My post for day four is another list – I promise the whole month won’t be like this!
In July last year I travelled to India with a group of volunteers to do lots of things (including a couple of days volunteering, because apparently that’s what volunteers do best). While there we took in Pune, Agra, Jaipur and Delhi. It was the trip of a lifetime, and while it was great at the present time I have no real desire to return – been there, done that, got the t-shirt (literally!).
I thought it would be interesting to share a few of the things I learned during my trip, even though the reality is I probably could have learned them anywhere. I find great comfort in the idea of fate, so I like to believe there’s a reason that India was this amazing, eye-opening experience.
- I really hate rice.
In 2006 I visited Sri Lanka with the school and came to the conclusion that I didn’t just dislike rice, I hated it. After two weeks of eating little more than dry rice, I (understandably) proceeded to avoid it for the next 10 years. Then I went to India, where I discovered that I still really, really hate rice, and that I also still really hate curry. Hallelujah for snacks.
- Feminism is a global movement.
My volunteering project was with an organisation called the Green Tare Foundation, and my wee group were tasked with designing posters and running activities with teenager girls on the themes of empowerment and gender equality. Not entirely sure what kind of mindset we were going into, we were pleasantly surprised to discover that these girls were switched on when it came to wanting the same as their male counterparts had. Feminism is not just a western ideal.
- Age is not an indicator of maturity.
I feel like this one kind of speaks for itself – older does not necessarily mean more mature. Sometimes it can mean quite the opposite.
- You are responsible for your own happiness.
Although it doesn’t always feel like it, your own happiness is something which you can pretty much control. You can decide to be happy, or you can decide to be unhappy. You can decide if you are going to let other people kill your vibe or upset you. I vote happy. Always.
- Journalists are the most hated people ever.
We landed in India and were going through Border Control at about 2am – shattered, apprehensive and already craving comfort food. This is the bit where they check that you remembered to get a visa to say you’re a good person and they let you in to the country. Except when you tourist visa lists your occupation as “journalist” the Border Control man’s eyes begin to twinkle as he thinks of all the questions he can ask your sleep-deprived self. What kind of work do you do? What kind of journalism? What kind of newspaper? What do you write about? Will you be working when you are here? What will you be doing when you are here? What kind of volunteering? What sights will you be seeing? Do you intend to work upon your return? How long will you be here? I thought I was maybe just paranoid, but when I asked some of the rest of the group I discovered that in fact, no I was not being paranoid and yes I was THE ONLY ONE to get asked questions. I appear to have made a terrible career choice.
These five points which I have chosen of course don’t include anything about the eye opening experiences of skinny cows, stray dogs and walking through slum communities but hopefully they can give you a taste of how travelling can teach you so much about yourself and your own life as well as exposing you to other cultures.
There might be a second part to this post with more lessons, or there might not be. I guess we’ll all just have to wait and see what I come up with for the rest of the month!
What kind of self-discoveries have you made while travelling? Who else doesn’t like rice? Let me know in the comments below!