Discovering My True Self While Traveling in Southeast Asia
There are always certain expectations that one has when traveling abroad; not only for herself and her plans, but also for the people she’ll meet and the memories she’ll have. Traveling in Southeast Asia, specifically during my trips to both Thailand and Cambodia this past January, I was with a phenomenal teaching organization called LanguageCorps, which enabled me to get certified in TESOL and gain English teaching experience abroad.
I got so much more out of this traveling experience than I had anticipated, and in completely different ways than I had expected. The memories that are most vivid in my mind are most definitely the ones where I experienced true and complete acceptance among a new group of fellow travelers and teachers. I learned what it means to accept people for who they are and what they bring to the table, and I certainly felt accepted by the group too.
I learned that although traveling by oneself is both invigorating and enlightening in its own way, it is often the people who you come across who you may have never crossed paths with in your life, that truly change you for the better and make your traveling experience what you remember it as in the future. This comes through a sense of knowing your true self and putting that person forth in your new relationships while traveling. It is interesting how often in travels you may feel tempted to be a “new” or “different” version of yourself and to start over with a new and unexpected crowd.
My biggest advice to other travelers is to take the time to truly get to know yourself, and to do so by spending some alone time on transportation to various locations. Then accept that person for who you are and where you have been. This includes accepting where you have come from and where you are going, in light of circumstances beyond your control. When you do this during your travels, the real, raw version of yourself comes alive when meeting new people, and the fear of rejection is overpowered by acceptance, and the growth of some of the deepest and most meaningful friendships that you will ever forge.
The freedom to grow in new ways in a new place, alongside new people from all walks of life is one of the best parts of traveling. I was able to experience this firsthand through LanguageCorps by being in a group of eight individuals from around the world, all of whom shared a yearning for discovery through teaching and traveling. In a short time, our group of initial strangers became inseparable, fitting together like a new pair of shoes!
Leaving each other after training was one of the hardest moments of my life. I truly advise you all to cherish the moments that you have with your newfound friends that you meet while traveling. Understand and recognize that there is no limit to whom you can meet, who you can become, and how far you can dive into meaningful and long-lasting friendships on the way to discovering the world and yourself.