It’s almost two months ago that I passed my bachelor degree – and I still can’t believe that I never have to go back to school if I don’t really want to. Probably I’m gonna realize that I’m really done for now when I have my first real job in October (hopefully). Time to look back on living abroad for five years!
Almost exactly five years ago, I was standing at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, about to leave Europe for one entire year. I was convinced to stay in Australia for twelve months and that I’d start studying Psychology the year after…ha! I was wrong, apparently. In the past five years, many things have changed – my plans, my surroundings and my idea of what I want to achieve in my life.
Over the past five years, I had the chance to live in six different countries. I met great people – some of them have stayed in my life for a certain time before our paths parted again, others are still important and belong to my closest friends now. They understand me, because of the times abroad we experienced together, even if we came from completely different situations. I learned that it’s not always possible to do everything on your own and that you can rely on your friends – and that you sometimes have to. That distance doesn’t mean you cannot be there for eachother. I traveled a lot, I laughed, I cried, packed my suitcase more than once and left many things behind.
Over the past five years, I learned that there is more than one way to go, and that others don’t always know what is best for you – there is only one person knowing that and that’s yourself. That it’s not necessary or expected to do everything perfectly and that mistakes are necessary to learn and to improve. That even after having made choices, you can always change directions as long as you are willing to live with the consequences. That there are always alternatives. That you shouldn’t give up too fast. Because maybe, even if it’s hard, this is exactly the right way for yourself.
When I think of the girl standing at the airport with her big green suitcases on the way to Melbourne, I can only smile today. About the plans I had in mind, everything planned out, convinced this is what would happen. So many things changed, things went wrong, I made choices and all these plans just became an option that I didn’t choose. Many things changes, but some stayed: the green suitcases that I have packed so many times, and memories I have taken with me from each of the six countries. All different, but all leading to where I am now.
The feeling of being afraid from changes has changed – now I am exciting, even if I know that it’s not always going to be easy. Not everything that has happened was perfect, easy or planned, but life would have been boring if everything went as planned. Sometimes, you just need the disappointments and difficult moments to take a step back and start again.
After five years of traveling, I can say: It’s always going differently than planned, and probably, that’s just fine. Because when I look up now from my laptop and see the Empire State Building, I know that I am exactly where I need to be right now. And even if this is going to be one of the hardest goodbyes so far – it’s time to start a new chapter.