Mind of a traveller
I was 23 in Japan, living a life free of responsibility, every young 20 something dream. Yet there I was, residing in a cramped one-bedroom flat, wishing that I made different choices.
A mild state of depression slowly crept over me, causing me to reevaluate my current situation. The tsunami hitting northern Japan, causing a radiation leak at the Fukushima plant. The situation made me feel entirely helpless, for a while I pondered about how my life had led me here, in this tiny bedsit, watching the walls alone. Wishing the time away; hoping something –anything that would come along and put me on the right path towards contentment.
The anxiety didn’t let up when my brother visited me that year, if anything I saw his freedom to explore the world and I envied it. During most March 2011, we were trapped in my flat too scared by all the fear-mongering of the British media about radiation poisoning to venture outside. A feeling of being imprisoned slowly took over, as trains were cancelled, flights delayed and food scarce.
Some might say that I was ungrateful, and looking back at it, maybe I was. But even after the threat of radiation had died down, I woke up everyday almost in tears. I went to a job I had no passion for only to increase my bank balance and secure my visa.
Flights out of the country became too expensive, the low job prospects back at home, promises made to friends I had to keep; the chains were tight and every time I resisted it only toughened its grasp.
As an expatriate, friends come and go, and there is never a ‘forever’, only for those who have set up shop here with families and I had no temptation to follow, if anything there attitudes towards Japan only made me want to leave even more.
Two years later still miserable I knew I had overstayed my welcome. Rather than book a ticket straight out of Japan, I opted to visit Fukuoka, costing me no more than a few hundred pounds. After a brief romantic encounter with an Australian; I was in the air –literally (and figuratively).
Travelling is a life-changing event that affects people’s way of thinking, but you also find yourself appreciating home-comforts. Once I landed at Heathrow, I inhaled the multiculturalism of London and my first week passed in a blur of museums, long walks, and “good ol’ English pubs”. This was home.
The long job applications started and I was working within the first three weeks of being back home. The job I had trained for and tried vainly to find in Tokyo. An ideal situation to most but it happened again; the stability had started to cause an unease. I was in a situation where I had total control, which ironically made me scared.
I was becoming an “everyday robot” and I ceased the opportunity to fly off again, this time to New York.
But it wasn’t enough, I was travelling to modern cities, while I had always thrived on the historical sites, nature reserves and mountains a country had to offer. There was no stopping me from climbing mountains, visiting temples –seeing the world.
A few weeks ago, at my computer I scrolled through volunteer opportunities online. With the savings I had accumulated I booked my first expedition to Peru to help on an archaeological dig at Vilcabamba. It did the trick, and settled my self-induced anxiety. Jealousy still gets the best of me when I see tourists wandering through London, exploring the hidden alley ways, or discovering that quaint little pub behind the promenade of shops in Holborn. But, I know its only a matter of time before I’m on the road (again.)