What traveling the world has taught me and how it has changed my life
On some occasions, my friends have called me the traveler of the group and said that I’ve traveled a lot. While I partly agree with that, I don’t think I’ve actually done that much travelling and certainly not enough.
I did my first solo trip in the beginning of 2013 when I journeyed to the land down under, Australia. I think the idea of it started to marinade around the end of 2010 when I finished high school. Some of my friends had done a 1-2 months trip to Asia before that and I really wanted to experience the same feeling they told me they had.
The year 2011 I spent in the army. In 2012 I worked the entire year with the goal of saving money for my trip and finally in 2013, I packed my bags, had a one-way ticket to the other side of the world and never looked back!
It didn’t take long for me to realize that I really enjoyed travelling, seeing new places, learning about different cultures and meeting new and unique people. Some see this as me hating my home country, but the truth is quite far from it. I love Finland and am very happy to live there, but I don’t want to stay in that bubble without knowing and seeing all the other spectacular things in the world.
I have heaps of friends who like to stay back home in Finland and from time to time maybe go on a holiday somewhere where the sun actually shines. That wasn’t me. After that first trip to Australia, I was hooked.
Surfers Paradise, Australia
In total, I spent a year travelling and working around Australia, meeting new people and seeing different things. Two years after I returned home, I packed my bags again and went to study in Hong Kong for five months. When the finals were done, I decided to stay in Asia for another two months, travelling around Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. It didn’t even take six months after I came back, that I was again packing my bags for South Africa, where I am currently.
"Big Buddha" in Hong Kong
Travelling really teaches you a lot, if you’re willing to absorb it. Many things that have helped in getting a job etc., I’ve learned from travelling, not from school. Also, I know it’s a cliché but it will teach you a lot about yourself.
For example, I’ve been solo during all of my travels but have never been alone. You’ll always meet people in hostels, museums, trains, buses and so on. Some of these people have become lifelong friends for me. You will also learn how to speak to strangers, which will help with the above mentioned and if you put some effort to it, learn to speak new languages.
I always try to learn how to at least say “hello” and “thank you” in the native language of the country I’m going to. That was a bit problematic though with South Africa and its 11 or 12 national languages, plus all the tongue clicks.
You learn heaps about culture and history as well. It’s one thing to read about stuff in books, but it’s whole other when you actually visit the places that you’ve read about. For example, reading about the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia the horrific things they did and then physically standing in the killing fields or seeing pictures of the Uluru in Australia and then waking up REALLY early in the morning and see it during sunrise and hearing the Aborigines tell about the meaning of it in their culture. You can’t really compare the two.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Ayers Rock/Uluru, Australia
In the end, yes I have traveled a lot but I hope that I’ll be able to travel much more in the future. There are so many places I want to see and new cultures and people I want to meet and explore. I have missed a lot of things while being away from home like relationships and family/friend events but I would not change anything if I could.
Travelling plays a big part in who I am today and has made me a better person. Without travelling I wouldn’t be “me” and I really like the current me. So if travelling is something you think you would enjoy, I wholeheartedly encourage anyone to take the chance and give it a shot.
Koh Phayam, ThailandWritten by Roni Eerikäinen
Photos by Roni Eerikäinen
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