There are these moments when I suddenly stop anywhere at any time and inhale deeply the fresh and intoxicating air surrounding me. I get lost in the moment and try to breath it all in and embrace the moment. That certain air has this special smell to me – the smell of freedom. The smell of freedom reminds me of my passion to travel the world, to jump into adventures and live the day to the fullest. It is a flashback to the most precious memories of my 23 years on this beautiful world.
I remember, when I was little, I could not define this smell that made me feel like the happiest girl in the world. Sometimes it is the smell of my dad’s home town – the air full of the smell of burned wood. Sometimes it is the freshness of the forest of my mom’s village in Turkey. Sometimes it is the smell that reminds me of wandering in an unknown town. This moment gives me a glimpse of the best parts of my life. I experience the gratitude for being able to travel and explore the very moment, for living fully.
The first time I was able to define this smell was when I travelled for the first time on my own. Walking through the busy streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil, all alone and happy. A breeze of fresh air, my heart skipped a beat and a warm feeling spread from my heart to all over my skin. In that moment, I realized that I was free like a bird. Nothing could hold me back. In this very moment I knew that I fell in love – with travelling the world.
Even though I travelled a lot in Europe, did several trips and frequently visited the hometowns of my parents in Turkey, I consider my start into this new lifestyle when I did an internship for two and a half months in Brazil. But maybe without even realizing it, this might have been my destiny from childhood on. I was born and raised in Germany by my Turkish parents and our family expanded quickly – today I have relatives from all over the world. We are a multicultural family par excellence. Still, it took me 20 years to realize that I wanted more than this.
After Brazil, I decided to do my study abroad in Casablanca, Morocco. This was probably the best decision of my life. I learned to dare to explore the unknown, to embrace every soul that crossed my path and love the moment of life. I dared to be and love myself and to be humble at the same time. Travelling in Morocco, made me experience the strongest love and passion – today I still hold this feelings and emotions dear to my heart.
Afterwards there was no halt anymore – a few months after returning to Germany, I planned a trip to India and again – I totally fell for another beautiful country, its culture and people. Here I started to wonder, why I love doing this so much. Staying at the weird places, walking for hours till I cannot feel my legs anymore, enduring bed bugs bites and crazy sunburns. This is what travellers, adventurers and backpackers have to face every single day. We give up our comfort in order to grow and widen our horizons. We leave the traces of our past behind, we stumble and learn to get back on our feet. I came to the conclusion that I do not need an answer to love something as long as it comes from my heart.
From there on, my semester breaks turned into adventures. Travelling to England, Canada, France and Turkey in eight weeks. Attending the weddings of my friends all over the world. Visiting soul mates and dear companions, travelling with my family and backpacking the country of my heritage on my own. I seized every single opportunity to experience the next adventure. Backpacking in Turkey showed me that I need more than to solely travel – I wanted to connect. To be more than a tourist and live the culture to wherever I go. I wanted to be a part of it.
Finishing my bachelor thesis, I knew that this was it. I packed my humongous luggage to do a three month internship in Malaysia and another three months in Sri Lanka. This was totally necessary – I was fed up with routine, routine started to stab me from behind. In every corner there was routine and it crushed me. Leaving everything behind was extremely difficult this time, although I knew that I would return for a couple of months at some point. But this was the essential step, the determination that travelling would be a part of me and my life till my very last breath.
It turned out to be exactly what I needed to do. Over the months I learned about different religions and cultures, I learned to respect and tolerate everyone and put myself in their shoes. I asked questions about everything and talked with everyone. There was no limit – I became like a sponge and absorbed about everything. I did what I always wanted to be – I became a part of the culture and the people.
Whenever I return to Germany, nothing can tear me down anymore. I manifested the idea of travelling and connecting abroad in my mind, heart and soul. Certainly, I get frustrated once in a while but I always know that there will come the next opportunity to explore more of this universe. I do the things that I have learned or got to know abroad in order to keep up the spirit. Dancing Indian temple dance, doing yoga, language courses, cooking exotic meals and meeting an international bunch of people remind me every day of what expects me out there. Several times per week I dive in other cultures and traditions to feed my curiosity. These occasions prepare me for the next adventure that will come eventually – no doubt.
Travelling made me grow from an overly ambitious and weird student into an overly ambitious and still weird life lover, backpacker, adventurer, full-time human and a travelling dork. I grew as a person, daughter, sister and friend. My friends come from all over the world and tolerance, respect and a peaceful attitude are the supreme rules for us. The best thing is – travelling can teach this to anyone as long as you allow it to change you
Sitting in my garden and watching my dog wandering around, a breeze touches my face. I inhale deeply and I smell freedom. I can smell freedom because I choose to do so.
I can smell freedom because I decided to sacrifice my comfortable life for it. I can smell freedom because I embrace every moment of life.
This is what travelling taught me.
Photo credit: Seher Cam, Andres Joseph (www.andresjoseph.com), Antonia E.