Becoming an expatriate is often the result of travelling. You find a place, fall in love with the scenery (or, in my case, a cute guy with a foreign accent) and suddenly find yourself putting up curtains in a new home overseas. You experience excitement, confusion and frustration, often at the same time. You meet new friends, miss your old ones and learn to balance the complex relationships you have with both of the countries in your life.
You’ve been there. Your eyes run almost as fast as your nose. Your tongue sticks out Gene Simmons style begging for water like you’ve been rescued from the desert. At some point you may begin to rock back and forth or curl into a ball. You might not realize how you look at the time, but your buddies will be sure to imitate it for years to come once you’re back home. Sometime after the burning (and sobbing) has subsided you laugh, or try to laugh, at yourself and remember you can’t handle the spicy curry in India.
Welcome to looking like an idiot.
Travel is the great equalizer between ages. Maybe you can’t teach old dog new tricks, but you can teach it to pick a point on a map and go there. Just think how many people use retirement as their starting point for travel. Travelling is open to people of all age because it’s only as comfortable or hectic as you make it. You can find travellers in strollers or in wheelchairs.
So if you’re never too old to travel, is it possible that you can ever be too old for hostels?
How do you describe the kind of instantaneous friendships created overseas? There’s something about the foreign air – or the foreign booze – that makes you love or hate the people you meet with a depth normally only acquired after knowing someone a decade. You go from introductions to deepest of secret telling in the time it takes you to climb one exotic volcano. Maybe it’s because you inevitably share such incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experiences with people you meet during your travels. Maybe it’s because you’re free of worries, free of cares, and free to just love or hate with reckless abandon.
You’re Not a Local Unless You Are
How long does it take to really get to know a place? How long before you can confidentially say you’ve “been there”? Does a layover in an airport count as having visited a place? Does it take an overnight stay? A week? A month?