfortable with who I am and have only been unapologetically myself. I did not tuck myself away like I do a lot of the time. I let everyone I met see me for me. I have met so many people and I am so thankful for all of them, whether we just sat and talked at a bar or ended up meeting again in our journeys, the people I met made my trip what it was. 

Going home, sitting in Heathrow Airport, it feels surreal but I feel calm and ready. It’s hard to believe I am at the end of my road. No more mental strain on where I am off to next. No more planning. Now I can focus on school, and focus on coming back here, and one day making a life for myself here in Europe. 

That is the plan. 

I’ll be back.


Energized and Exhausted All at Once

Leaving to go home is just as surreal as coming here was, except at home I will at least know what to expect. 

My last days were spent doing relatively nothing. I am not necessarily tired of traveling, but I am tired of being a tourist. Doing touristic things. Surrounded by people who have no self awareness or know how to walk. If/when I do this again, I don’t want to be a tourist in the summer; I want it to be off season – less people, less heat, less money. 

When I got to London on Saturday, I napped and rode the metro around a bit and made my way to see Big Ben. It was right beside me the second I got off the metro. I tried to make my way down the street to Buckingham Palace, but the streets were so packed you could barely walk. It just wasn’t what I was in the mood for, and I don’t regret not taking advantage of my time there. 

I am more excited to go home than I ever imagined I would be. I am looking forward to going back to work and making money. I am looking forward to going back to school. I truly do feel energized. I’m ready. I took my time off and I’m ready to jump back in, full force. It’s going to be an incredibly busy semester, but I have never felt more ready, and I couldn’t be happier about that. 

Doing this… looking back on it… I can’t believe I really did it. I got through it. And it was so easy. It was so much easier than I thought it would be. And I’m so excited to do it again one day, but totally differently. If this experience and life in general have taught me anything it is that I can literally do whatever I want. Whatever I set my mind to. 

I was talking to a girl from back home who is only a year younger than me, who is struggling with where she is in life and has a lot to figure out. I gave her a brief insight into my life and what I’ve overcome. I look back at the worst times in my life, getting into serious trouble, dating the worst people, not caring about myself or my education, and I think back to that person and sometimes I can’t really believe it was me. It’s like speaking in third person. She did this. She did that. She had a bad reputation. But it was all me. I did those things. I had a bad reputation. But I’m not that person anymore. I’ve come so far. And now I’ve seen so much. I’ve been to so many places. I’ve experienced different cultures and have fallen in love with them. And I love my life. 

If you were to tell me this is what I would be doing five years ago, I would have called bullshit. But so much has happened in five years. I thought I had been through it all when I was only 17 but it was only just the beginning. My childhood and adolescence were the worst times of my life but I am so thankful for the experience and the hurdles I have had to jump over. Not a lot has been straight up given to me. I’ve had to earn it all. I am more thankful for my shitty childhood than most people ever would be because I have moved on from it and I have grown from it. I don’t linger in the past. And no matter how much I complain and bitch, I really do love my life and the way that I am living it.

On this journey I have met so many people. So many ages from so many places, traveling for their own reasons. And it has inspired me in so many ways. Some people work in hostels for accommodation, some do other farming jobs or workaways, and I have learned so much from these people and what they do. There are so many ways to travel the world and the world needs more curious people. 

I loved seeing so much in so much time but I am already looking forward to coming back so I can do things so much differently. I didn’t know what I was in for and I didn’t know about the number of opportunities there are out here. I can’t wait to spend more time in fewer places. Return to some places and see even more. But I am definitely ready to go back home for now. I am energized and exhausted all at once. Energized for life but exhausted from constantly moving around. I miss a routine. And one day I will create a routine in a country over here. But until then… school will come first. And I will enjoy my days on the beach. Loving life. As always.

An Ode to My Weight Gain

“You’ll lose so much weight when you’re in Europe” said every single person I told that I was traveling to Europe. 

My response? “Do you know how much I intend on eating?” 

I wasn’t kidding.

Who comes to Europe and doesn’t plan on eating EVERYTHING? Seriously. My budget for food per day was more than my budget for accommodation per night. That isn’t a joke either. I average about $20-$25 per day on accommodation. My budget for food was $30. I know. It’s a little much. But how can you go to Spain and not eat as much ham, olives, manchego, and tapas as you can? How can you go to France and not marvel at the amazing cheeses and breads and pastries? The pasta, meats, cheeses, pastries in Italy? The feta, grape leaves, gyros in Greece? Those little pancakes and stroopwafels in Holland? Pastel de natas in Lisbon? Ugh. I miss it all already. I’m getting sad. 

My plan for my trip was to eat my way through Europe. I succeeded. Without a doubt. If I were graded, I would have gotten an A++. Would have finished with a 5.0GPA. If it had the word “traditional” and was served with Nutella, I bought it. If the waiter recommended it, I bought it. And I finished it. Almost always. At home, I’m spoiled. I know that. I don’t really have to spend that much money on food because I live at home. Dinner and groceries are on my mom’s tab. Spoiled. I know. So when I have to buy my own food, it better be worth it, and you better BELIEVE I’m going to eat every last dollar’s worth. And I did. 

I don’t understand why anyone would come to Europe on a diet. Or would actually follow their whole “gluten free” or paleo shit. I’m sorry, but fuck that noise. You’re in Europe. Eat it all. Get a tummy ache. Shit your brains out. YOU KNOW IT WAS WORTH IT. Do you know how much gelato I ate? Too much for any lactose intolerant person to live through. 

When I’m home, I eat generally pretty healthy (besides the fact that I eat loaded nachos at my job once a week… but they’re really good…) so this vacation was a time for me to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. And then it’s back to my American life. Back to my “healthy” eating. Back to boring. 

I’m not kidding when I say I planned my trip in accordance to where had the best food. That’s why I skipped Germany, no offense, but I was already going to Austria, specifically Vienna, so I figured I’d get enough Schnitzel and sausage there to last. I have literally fantasized about eating olives and olive oil in Spain, the pasta and pizza in Italy, the mass amounts of cheese in France, and all of those food porn videos you see on Facebook of specialties from different places around the world. 

I have gained 10lbs. Averages out to only 3.3lbs per month, so when you look at it that way, it’s not that bad. I have probably consumed more wine and beer on this trip than I have in my entire life. I have never had to force myself to finish a cheese plate and then voluntarily order dessert. And it’s all worth it. I regret nothing. Not a single bite. 

The Clock is Ticking… 

It’s really starting to hit me that I’m leaving soon. In less than a week it’s back to my life. Back to reality. Back to school and work. No longer a tired mind from traveling but an exhausted one from the repetition of my days. Back to work. Back to school. 
This is the end of my journey. This is the end of my exploration. For now. I feel like I’m waiting, wasting time to go home, the clock is ticking…. and it feels all the more real now. This is it. These are my final moments. It all started to sink in as I was sitting on the metro in Paris. I’m making the most of it as best as I can. I canceled my hostel accommodation because it was 45 minutes from the Eiffel Tower. I booked an AirBnb last minute with a view of the Eiffel Tower from my window. 7th floor, no elevator, no wifi, no fridge. The view makes up for all that it lacks. All I wanted was to be able to truly feel like I was in Paris while I was in Paris. 
I’ve been living in a dream. A fantasy. Fulfilling what I’ve always wanted. Seeing what I’ve always wanted to see. And it’s flown faster than any bird I’ve ever seen fly. This experience gave me wings. It brought me to life. It gave me life. And it’s made me appreciate the simplicity of my life at home. It’s made me miss shitty filter coffee and laying in bed watching Netflix. Sitting on the beach for hours, reading, smoking, and getting lost in a summer haze. I have learned to appreciate my moments and my time. I have learned to treat myself. To do what I want when I want rather than what anyone else wants. 
I have learned to not have expectations. I have learned that cities are less magical than movies make them out to be. Everywhere you go has its own characteristics. Its own flow of life. And I have fallen in love with some of the cultures I have discovered and the people in different countries.
4 days left… the clock is ticking. 

1 week left in a 3 month journey 

Being in places you’ve only ever seen pictures of is surreal. Being on a different continent for 3 months and living in hostels has been surreal. I already miss the places that I visited 2 months ago. I miss the places I visited a week ago. And in a week, I’ll be missing it all. 

3 months has flown by. I have learned more about the world and myself in three months than I could have in a lifetime. I have learned to depend on only myself. I have learned to trust my instincts. I have learned that people in this world are generally kind and willing to help you. I have learned a lot about patience. I have learned a lot about pace. Moving at the right one. Giving myself time to enjoy and take in my environments. I have learned to value myself.

If I can make any promise to myself, it is to not let myself become distracted or to distract myself in unhealthy ways. I want to live for myself and improve myself. I want to create strong bonds built on realistic expectations rather than weak promises by people who just don’t care. 

I think I know exactly what I want from my life. It’s hard to not let people, their beliefs, and their opinions get in the way of what I know I want. It’s hard not to let the meager prospect of love or a relationship blind me and erase my dreams. Everything that is meant to happen will happen and one day I will find exactly what I’m looking for.

When I graduate from university in December of 2018, I want to move to the south of Spain and teach English as a foreign language for at least a year. I want to do that for myself. To learn Spanish. To be where I want to be in a country that I know I loved. I want to live in a beautiful place without living out of a backpack with packing cubes and dirty clothes. 

Traveling has made me realize how big this world is and how much there is to do in it. It’s overwhelming. How many opportunities there are and how much I can do. I love where I live but why stay in one place? 

I think the reason I miss home so much is because it is what it is – home. I know its quirks. I know where to go for empty beaches. I know the traffic times to avoid. It’s home. But I can make a home anywhere. I have moved from where I’ve grown up thinking I would never be able to start over. But I started over in New York. I started over in Florida. And in those moments, that was the best thing for me. The only way to see how far you can go is to go somewhere. Test yourself. Don’t let anything get in your way.

The Simplicity of Home

I love where I live. That’s no secret. The beach is where I spend a lot of my time, waiting for the sun to set. I spend hours and hours sitting on the seashore. Sometimes reading. Sometimes doing absolutely nothing. I figured while I traveled I would get my fix of beaches elsewhere. The coasts of Ireland, Portugal, Italy, Croatia, Greece were all beautiful in their own ways. I enjoyed being there and appreciated their beauties. But it isn’t the same.

The beauty of being home is knowing where to go to escape the crowds. But here I am a tourist. In some places my time has been limited. I haven’t been able to truly appreciate my solitude along the shore. Nowhere has managed to give me the same feeling I get when I am back home, sitting on my blanket, watching the waves crash, with no one around me as day turns to night. Sun setting, moon rising.

I miss and love the powder, white sand. The small crabs that pop out of their holes, watching me intently. The birds that fly by and stare at the sea the same way I do. Living in Florida for the last three years has changed me. I never imagined such a positive impact. To have such a relationship with nature. I love the shore more than anything. And no matter where I am, or how beautiful it is, nowhere gives me the same feeling I get when I am back home. Because that is where I became who I am. That’s what I miss the most. The calm feeling, the simplicity of home.