How I became a traveller

The way I became a traveller was such a cliché. About four years ago I had had enough. I had just finished secondary school, I was sick of...

The way I became a traveller was such a cliché.

About four years ago I had had enough. I had just finished secondary school, I was sick of the small town I had spent my entire life in and had genuinely no idea what to do with my life. I guess the most obvious options for an 18-year-old girl would have been backpacking south-east Asia, au pairing in USA or moving to Australia for working-holiday but I was broke and had no interests to explore Western countries so I did the second most obvious thing and decided to move to China. I didn't know a single thing about the country and didn't speak a word of Mandarin whatsoever but yeah, why not?

I ended up spending three months in Shanghai, eight in Beijing and travelling across the whole country - I literally travelled like 8600km (5300 miles) during that month but that's a whole other story - but I couldn't get enough of China, Asia or life in general. I had done quite bit of travelling with my family when I was younger but this was very different. I had found myself hooked on new experiences, unknown places, different cultures and that strange feeling you got when you arrive to somewhere completely new. Goodbye Finland, I'm never coming back!

Well, technically I had to go back cause I was broke but just for long enough for me to make enough money to be able to hit the road again. Six months after leaving China I was living a dream in Southeast Asia, exploring Eastern Europe and after another six months I found myself living in Scotland where I'm still studying. Being finally able to type country of residence to all the official papers did not however mean that my adventures were over. Even when studying I managed make most of my holidays by travelling not only around the UK but spending summers in places like Central America.

Like pretty much everyone I've met during my travels I fell in love with the freedom travelling gave for me. I could do whatever I wanted and be just the person I wanted to be without the burden of the life I had once had back home. I'm not saying that I'd pretend to be someone I wasn't for the pure joy of nobody knowing me on those far corners of the world I've ended up but the exact opposite: travelling gave me an opportunity to explore who I really was by trying new things I wouldn't have normally been up for just for the sake of "that not being me" and being afraid of people judging me. I'm probably stating the obvious here, but it turned out there was so much more in me than I ever could have imagined.

I couldn't think of anything more exciting than meeting new people, exploring new places and gaining knowledge about the local cultures and the world! It hasn't always been easy but it's always been worth it. At the age of eighteen I had three big dreams I believed I'd spend my whole life trying to make true but once I started to live the life I wanted to and become the person I wanted to be somewhere along the way all of my dreams became true.

My decision to move to China changed my life completely. It's hard to imagine how my life would have turned out if I had not left, as so much of my persnality has been built on things I've experienced thousands of kilometres away from the place I grew up in. It's impossible to think what sort of values I would have without all those people I've met around the world and, in fact, how my life would be like without all those friends I've found somewhere along the way. I don't thank myself often enough for leaving. The past four years have been the happiest of my whole life and I'm looking forward for more happy years of exploring to come.

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