What have I learned so far?

This is being written on the train, once again, because Boy and I are headed down to Brighton for the weekend! I’m going to meet up with my great-aunt and cousin for the first time in eight years, and I am really looking forward to it.

I thought I’d take a break, this week, from recounting what we have done, and instead talk a bit about what I have learned.

Trevor Noah said, in one of his recent stand up shows, “travel is the one thing you will never waste your money on.” Before leaving New Zealand, I would have been a bit dubious on whether that was true or not. Now, having travelled for six months and moved to the other side of the world, I completely agree.

So, what have I learned in the past seven months?

The first thing I learned (almost immediately) after leaving New Zealand was how lucky Boy and I are to be from New Zealand. As an example, Nepal was going through their first set of local elections in 26 years. Prior to this, they had been through a very bloody and extended civil war. Just imagine if we had that set of circumstances in modern New Zealand. Of course, New Zealand isn’t without it’s social and economic issues, but everybody over the age of 18 has the right to vote, and we haven’t been through a recent civil war. NZ is a safe, clean and prosperous country.

Another learning was that plastic is just the worst. I mean, everybody already knows this but in NZ we’re all taught to throw your rubbish in the bin. In Nepal and India, plastic is everywhere. London is similar as well actually – the only difference is that it’s in plastic bags on the footpath every morning rather than overloading the river. Another reason to be grateful to be from New Zealand. Also, environmental plug here, try to use less single use plastics.

Depending on where you travel to and how long you travel for, you become desensitised to hardship and poverty. You’re told by the locals “don’t give the beggars money, they don’t actually need it/they use it to buy drugs/they pay the group leader with it…” All of these things may or may not be true, but in the beginning, you still have some sympathy so you give ten or twenty rupees. After a few weeks, that sympathy is gone. You walk by without giving that person a second look because you know that if you do, you’ll be approached by 10 others. This isn’t just in Nepal and India, it applies to London and New Zealand also.  

There were also lots of little learnings along the way; Kiwis and Aussies are always good for a chat; Delhi belly doesn’t happen just in Delhi; Indian men LOVE Brendan McCullum; owning only four t-shirts isn’t the worst thing…

Without a doubt, my biggest learning was that things will be ok if you take a chance and do something different. For example, it is scary to pack up and go without knowing where you’re going to end up. As long as you’re open to new experiences, things will be ok. We met so many people that have decided working online and travelling is the life they want to lead. Why can’t we do that? The possibilities are endless and it’s seems a shame not to make the most of this one short life we have.

Obviously, I have to caveat everything I’ve said. Moving to the UK only worked because Boy and I wanted to travel and move abroad; it’s something we talked about for years. Some don’t want to pack up and leave, and that’s ok. Some people couldn’t imagine living anywhere except New Zealand and, after moving away, I can see why. Others mightn’t have the opportunities that allow them to travel elsewhere, and that’s ok as well.

Everything I’ve said in this post relates to my experiences only. Some were happy, some were heartbreaking, but all of them happened for the better because I’m a different person now to who I was nine months ago. I’ll probably be a different person in another nine months as well.

I’m excited about what the future holds – I see more travel, more yoga, more new cities and more experiences.

The next blog post is going back to Nepal, to recount the Annapurna Circuit! I think I'll have to break it into two or three parts again...

Bye for now,

Kat.