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Throwback V: What 5 years of travel brought me to where I am now

China might have been my last time going abroad for the next couple of years. Though, it is not the first time I’d have to say goodbye to a lot of people and a culture that started to grow on me, it’s a bit different now. Normally, I’d already know to which country I’d be going next to for a longer time period. This time, the only thing I know is that I’ll be in belgium for the next 3 years. So what did all that travelling teach me over the course of the past 5 years? Have a look at the 8 character traits I developed through travelling:

1. Leaving my comfort zone

Australia was the first country I travelled solo. And, oh boy, if I am completely honest, I had no idea what I started. I had a year’s time to travel the entire country, thinking that I would settle somewhere and just fly out from my safe home base. Nothing was further from the truth. Leaving my comfort zone all the time and ending up in the most stunning or challenging places became more like an addiction.

It is a place where you challenge yourself like no one, no books or any home-like situation could ever teach you. Bear in mind that you are far away from home and that it isn’t as simple as just calling your insurance or family if anything happens. Same goes for emotional ranting, you kinda learn to just keep it together.

2. Perspective

Perspectives are an important part of one’s life. Nevertheless, we might all agree on it, but what does it actually mean? I learned it by looking through different people’s eyes. Whilst travelling, you do not only meet the culture of the country but also a very diverse set of cultures from all the other backpackers you’re meeting. Meaning, a second perspective isn’t enough. There are maybe 10 different cultural perspectives while there are 25 different personal perspectives in one conversation with travellers. Only travelling and meeting new people on a daily basis could teach me this.

3. Resilience

This is probably one of my favourites. Before my travels, I had the tendency of being a bit flaky and very lazy. So if anything happened, well, let’s just say that I didn’t like coping with it nor even facing it. Different from being in your comfort zone, one does not have time for that whilst travelling. I can tell you this from my travels. The pictures we show, the amazing stories we tell and the mental strength we gain isn’t all that easy as it seems to get to.

Let’s take SE Asia and its beautiful landscape, one might have had to take a 10 hours bumpy bus ride whilst being eaten alive by mosquitos whilst being starved since there are no food places around to see a waterfall. Same goes for doing business in Switzerland, acing a project might look amazing but to live up to their standards, one could work till 5am during the weekend to meet his deadlines.

4. Communication skills

This concerns more than just language skills. To be honest, my English improved bigtime over the years due to speaking or texting it on a daily basis. Nevertheless, what I mean with communication skills is the layers around the language. Through meeting different cultures, I learned to communicate with locals through body language and tone of voice without actually having to speak their language. The easiest difference there’s to make is the one in between a high- and low context culture. All these small aspects certainly raise you to a higher level when conversing in different situations.

5. Patience & adaptability

Patience is key during travels. Yes I missed busses, trains, boats and other types of transport throughout the years. It doesn’t really matter to be fair. I mean, don’t miss your flight back home.. But be adaptable. I have been stranded in the most remote places and the only thing I could think about was, I am free. I can literally do whatever I want. Doesn’t matter if I go to the left or to the right. Correspondingly, always be patient, I learned to just accept certain situations on how they are. And I can not change that, so I can only wait and have an alternative close to hand.

6. To be curious

Curiosity has always been one of my driving forces of travel. Though, I had to learn to have a healthy amount of it and not just wanting to discover new places all the time. Reason why, I tended to take the environment, I was already in, for granted. And I kept doing that without taking a rest.

After a while it just becomes a lot to take in and I simply had to be grateful of where I was in that moment. Which was probably a jungle, a snowy mountain ridge, a reef or whatever. To be curious in the moment is what I learned here, and not thinking about the day after while missing out on what’s actually happening in front of your eyes.

7. Stress management

I think it kinda includes a fair bit of what I mentioned before. But yeah, stress-management books are not even close to what you have to cope with during travels. This can go from having to manage a lot of things at the same moment to financial stress to even being afraid of forgetting your favourite towel in the hostel, if you know what I mean. Travelling brings a lot of responsibility with and there’s nothing to do about it. Managing everything is a skill which I inevitably had to learn. And I suddenly learned to let go of the small things like the towel in the hostel.

8. To just do it

Take a leap, as long as I do not ruin the cornerstones I’ve built throughout the years, I don’t really have anything to lose. Especially not if it’s a considerate leap. And it has been working out so far, though, with a good amount of reflection. Travelling pushes you into a corner sometimes where you just have to do it, this goes literal as figurative (as for most of the things written above).

Bringing all these aspects back home with you is one thing, adapting them with the culture that lives there is the other. What I mean with this is that “home” never really changes bigtime. And this to great frustration of most of the backpackers I know. So by the time you come back, people do not like recognising / do not understand the changes a traveller went through. This because it is just too much to take from a third party perspective. Which is also why we backpackers do not always bother explaining how it was abroad. And that is totally comprehensible from my point of view.

But then there’s the real challenge, adapt back to the culture whilst sticking to the persona you built throughout the time you lived abroad. And to be fairly honest, I think it might even be easier to use these strengths in a professional culture than in an emotional culture. But only time will tell.

Though, it never really stops, does it?


24 gedachten over “Throwback V: What 5 years of travel brought me to where I am now

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  1. Good summary of what happens when you decide to become a citizen of the world, rather than of some country. I wouldn’t worry about what’s next. Things will happen as they do, just be prepared.
    You’ve come a long way since we picked you up in Brisbane all those years ago!

    Geliked door 1 persoon

  2. Boeiende lectuur, ‘kosmopollers’ als jij die niet bij de pakken blijven zitten onder de kerktoren om daar naar hun navel te staren, that’s what this world needs (amongst others…)

    Geliked door 1 persoon

  3. I can see myself in like every single one of those points. I love this blog (and also real life conversations, of course) because it inspires me and and makes me feel that I am on the right track – that everybody feels the feelings I sometimes have.

    Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts!

    Geliked door 1 persoon

  4. Reading your posts always brings a huge smile on my face. I believe that many people who did travel or are abroad right now can relate to everything that you mentioned in this post. It is beautiful to see how you and your personality can change and how you further develop as a person once you leave your home country and as you said your “comfort zone”. Many times you don’t even realize how much inspiration you take from all of the people you meet. I am very happy to see how your perspective and I hope that you will keep us updated on your future endeavors and I wish you good luck in your future adventures! 🙂

    Geliked door 1 persoon

  5. Reading this seconds after watching the last game of thrones sure gives you the thrills.
    You are a stark going his own way doing what can be done.
    If there is one person that would go west of Westeros, it would be you.

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    1. After watching it myself just about now, I do not really have a proper response to this. It’s just very fulfilling and simply amazing to hear this validation from you ,brother. Will be glad to see you back in Belgium 🙂


  6. Knowing that updating a blog on a regular basis is not an easy task, you deserve praise for your commitment!!
    It’s one thing to travel, it’s another thing to be able to reflect on the newly-gained experiences and appreciate while simultaneously assessing the culture and society where one immerses themselves.
    Having lived abroad myself, I agree that it forces us to realise our own limitations then followed by finding strengths in vulnerability. On top of that, to be exposed to foreign norms and values helps us to be more flexible in thinking and more tolerant and respectful in behaviour.

    Real great stuff you have here!! It really is a record of your personal growth over the years. Looking forward to what lies ahead!!

    Geliked door 1 persoon

  7. Hello Frederik,
    It is as you say: the biggest shock is not in meeting all those other cultures, but in the confrontation with your “home culture” when coming back. Don’t lose your open mind, it is one of the most precious things traveling has brought you. Success!

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  8. I really resonated with points 2 and 6 here. There are 7.5 billion people on this planet, and each one comes with a unique story and background. I think about this all the time when meeting new people, especially those from different cultures. You learn different people’s perspectives on things, which allows you to adopt the positive aspects to your own self. Even from meeting you, I went through this process of adopting the great things about your own personality, habits, characteristics, etc. and will use them to improve my own well-being.

    Wonderfully written blog. It’s really been a pleasure getting to know you Fred, and I wish you luck in everything in your future!

    Geliked door 1 persoon

    1. That’s so true!! It all just takes a wee bit of reflection in order to progress. This compliment goes both ways, though!

      It was more than a pleasure meeting you Reed! I hope we’ll bump into each other somewhere on the planet 🙂


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