As I peer out the balcony of my high-rise apartment located on the 11th floor, the football field below me is covered in a light dusting of snow. Further off in the distance trees and homes merely two weeks ago sporting vibrant fall colors are now barren. It is wintertime in Canada; I have replaced my heavy backpack full of travel gear for a much smaller one now consisting of textbooks, pens and notepads spending my days studying to become a professional teacher at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.
The transition of going from indefinite overseas adventures to the role of teacher candidate hasn’t been as seamless as one might expect. When you’re on the road you get used to the constant stimulation of experiencing new cultures, new foods, new attractions and new people. Yesterday is not like the day before and tomorrow will resemble nothing of the present moment. When extended travel becomes your ‘normal’ day to day existence, coming back home to an odd world of schedules, deadlines, obligations and routines is a shock to the system.
For the first month and a half, I experienced mental anguish. When the train passing through the outskirts of the city was in earshot I wished I was on it. It didn’t matter where it was going.
Filled with doubt as to whether or not I made the right decision to go back to school, I found myself constantly fighting reality in a tug-o-war frenzy yearning to just pack up my backpack and bolt out of the door of my apartment without so much as a glance behind.
It is not that I didn’t appreciate the opportunity I currently have – as students at Queen’s University we’re taking an eight month after-degree program in Education with the end goal of becoming licensed teachers.
Why now? This program is the last of its kind in Canada as Ontario is following the lead of other provinces and switching from eight months to two years. There is no way under the sun I could hack two years of this. No, sir.
Why are we even doing this? This is our official backup plan in life; our ‘official’ attempt at being responsible and not pursuing careers in travel without something to potentially fall back on years down the road. We met teaching English in South Korea, just over two years ago, and someday we may decide we’d like to settle down somewhere for a while to teach abroad at an International school. By doing this now we’re giving ourselves that option.
About four weeks ago I experienced a shift in attitude. During my first week of practicum at Kindergarten, I was floored with one of the worst colds I’ve experienced in years. While the recovery process took nearly two weeks (I continued teaching the entire time) it was a reminder to me that I need to live in the present moment.
As I started to feel better physically I also came to peace with my decision to return to school. After all, I am the one who decided to do this in the first place. I started to realize I had a lot to be grateful for. I’m extremely lucky both Audrey and I got into Queen’s University. It is one of the top schools in Canada and apparently given the fierce competition for this final year of the program only 1 in 10 who applied was admitted. Upon finishing this degree we’ll have professional teaching options available at our disposal the rest of our lives.
As I’m sitting down at my computer writing this now, I’m mere weeks away from finishing the first semester signifying the halfway point of this program. We’re almost done and it seems just like yesterday that we got dropped off at our apartment building by Audrey’s parents.
Is this the end of our travels? Absolutely not! We intend to travel immediately upon completing this program at the end of April. In fact, this experience has made us realize just how much we value our nomadic lifestyle. I feel as though we have more clarity now than ever before: travel is our passion and figuring out a way to do this indefinitely as our career is our top priority. We’ve come up with more creative business ideas in the past few weeks than we have in over a year and a half. Having something taken away ignites a passion in you not to take things for granted.
Have you ever experienced depression after extended travels? Has it been challenging for you to adjust back to a ‘regular’ lifestyle after experiencing so many life changing events on the road? Here are a few tips to deal with this situation. Remember, you and I are both in the same boat right now 😉
1) Don’t stop traveling
No matter where you are currently living there are likely numerous interesting places you can visit nearby. Travel doesn’t have to be in far off corners of the world in order to be meaningful. Find out what is in your local area that you may have never experienced. Maybe a fruit farm is nearby or an island you’ve never explored or a trail you’ve yet to set foot upon. Take pleasure in fully immersing yourself in the area in which you currently reside.
2) Surround yourself with like minded friends
One of the most depressing aspects of travel is the typical conversations you have with friends and family upon returning from a life changing journey. Although you may have hours upon hours (or even days upon days) worth of stories to tell, you’ve likely encountered the experience where the person you are talking with may only have a 2 minute (or less) attention span to genuinely be interested in what you are saying before talk of relationship gossip, home improvement ideas or what is on television takes over the conversation. If you’re facing this find a community of friends with travel as interest where you can swap tales, exchange ideas and plan out future travels.
3) Live in the present moment
This one is the most key point in my opinion. It took me getting sick to remember to value what I have in life. If you’re living in the past or too focused on the future you’re not fully experiencing the here and now. It is wonderful to relive travel memories and to plan new ones; however, not at the expense of not enjoying where you currently are. Life is too short not to appreciate what you have going on right now.
4) Have goals and a date set for your next trip
If taking that next big trip is a high priority start to make concrete plans to manifest it into reality. This includes figuring out where you want to go and what exact date you have in mind as the end goal. “I’d like to travel someday,” is an impotent goal and one that will not cause you to take immediate action towards making it happen. Know when you want to go, how much money you’ll need to make it happen and then start thinking of all the ways you can earn and save as hard as you can to make it happen sooner rather than later.
5) Remember that nothing is permanent. You’re not stuck.
If you’re feeling stuck or in a mental rut remember that nothing is permanent. Your situation will change over time. You’ll be back on the road before you know it. Keep this in mind when days seem like months and months seem like years. When you really think about it, I’m sure you’ll realize that time is flying by.
Tips On How To Focus On School When You’d Rather Be Traveling
- Establishing clear goals – It is imperative to identify your academic objectives and set realistic, achievable targets with defined deadlines. Doing so will enable you to retain a sense of direction and purpose, thereby helping you maintain a singular focus on your studies.
- Develop a comprehensive schedule – A well-crafted timetable which includes study hours, leisure activities and travel plans should be created and adhered to with utmost discipline. This means prioritizing studies above other activities.
- Plan ahead for travel – It is essential to schedule your travel excursions around academic holidays or recess periods to ensure that you do not miss any critical coursework or exams.
- Organize your study space – It is crucial to keep your study materials well-organized and within reach, enabling you to remain focused and avoid any unnecessary distractions.
- Seek academic companionship – Collaborating with likeminded individuals, who share similar academic aspirations, will foster a culture of motivation and discipline that will assist in maintaining an unyielding focus on studies.
- Embrace periodic breaks – Incorporating short breaks during study sessions to re-energize and recalibrate is essential. Such breaks can be utilized for stretching, meditating or short walks outdoors.
- Minimize distractions – To concentrate, it is important to limit your exposure to any form of disruption, including social media and phones. Avoid multitasking and remain committed to one task at a time.
- Utilize a reward system – Establishing a rewards system that reinforces positive behavior after achieving academic objectives can be a powerful motivator. Simple rewards such as indulging in one’s favorite meal or activity can be a compelling incentive.
- Maintain focus – Staying mindful of the long-term benefits that academic achievement can provide can be an excellent motivator in sustaining focus and dedication to academic goals.
- Foster a positive mindset – Cultivating an optimistic outlook and maintaining a positive attitude can be critical in achieving a successful balance between travel and studies. Remember, with the right mindset and approach, both can be pursued simultaneously without detracting from the other.
How To Appreciate Travel More
Traveling can be an incredible experience that broadens your horizons and exposes you to new cultures, ideas, and ways of living. However, it can sometimes be challenging to fully appreciate your travel experiences, especially when you feel homesick or overwhelmed. Here are some tips on how to appreciate travel more and make the most of your adventures:
- Embrace the culture: One of the best ways to appreciate travel is to embrace the local culture. Take the time to learn about the customs, traditions, and way of life of the people living in the destination you are visiting. This can help you gain a deeper understanding of their perspectives and beliefs, and also help you connect with them on a more meaningful level. Participating in cultural activities such as festivals, traditional dances, or visiting historical landmarks can also be a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture and appreciate it more fully.
- Slow down: It can be tempting to pack your travel itinerary with as many activities and destinations as possible. However, this can lead to burnout and prevent you from fully appreciating the beauty of each place you visit. Instead of rushing from one place to another, take the time to slow down and savor each moment. Stop and smell the roses, take in the sights and sounds around you, and allow yourself to simply be present in the moment. This can help you appreciate the little things that make each destination unique and special.
- Connect with locals: One of the best ways to appreciate travel is to connect with the local people. Engage in conversations with locals and learn about their daily lives, interests, and passions. This can provide you with unique insights into their culture and lifestyle, and also help you build meaningful connections. Try learning a few words or phrases in the local language, as this can help you break the ice and show that you are genuinely interested in learning more about the people and the place you are visiting.
- Try new things: Traveling is an opportunity to step outside your comfort zone and try new things. Be adventurous and try new foods, activities, and experiences. Whether it’s bungee jumping, learning to cook a local dish, or simply striking up a conversation with a stranger, stepping outside your comfort zone can be a transformative experience that enriches your travel experience.
- Keep a travel journal: Documenting your travel experiences in a journal can help you appreciate them more fully. Write down your thoughts, feelings, and reflections, and take photos or make sketches of the places you visit. This will help you relive your travel experiences and appreciate them even more in the future.
- Travel sustainably: As a responsible traveler, it is important to be mindful of your impact on the environment and the local community. By traveling sustainably, you can contribute positively to the destinations you visit, and leave a lasting positive impact. This can include choosing eco-friendly accommodations, supporting local businesses, and being respectful of local customs and traditions.
- Practice gratitude: Finally, one of the most important ways to appreciate travel is to practice gratitude. Be grateful for the opportunity to travel and the experiences you have had. Take the time to reflect on the amazing things you have seen and done, and the memories you have created. Appreciating the present moment can also help you cultivate a more positive outlook on life, which can benefit you long after your travels have ended.
- Take breaks: While it’s important to make the most of your travels, it’s also important to take breaks and recharge your batteries. Don’t feel guilty about taking some downtime to relax and rejuvenate. This can help you appreciate your travel experiences more fully and also prevent burnout.
- Be open-minded: Traveling can expose you to new ideas and perspectives that you may not have encountered before. Be open-minded and receptive to these experiences, even if they challenge your preconceived notions or beliefs. This can be a powerful way to broaden your horizons and gain a deeper understanding of the world around you.
- Learn from your mistakes: Traveling can be unpredictable, and things don’t always go according to plan. Instead of becoming frustrated or disappointed, use these moments as opportunities to learn and grow. Reflect on what went wrong and how you can improve your experiences in the future. This can help you appreciate the successes even more, and also help you become a more resilient traveler.
How have you dealt with post-travel blues in your life? Was it hard to readjust coming back home? Please let me know in the comment section below: