I travel alone most of the time. Being alone gives me the space to discover things at my own speed. It gives me the freedom to do what I want. Don’t get me wrong, I also travel with other people but the experiences would not be the same. I find everything more intense when I am alone on the road.
Me taking photos in Jerusalem, 2014.
I buy a book (mostly a novel in English) whenever I am in another country. This allows me to roam endlessly in different bookstores to enjoy the atmosphere and to see what kind of books local people read. Last purchase was in St. Louis, USA, January 2015: Best American Short Stories 2014. Quite a good read.
I send postcards to my family, friends and myself. In most cases I send them just before I have to leave because I want to recapitulate and summarize everything in a few sentences.
My parents’ fridge with some of the postcards sent by me and my sister when we are on the road.
I learn the basics of the language spoken in the country that I visit: this gives me the chance to talk to locals. One of the best parts of an adventure in another country! Tip: YouTube is a very good source.
I take a picture of an apple with the visited place in the background: it gives me the feeling that NYC is always with me wherever I go.
Big apple with Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco 2013.
I don’t have a plan when I travel: having plans will not allow me to enjoy randomness which I love every much. In fact, it’s randomness that makes a journey more interesting.
Why sticking to a plan when you can roam aimlessly? Like this stray dog in Addis Ababa, 2013.
I walk most of the time: walking is the best way for me to discover a foreign place. Period.
Just me and the road. Well, almost. Kyoto, 2010.
What about you, fellow travelers? Any special behaviours when you are on the road?
I hope life has been treating you well. Okay, probably not because you are in high school now and I know you are going through a hard time because you are still in that small town in East Germany. I know you hate it. I know some of your classmates are using you and you let them use you because you just want to fit in. I know some of them are making fun of you just because you are different. I know you are a little bit lost.
I just met a girl. She was like you. A loner. She reminds me of you. I know you can’t hear me now and I know I can’t help you because you can’t read the lines that I am writing right now. But I hope they might help other boys and girls who are going through the same thing. I know it’s easier said than done but you gotta do your best. Promise me you will.
Don’t let other people’s voices drown out your own. Especially your Asian parents’ voices. You know they care about you but their thinking is from the past. If you like languages and want to study American literature, then do it. Your parents might think it’s rubbish but you can prove them wrong. I know it’s hard to do this but you have to stay strong and have faith in what you do. Find your own path. I repeat: Find.Your.Own. Path.
Be proud of yourself. Don’t hide who you are. You are you and you are awesome. If you like reading books (mangas are books too!) all of the time, then do it. Don’t be afraid of other people’s reaction. If you like getting good marks just because you are ambitious and just want to fulfill your dreams while your classmates just want to get drunk and do ‘fun’ stuff, then do it. Seriously, you might have noticed that some of your classmates are just a bunch of losers. They are not worth your attention.
Dream lots of dreams and have the courage to fulfill your dreams. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can and can’t do. Never. Period.
That’s a lot, huh? Hey, I know you are gonna have some doubts. Oh you will be so doubtful and insecure so many times in your life. For example, when you think that you are not good enough for that scholarship. Or when you just end your non relationship -relationship because, well, it is too early and too late at the same time. Or when you apply for jobs and don’t get invited to interviews. Or when your friends start getting married and having kids. But in the end it’s your happiness and you have to define it yourself. I’m sure you will make it because I wouldn’t have been the person I’m today if you hadn’t made it. You have done a good job of loving me and embracing all my rough edges.
Keep swimming, will ya?
PS. I’m in Berlin now, thinking about my next trip to the US and Canada with two of my bunnies ( it’s not what you think!). I did get that scholarship that you are thinking about. I have been to a lot of other countries, went to graduate school in funf**kingtastic NYC* (Oh don’t get me started why it’s awesome!), worked in Tokyo (awesome!) and Indonesia (awesome!). I am now planning my next move (pssst). Of course it is not always a bed of roses but I can safely say that I am leading a happy and privileged life. Thanks for believing in me.
* Yes, I know you want Ireland because your love for Oscar Wilde but somehow it turns out to be NYC!
Over the course of time I have found a few places in the world where I can find my peace of mind and let go of whatever is bothering me. I’m sure everybody has some places like that in their heart. Here are some photos that illustrate my happy places; they are much more beautiful in real life though! Seriously.
Taking a stroll in Köllnischer Park, visiting the bears in the Bärenzwinger (Berlin, Germany)