Your Brain on Travel
Hello World U.P. friends!
For those of you who may not know me my name is Ashley Grant (or as my blog followers know me Beloved Brainy Babe). I will be doing a social media take over for World U.P. this month focusing on how my first huge travel experience has changed me thus far!
Three months ago I hopped on a 16-hour flight and began my first adventure abroad. Prior to February 21st, I had never been anywhere outside of the US (except for two cruises which allowed me to spend a day at each of a few destinations in the Bahamas and Mexico). To me, the logical first step to change this was to move to Australia for the coming year…. By myself. While the idea of moving 10,000 miles away from home seemed a bit intimidating at first, it has been an incredible, growth-filled, life-changing experience already and I’m only about a fourth of the way through!
The first major adjustment that I am still working to cope with has been the enormous time difference from where I call home. Minus a few hours during my morning (or at home’s night) or some very late nights for myself allowing me to speak with home quite early in their morning, the vast majority of my time is spent without my family, friends, and support system just a phone call away. I have always been the kind of girl to call my mom during every grocery shop in case I can’t find which aisle an item is in and she can easily tell me what to look for, or when I received a good grade on an assignment during my days at university I would immediately text my family to share the good news. Now I can send that text, but I won’t get a response until I’m already asleep for the day and that initial excitement has worn off.
At first, this made for some long, lonely days. I felt I had nobody to share my good news with or to help me feel better when something not so ideal would happen. But then there was this internal shift, this sense of self-acceptance. I began doing things for me. That might sound a bit expected as everybody does things for themselves, but I began fully embracing the feelings of excitement and disappointment as they would come in my day. When I got my first job abroad or I missed the bus and had to wait 30 minutes until the next one came making me late for my first meeting of the day or when I confirmed an apartment that I would make my home for the coming months, I began learning to cope with these welcome (and maybe not so welcome) daily occurrences on my own. I would have a celebratory dance party in my room or practice some deep breathing to calm myself down or take myself to a nice lunch. After a while, I didn’t need the external support or reinforcement. I began fully being in the moment for myself, not to tell someone else about it.
My brain doesn’t look for someone else to tell me good job and make me feel reassured for my wins in life. It doesn’t need someone else to be its shoulder to cry on. This big, growing, emotion-filled, excited brain of mine has learned how to fully feel excited for itself and to soothe itself. What a wonderful change indeed.
I truly have become my own best friend in these three months.
Don’t get me wrong I have also met some incredible people and made heaps of friends (yes I’m also getting down with the Aussie lingo)! These new friends who have shown me that if I am my own silly self I will attract people towards me that are on that same fun mental wavelength. My social network has expanded in ways I could never have imagined. Prior to arriving in Australia, I had one friend who was a foreign exchange student in my high school that lived in Finland and two girls I had as pen pals in French class that lived in France. Otherwise, all of the human connections I had were housed within the great US of A. I now have friends in Germany, the UK, Italy, and all around Australia and, again, I’ve only been here three months! Image how much this social network will grow as this year progresses. This change has made me (and my now internationally connected brain) more engaging in new social settings for you’ll never know how great the person in front of you is at Starbucks unless you take the awkward leap and start a conversation with them.
For those of you who may not know, the ‘U.P.’ in World U.P. stands for understanding and peace. The final big change I have noticed through this experience thus far is that I feel I have a better understanding for those around me. Not only have I developed this desire to connect with all sorts of new humans, but I also have developed this better understanding of others. Traveling has made me realize that oftentimes people are not intending to be hurtful; rather the likely case is that the action that frustrated you may be the outcome of a cultural norm in their friend group, family structure, religion, etc. This newfound understanding has contributed to more peaceful interactions as I am no longer easily offended by others actions. The acceptance of others’ habits around me has also brought to light some of the oddities in myself that have remained my norm for so long due to my being surrounded by people with similar habits. Being in a new world so different from my own has made me see the good in others and learn to accept the things I don’t understand in them which has brought me a new inner peace as well.
Adventure is out there and you should find what that means for you! Every new adventure exposes your brain to something it may have never previously experienced. You don’t necessarily need to move to a new country to see changes in yourself. You could simply become a tourist in your own country or your own area. Put yourself out there, talk to those around you and see what changes you notice in your own brain!
Keep dreaming World U.P. community,
Beloved Brainy Babe