Being Alone: Abroad

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I think that there is a common misconception of how awesome my life is. The reason I began to travel was because I wanted to improve my life. It sounds like a broad reason, and that’s because it is. Fortunately that reason became clearer as I continued. I have concluded that I wanted to be a more interesting person. I wanted to learn more about different cultures and have amazing stories to tell. I wanted to learn a new language and to compare the lifestyles of other nations to my own.

These are good reasons to travel, especially because in my case I accomplished much of that. In that sense I’ve been successful. But there are two sides to every coin, and the flip side says the most apparent thing: I haven’t had a fulfilling way to share my experiences.

Because I’ve been travelling for the past two years, I’ve developed a multitude of relationships. Friendships, romantic partners and acquaintances have permeated throughout my life. I’m grateful for all the travel beauty that I’ve seen and for all the people I’ve met, but it comes with the drawback of saying goodbye. There’s no other way to describe this than emotionally exhausting.

Travelling has been such a rewarding experience that I can’t put it into words. I’ve visited South America, Europe and Africa within one year. I’ve hiked the Salkantay Trek and seen the Machu Picchu. I’ve been to more European countries in the last two years than most people have seen in their entire lives. I am such a lucky person that the last thing I should be complaining about is loneliness, but here I am.

In South America, I met great people that only wanted to see me happy. When I lost access to my money, they spotted me with money. When I was around them, I felt happy. They genuinely care about me, and I care about them too. But as much as I would love to develop those relationships more, I’m faced with the reality of leaving after two weeks.

When I lived in Spain, I met such a diverse group of people who shared the common goal of wanting to learn Spanish. We experienced the beauty of Valencia and grew together but it was limited once again. The same thing happened when I studied abroad in Sweden and worked abroad in Belgium.

What happens is that I share my experiences with people who I’ll know for a short time. Then we’ll create another experience together, I’ll leave, and I’ll share my new experience with the next group of people that I meet in a hostel, on a hike, or a free walking tour. Then the cycle repeats itself. This cycle could be more bearable if I simply focused on travel instead of building relationships, but those things go hand in hand. And when you travel, you build deeper relationships.

Limited time breeds the deepest relationships because you have nothing to lose by sharing more. You know that you’ll probably never see them again (let’s be real) so you spill everything about yourself. And just like human nature, they spill everything to you. It’s a bond like no other, but it’s a bond that doesn’t last long.

I’ve said it before: I’m tired of saying goodbye. I’ve had no chance to develop a proper relationship, whether that has been in Sweden, Belgium, Spain or anywhere else I’ve lived. Every one of my relationships has an elephant in the room, and on it is stamped: “Are you going to stay?” And it’s always followed by my same response: “No, I’m going home.”

Well, that time is approaching. I’ll be going home soon.

I’m going home as a better person. A person with stronger boundaries, one that cares more about himself and one that has the potential to care more about others. I’m going home speaking the Spanish language and the language of honesty. I’m going home with more interesting stories about myself and the world around me.

Most importantly, I’m coming home with the idea that whatever I develop at home can last. Where I don’t have to put a time limit on all of it, whether that’s a business, a job, a romantic relationship or a deep and empowering friendship.

No more waiting. No more time limits.

1 comment

[…] pretty standard part of travelling, and arguably one of the top reasons for it. It’s because it’s easy to open up to people when you are less invested in them and may never see them again. It’s therapeutic. You can […]