Life Lessons Learned From 6 Months Abroad

Travel has a funny way of throwing life lessons at you in buckets – along with many other beautiful bucket-fulls, of course, like London’s notorious rain, too-delicious-to-avoid Swiss chocolate, and ‘when in Rome’ Italian gelato.

Life, regardless of how much we travel, will eventually teach us the following lessons; I, however, apparently chose to learn them all at once, within a six month period traveling abroad. Finding myself in situations that proved these lessons to be true, I now have no choice but to integrate them full-heartedly into my life.

Here are some life lessons learned from travel that I will never forget.

1. Seemingly unfortunate circumstances are often blessings in disguise.

When I found myself slighted from a previously arranged apartment in Budapest, I felt totally defeated. I was alone in Eastern Europe, in a non-English-speaking country and in eight days, I would be homeless. But, as it turned out, this was the key to finding my incredible downtown Budapest apartment which was cheaper and something I’ll never forget. I ended up being very thankful for the circumstance that initially seemed unfortunate, but turned out to be just the opposite.


2. Eye contact and a smile are the best form of communication.

When you can’t speak the language, you learn to get by with other forms of communicating. And while your hand gestures begin getting really good, you realize that smiling and making eye contact goes a long way even where English words would suffice.


3. People are generally warm and welcoming.

The world really isn’t such a bad place, after all. Sure we hear about terrible villains on the news everyday, but you know who we don’t hear about? The countless number of strangers who offer to help you with your giant suitcase up and down stairs in subway stations, onto trains at railway yards, and through the airport when you’re about to miss your flight. Thank you strangers, thank you!


4. Music is the best cure for loneliness.

We all love music, obviously, but it takes a particular circumstance to suddenly realize just how powerful a good beat and chorus is. Do you know that you can actually save yourself from a day of heartache and loneliness just by having a morning jam session before leaving the house? Yep, you can.


5. Uncertainty is a positive thing.

Long-term travel is inherently tied to this thing many of us dread, but for no real good reason. Uncertainty, as it turns out, is a really good thing because it opens up your future for anything amazing and miraculous to happen. And while you might feel like you need to have a PLAN in order to keep breathing, letting go and allowing your world and future to envelope you is actually really fun and exciting.

And, guess what? Everything does work out in the end.


6. Appreciation is key to happiness.

If you can’t have appreciation and gratitude for the wonderful things you already have in your life, you might find that it’s really difficult to grasp that feeling of happiness. So be grateful, remind yourself of all the things you have to appreciate in your life, and experience the happiness that flows from just that simple thought process.


7. Self-growth is the outcome of effort and belief.

If you want to change as a person, you can. But first, you have to believe that this is not only possible, but probable. Second, you have to put conscious effort toward that change and growth you so desire, each and every day.


8. Miracles do happen.

You just need to believe in them and acknowledge them when they occur!


9. When you follow your heart, the universe will grant you a guardian angel.

The best way I can describe my six months abroad is this: I’m a rockstar at the beginning of her career, with little in the way of confidence; I’m on stage and I jump into the crowd, unsure of what will happen next; I let go and pray for the best; my fans not only hold me up, but lift me so high that I get to sit on the moon and collect stars on my way back down to Earth.

Yeah, just go for it.


10. There is something positive in everything. 

Let’s stop dwelling on the negative and instead dwell on the positive!

The ability to see these positive aspects is the simple outcome of practice, and though it’s not always obvious, there’s good in everything.


11. Tricky situations are an opportunity for growth.

Tricky situations come as a package deal with life; but those of us who are wise see our ‘tricky’ situations not as failures or disasters, but as opportunities for growth.


12. True relationships aren’t distanced by distance.

You don’t really need to run away to Europe for six months to realize who your true friends are, but the process of putting distance between yourself and the ones you love most is a sure-fire way to establish the truest of true. When you go away for a long period of time, you’ll likely find that many relationships and friendships will slip away easily, while those that are most important will remain as strong as ever.


13. Life is too short to wait.

Life is also too unpredictable to wait. If there’s something you want to do, something you want to say to someone, or simply something you want to buy for yourself, do it now. You just never know when life will throw you a curveball.

Just buy the one-way ticket, already.


14. That inner voice? It’s been right all along.

I had difficulty tuning into mine, but I found that spending more time alone and just following that initial gut instinct strengthened my ability to listen to my inner voice. And once I found it for good I realized it was there all along, and it was always right, too.

 

Full story published on Elite Daily. 

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1 Comment

  • Reply Karolayn Rodriguez August 4, 2014 at 6:12 PM

    Really really good post and very encouraging too. I just moved a year ago to a new country and those notes pretty much described everything.

    http://blackclassylongline.blogspot.com

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