MY STORY (III): My Approach to Traveling (Currently)
Thank you for stopping by again and being part of my pre-launch series “My Story”.
A New Chapter - A New Base?
I arrived in San Diego on December 2, 2015. It should be a new chapter; a blank piece of paper. A chapter that still needed to be written.
One suitcase, a carry on - and I was an expat again. This time for 18 months - so the plan. I squeezed all that I needed (and that was not really much) into my luggage and found myself in a new city. A completely new environment I should call “home” the next one and a half years.
I settled in immediately and felt so much at ease from the minute I arrived.
The first few months were spent exploring San Diego, waking up every morning and thinking: WOW! This is where I am living for a while now?
For the first time in my life I felt - pretty quickly - as if this could really be a place where I wanted to stay put. Really? I couldn’t believe it, for I was so restless (in an unhappy way) when I was back in Germany that I thought I would never really find this one place that would allow me to really calm down. A base, so to speak.
San Diego, Downtown
From here I started exploring not just San Diego but the surrounding areas and even the west coast at large. I fell in love, deeper and stronger, with this place. Every time I came back to San Diego I felt happiness, a true home-sy feeling.
Slowing Down in Pace, Yet Seeing More
All of a sudden, I didn’t just want to squeeze in as many trips as I possibly could anymore, but go slow, soak it all in, wander through my new neighborhood, explore the nearby park, go on a little day trip up to the mountains. But slow. More mindful. I was beginning to see more by going slower. I was beginning to realize that I will always have itchy feet but that, apparently, there is a place for me allowing me to slow down - and then actually start embracing the real beauty of traveling.
I learned for myself that traveling is not just about seeing as many places as I possibly can. It’s about experiencing them. Immersing myself in the culture, possibly even living in a specific place for a little while.
My approach completely changed. I began to redefine traveling for myself.
As I did slow down my pace, I also developed the strong urge to be more out in nature and spent time hiking, wandering along the coast (and, granted, there’s beautiful spots here that allow the mind and soul to just break free).
No more crazy fast-city-hopping-ticking-places-off-the-bucket-list type of travel.
Slow Traveling and Its Effects
I was going through a real “travel approach” transformation. From “go, go, go” to “exploring slower, deeper, more mindfully”. I was beginning to reflect upon what traveling really means and does to me as a person.
I realized traveling and the desire to see more in this life will always be part of me. Maybe it’s even part of who I truly am.
I talked to a friend the other day and she said that once you’ve been an expat, you’ll always see the world with different eyes. And I think she is very right with that.
There is so much to see in one’s own backyard that I developed the desire to start local before moving on. To process impressions and appreciate this beautiful world of ours, being out in nature has become a great interest of mine.
The American Love Story Continues
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
My American love story should reach its peak in summer of 2016 when I met my now husband. (Funny how life goes, right?) That is a topic for one of the next posts.
When we started talking and quickly got to the topic of traveling, my initial reaction was: Wow, an American that travels.
Estes Park, Colorado
Now, this is not meant as an offense. I just liked that he had been abroad and is super open to exploring new places. There are many people that - apart from the financial situation - just don’t want to see more of this world. They choose to stay where they are. And I have met many Americans that have this mindset. And it’s cool if that’s what makes them happy and fulfills them.
So, that’s why that thought of “hey, he travels!” initially popped into my head.
Mt. Laguna, San Diego County
We began going places in San Diego, California, Arizona, and Colorado and shared a mutual love for the outdoors. It gave me so much fulfillment and helped me grow so much, with every step.
(Two years later and I am still here…now as a lawful permanent resident.)
A Transformed “Meaning” of Traveling
At some point, I could not even imagine choosing to travel to a big city as opposed to exploring a more remote place.
And so my travel approach, about 2 years ago, had completely changed.
I went from from rushing through cities and seeing as much as possible to going slow, embracing the process of exploring a new place as part of my personal growth process
I began asking myself questions whenever going somewhere new: What am I taking away? What can I learn about myself - and how to I see the world?
It helps give my life more purpose and meaning - and ultimately allows me to develop an even more open mindset towards the world and its people.