PERSONAL: STRONGER THAN YESTERDAY18:31:00
Sorry for the radio silence on this blog, but the last months have been incredibly busy. Since graduating uni in June, I have spent four weeks in Hamburg interning with the Northern German television and both to the heavy workload and the complete non existence of Wifi in my apartment made it impossible to post from there. And as we all know once you start slacking it´s easy to completely fall off track.
And so once I finished my internship it was only three weeks to go until I was going to start on my big South American adventure and in between applying for Master programmes and preparing for that, letting this blog slide was extremely easy.
So now I have been in Rio about three weeks, my time as a volunteer is already over and I have just decided to fully emerge in this opportunity and write about my feelings afterwards. I have also finally decided where to go for my Master and got accepted in Göttingen for a Master in Global Politics. Not only am I beyond excited to finally know what my life will look like from October on, after about a year of worrying about it, but going to Göttingen also means after a year and a half of long-distance Tristan and I will finally get to have a normal relationship and to say we are both excited is a major understatement.
So after this little update and before moving on to tell you guys about my volunteer experience, I want to take some time to talk about something that is barely touched upon by most travel bloggers: the difficulties of travelling.
It may be, because we all feel horrible when we do not enjoy a journey to the fullest, always having the feeling that we are being ungrateful or not making the most of this experience, especially knowing how lucky we are to have this opportunity. It may also be, because showing weakness is still very frowned upon in our society. Or because on social media or even when we talk with friends we only hear about other traveler´s great experiences, the nice parts of travelling and not necessarily anything negative.
But as great as travelling is, it can be draining, exhausting and straight up scary. And not gonna lie: every single time I travel by myself I will be majorly stressed out the day of my flight and even the day before. It is usually just then, that I realise what I got myself into and that I start having a major panic attack. I have spent most of my flight to Chile sobbing, I did not sleep the night before I went to Bali and I was so, so incredibly scared now to come to Rio, that I thought I would not make it.
Given my journey this time was a shitshow, with a majorly delayed flight leading to me missing my connection in Madrid, staying in an airport hotel and my luggage getting lost for a whooping four days. So to be fair my start in Rio was not the best. I spent most of my days at home waiting for my luggage, because Iberia´s absolutely incompetent "Help" hotline was unable to forward any information, consistently telling me my luggage would come today. Never fly with them!
And obviously being alone and bored in a foreign country is going to make being homesick and a bit overwhelmed a lot worse. I am not going to lie, I debated giving up and flying home.
Because I do feel unsafe here, as much as I love Rio. That has both to do with Rio simply being a dangerous place, but also especially with me being a girl that travels alone. I know that I simply am not able phyiscally to fight back if someone was willing to harm me and I am aware that I will not be moving around after darkness falls, which thanks to the Brasilian summer currently is at 17.30. I also had to enter some of the very non-touristy areas of Rio for my volunteer journey, such as moving to shady outskirts of town for a week or walking around the sketchy area around central station.
And knowing all of this the first few days I was basically paralyzed by my fear, I was intensely jetlagged, waking up every morning at 5 am and usually starting my day with a little cry session, because I felt so lonely and incapable to cope with all of this.
I have obviously decided to stay afterall and I am a lot happier now. I have (as always) made great friends, I have (as always) seen amazing things, I have (as always) had wonderful, unique experiences and I have (as always) grown. But I have also been accustomed to feeling so lost and scared at the beginning of my travels and I know it gets better. And the first time around I did not know that. I honestly thought I was going insane, I was sure I would not stop feeling this way and I was terrified of it. So I want to share this with you and I want to let everyone who is travelling know: It is okay not to be okay.
It is okay to be sad and lonely and disappointed with a place you travel to, it is okay to be scared, it is okay to realise the place you have been dreaming of for months or sometimes years is not at all like you imagined it and -this may the most important- it is okay to go home. To not force yourself to stay and to just suppress all these feelings until you reach your breaking point. Travelling is wonderful and it is beautiful and you grow so, so much from it. But you mainly grow and get stronger, because sometimes travelling is raw and scary and very painful. And I want you to know that every single person feels like this at times during their travels, that nothing is wrong with you and you are allowed to feel this way. Because for years I felt like something was wrong with me for missing home, for wanting to take the next possible flight back, for stressing out. That I was weak and pathetic for not being able to travel for years and needing my friends and not enjoying every aspect of my travels at any time.
But it is normal. Everyone has down days, everyone is scared at times and everyone will be homesick at a point. So if you feel this way please do not beat yourself up and accept that some days will be difficult. Find your boundaries and be okay with them. For me it´s three months. That´s usually how long I can manage bad food and cheap hostels and not seeing my loved ones, but after three months I need to go home and recharge. And for this trip I realised as great as travelling solo has been, especially after high school when I needed to find myself badly, now I am at a point where I am over always proving to myself that I could do it, I just want to be able to share my journey.
And I personally believe that seeing these weaknesses and being kind to myself in dealing with them and not only accepting them, but also finally sharing them with others has made me a hell of a lot stronger.