Sunday, July 26, 2015

Reflections on Six Months Away

Catching yet another train
This isn’t a normal blog post for me. I thought I would take a moment to reflect on the past six months.  My previous record for time away from the U.S. was broken when we passed the four month mark. There have been some challenges and it is definitely different to travel as a married almost 30 year old than to travel as a single 20 year old. First, I’m older. I like more old people things now and prefer the younger crowd less. There are more early mornings and fewer late nights. I also have someone else with me. All the time. Like, all the time. At last count the longest we have been apart is about 4 hours and that was probably two months ago. This may sound suffocating to some but we are remarkably good at being separate while still together. Plus, I would be completely lost without him. I mean, I could make it but, I wouldn’t want to. Having a partner gives you a different perspective to consider, someone to laugh at your jokes and listen to your musings and most importantly someone to remember where you are and where you are going. Here are a few other observations from our first six months away:

1.       Budget

We are no strangers to financial planning but living with a (fairly) strict daily budget really makes you think about your priorities. Do we stay in a tent and eat out or stay in a hostel and cook every meal? Do we buy this souvenir, go to this museum, or have a second helping of Aloo Ghobi? For us, the food typically wins. There have been some instances that we pick differently, and he goes to the museum or climbs the tower while I buy some postcards or another coffee. We can design days in line with our own preferences but with the same goal in mind. It may be unique to traveling but I think it is a mindset that will be hard to shake when we return home.


2.       Coffee

Coffee culture is pervasive. It may manifest in different ways and the beverage may not be coffee, but the majority of the places we have been have their own version of a coffee culture. Vietnam is well known for the high amount of coffee consumed. Their version of coffee involves sweetened condensed milk with a local coffee blend. We drank café sua da which means iced coffee with milk. In India and China, the coffee culture is actually a tea culture. In India people sell chai out of thermoses at the train station and in China EVERYONE carries around a mug with tea leaves and hot water dispensers are readily available. Greece has the frappe (not a frappuccino) and Italy has the cappuccino. Finding and enjoying the local beverages has been one of our favorite experiences over the last six months.


3.       Jeans

I miss jeans. That’s all.


4.       English

Given my profession, I think it is obvious that I treasure communication. If speaking English is not necessary to function as a tourist, it is definitely necessary to socially interact with other travelers. One of our first nights away, in Singapore, I remember seeing a non-native English speaking Western European talking with a man from China in the common room of our hostel. How were they able to interact and exchange stories? In English. It is something I find to be beautiful and perhaps one of the positive outcomes of globalization. If technology continues to advance in the area of voice recognition, then perhaps one day people will be able to communicate in their native languages with the aid of a device. But until then, English is bridging the divide.


5.       Home

Although “home is not a place” is something you hear time and time again, I have always had strong attachments to places and objects. Selling our first home was difficult for me as were all of the garage sells and craigslist advertisements. During the past six months, we have seen all types of houses and apartments and different places that people live. There are different sizes, different types of furniture, and different decorations. These places are always home to us, even if it is just for a night, and it has nothing to do with appearances. As incredibly cheesy as it sounds, home really is dependent on attitude and manifests as a state of mind rather than a location. 

1 comment:

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