MY STORY (II): My Approach to Traveling (The Beginning)

Bildschirmfoto 2018-02-08 um 06.56.29.png

Howdy and happy Friday, everyone!

Did you learn a thing or two about me in the previous (and first) pre-launch post of my series “My Story”? I sure hope so, as my goal is for you to understand who the redhead behind the soon-to-be-released new website, blog, and ultimately the brand The Redhead Story is. It’s always my goal to be true, honest, and have my personality shine through. I want you to be able to connect with me as the voice behind all the (written) content and things coming from this - soon the new - space.

Now, back to today’s topic.

Since The Redhead Story is all about travel, personal growth through exploring the world - or really even just your backyard -, as well as striving for living a more fulfilled, joyous life because of seeing different things and reflecting upon them, I thought it was only natural to write a post about what my personal approach to travel looks like. And ultimately, how and why it has changed throughout the past few years. 

IMG_0127.JPG

Visiting my best and oldest friend Rena in Bordeaux, France. 

I am splitting this up in two posts; this is the first one, talking about what my approach to traveling used to look like, before then talking about the way I see travel now in the next post.

Alrighty, let me sit back here, take a deep breath, one more sip of my coffee (today with a splash of French vanilla creamer for the sweeter tooth) and start typing away.

Expat Life As Reason for My Wanderlust

Let me tell you a story - or so it goes.

CIMG4596.JPG

Before leaving Syracuse - with my former host family and to date still good friends.  

It all started when I was 16, having been born and raised in Germany, and then got the opportunity - or took the leap, or was fortunate enough … whatever you would like to call it - to spend 6 months in New York state. I was abroad alone for the very first time in my life. I have never been more homesick the first few days; but I would never have wanted to miss this experience as this was the beginning of my growing wanderlust, which has ultimately brought me to where I am today.

IMG_4182.JPG

During one of my visits to New York; visiting my friend Aly at her college, SUNY Geneseo. 

When I returned home I had two years of high school left. I went on ski trips with my family, on vacation up by the North Sea, and a couple other German cities. Most importantly, I returned to central New York a couple times as the relationship I had developed with my host family and a handful of friends on the other side of the big pond drew me back. 

IMG_4142.JPG

Those were the days. SUNY Geneseo. Prepping for my first college party. Haha. It was pretty wild. 

Each time I returned, I left a bigger piece of my heart stateside. 

My American love story was unfolding.

A Growing Desire to See More

When I started college - first time living on my own - I went on little trips here and there, on the weekends, with friends, or with my boyfriend at that time.

My thirst to be more independent, to see more of this world and even live abroad again, grew. I hopped back on a plane to the States whenever possible.

IMG_4213.JPG

Letchworth State Park, NY..

I think the travel bug really bit me hard shortly before graduating from my bachelors. I had to make a decision: continue my studies or start the working life. I didn’t feel ready for the real world but I also didn’t really want to continue studying. The struggle.

IMG_4253 (2).JPG

Hiking in beautiful NY with my friend Aly - Letchworth State Park. 

But then, didn’t have to think for long; it just made sense.

Doing my master’s abroad. What a win-win situation this would be.

I got down to business, got accepted at Goldsmiths College in London (this city, ever since I first visited, has always fascinated me because of its liveliness, multiculturalism, and history).

CIMG5478.JPG

My Lithuanian friend Gabi in London; London Bridge. Good memories we made. 

The next year was meant to be spent in England’s capital, as a postgraduate student and, again, German expat.

DSC06682.JPG

Exploring Cambridge, England, by boat. 

Here, my adventure really started and wanderlust went through the roof.

City Hopping - More in Less Time

During my time in London, I rented a room at an English family’s house. It had its pros and cons but a big pro was definitely the fact that I got to immerse myself in the culture more. 

DSC04933.JPG

Celebrating the Queen’s birthday with my London girls. 

Granted, it’s not too different from Germany. Yet, it is a different culture after all.

CIMG5525.JPG

On the path of history at Stonehenge, England. 

Since my MA included a lot of self-study and thus only a few hours on campus for seminars and lectures during the week, I had quite a bit of time to go explore.

This is when it hit me: I had so many amazing places in England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland at my fingertips. I could just GO.

Out of a love for writing and sharing stories in general, The Redhead Story was born to document a year of student and expat life in England and travels in the UK.

CIMG6474.JPG

I call Scotland my spiritual home (the hair color…) - and I love Edinburgh!

I didn’t have a lot of money, obviously, and so my approach to traveling was this:

Public transport (well, everyone takes it in Britain, basically), short overnight trips, as many cities and places in as short of a time frame as possible. Hostel dorms played an integral part.

My mindset basically was to tick things off the list, specifically cities, as I saw those as culture hubs - and then move on.

39.JPG

Exploring sleepy, Scottish Stirling with my bestie Rena. 

It was awesome doing this for a while but it made me feel even more restless. As if I was getting into a real rush of having to go quicker, seeing even more in a shorter period of time. I know now that I was missing the actual ability to reflect upon what seeing all those places did to me. (But that is a story for the next post.)

An Unbearable Feeling of Restlessness

IMG_1540.jpg

A trip to Helsinki, Finland. 

Upon return to Germany, I fell into this deep hole. This time, it was not a reverse culture shock, like I experienced when I came back to Germany after having lived in New York. It was rather this daunting feeling of uncertainty mixed with a whole lot of wanderlust and painful restlessness. I hit rock bottom.

I didn’t know what would come next; I only knew one thing: I didn’t want to stay in Germany but wanted to live abroad - again.

IMG_1464.jpg

This gem is from Tallinn, Estonia. 

I started working in a marketing firm but wanted more. I don’t think I have ever felt so lost. This sounds so dramatic when I re-read this but it’s exactly what it felt like for me. I. was. not. happy. with where I was in life because at that point, being at the young age of 23 and having lived abroad for a significant amount of time twice really had a great impact on me.

CIMG4835.JPG

Not sure why I am making this face here, but this shot was taken in Djerba, Tunisia. 

I ended up moving to Leipzig at the beginning of 2015 to start working with an international organization. It’s a nice city, but I never clicked with it and had a lot of moments where I really just wanted to quit. 

IMG_0245.JPG

I love Prague (Czech Republic). Even in the rain. 

During that time, I continued city hopping. Destinations included Spain, Czech Republic, Finland, Helsinki, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia.

IMG_2375.jpg

It was freeeezing in Riga, Latvia. 

I was restless. Unhappily restless. I just wanted to bounce from one place to the next, just for the purpose of seeing - but I was lacking a deeper understanding of what travel can do to me.

IMG_20150607_100456.jpg

Nothing but smiles in Barcelona. 

And then, out of the blue, I had the opportunity to come to San Diego (I had to check on a map where this was, but soon realized I hit the jackpot); initially for 18 months. It should be my third and, at that point, longest expat experience.

And ever since I set foot on American soil - again - on December 2, 2015, my approach to life and thus ultimately traveling has rapidly changed.

Stay tuned for part II - where I am in life and what traveling means to me now.