Living in another country can be scary. You don’t speak the language, you don’t understand the customs, and when people start laughing – you’re not sure whether they’re laughing at you or not.
On top of all that, you’ve been completely stripped of all your usual safety blankets. Your friends, your family, your home, your work, your pets. Everything that used to make you feel like you had an important place in the world.
Sometimes it can suddenly feel like nobody really cares any more. As if you’ve been stripped of not only your identity but also your purpose.
Add to that the fact that long periods of travel often come during transitional phases in your life, phases when you’re not quite sure who you are anyway, and it can all be a bit overwhelming.
There is light at the end of this tunnel, though.
This stripping down of the self provides you with a clean slate from which to build something new. A time in which to re-examine your current beliefs and purpose, your current life situation, and see where some changes might be required.
Whether its for a few weeks or a few months or even a few years – travelling gives us time that we don’t usually have to really take stock and take a long, hard look at ourselves and our lives.
And if you speak the language of the country that you’re visiting, this process is taken to an even deeper level. Because the new life that you start building for yourself can suddenly take on elements from that country.
New friends, new customs, maybe even a new job or a new partner. Maybe even a permanent move to a new country.
Even if you don’t make such radical changes – engaging in that country’s daily life in a way that you only can if you speak the language will make your experience far richer and more satisfying.