Being Abroad for Two Months Acted as a Huge Eye-Opener

Auriane Alix
Revealing the essential things to your soul.
Photo by Tommy Lisbin on Unsplash

I feel grateful. I feel blessed. I am deeply happy to have made this dream a reality. I’m a full-time writer and traveler, and when I sit on the beach or walk down the street in my temporary host cities, I’m amazed at what my life looks like right now.

Being alone abroad gives me a lot of time to think. And to be honest, I oscillate between ecstasy and slightly more challenging moments. I know that when I’ll get on the plane back home in June, I won’t be sad. Nostalgic, probably. A little shaken that this great adventure is over. But I will be happy to return to some things that I’ve discovered are even more important than I thought.

Sometimes, the simple fact of shaking your life energetically brings deep insights.

Being abroad for now 2 months has brought to light some things that make me look at my future in a different and much clearer way than before. I have grown more in 2 months than I have in 2 years.

I flew abroad without a return ticket

I was very young when I left my parents’ home to go study in Paris. 16 years old. I’m glad I did it. It allowed me to fly with my own rainbow wings, build up a strong sense of self-confidence, and learn about life at full speed. Looking back, I think I did pretty well. I remember shedding some tears as I waved goodbye to my family on the train platform, but as soon as I stepped back into my world in Paris, I was back on track.

Being away from my hometown and my family for 6 years made me independent. But when I graduated, having recently broken up with one of the people I loved most in my life, there was nothing keeping me there.

I packed my bags and moved back to my beloved south of France, close to the beach, full of lavender and warm scents.

I spent a few pleasant months with my parents. And then I flew abroad without a return ticket. I’m not even halfway through, and it’s already been an incredible experience. One of the most powerful I’ve ever had in my life.

And most importantly, this adventure has highlighted what’s truly important in my life.

I miss the smells, the tastes, the places, the feelings

I don’t miss parties with my friends. I don’t miss shopping. I don’t miss my apartment. I don’t miss my big desktop screen, my wireless keyboard, or my car.

I miss the intangibles.

I miss the smell of my mother’s laundry. The inimitable taste of my grandmother’s cooking. That path I used to run on every day, with the rustle of its leaves, the dull, rocky sound of my footsteps on the ground, and the sight of that repetitive but so familiar environment.

Every day when I call home, I stay on the phone a little longer than necessary, and I feel a little empty when we hang up. Last week I talked with my grandmother and it did something to my heart when she told me that they miss me.

I miss cooking dinner with my dad, drinking beer and laughing, circling each other harmoniously, each busy with some aspect of the preparation, in a fluid ballet filled with the smells of cooking. I miss having dinner with my parents and my brother in front of a silly TV show, before spending the evening aligned on the couch, each of us immersed in our own world of reading or watching TV, but deeply connected anyway. I miss waking up on weekends and hearing my dad making coffee downstairs in the kitchen, walking down the stairs to join him before my mom comes to join us too. I miss going to my grandmother’s house once a week for lunch or visiting her after work to share some not-so-healthy snacks while chatting about anything and everything.

I already knew that I loved these moments. What I didn’t know was how important they were to me.

It’s all these little things that embody home, without being “home” themselves. They are the essence of it. They all add up and help create the environment, the atmosphere where I feel at peace. At home.

At the same time, I love my present

“Wherever you go, there you are” — Jon Kabat-Zinn

I deeply wanted to be where I am today. I am incredibly happy to be there. But it’s beautiful that, in contrast, being away from everything I know has slowly brought to light what is most important in my life. What is at the core of my heart.

This journey is not only geographical but deeply personal. It’s a journey to my deepest self, enhanced by being alone most of the time. It is a window of deep reflection.

But for now, I am constantly reminding myself to be in the moment. I sit in time and space. The plane ride home will come much sooner than I think, and I want to leave without any regrets. I’m not looking forward to it. I am only looking forward to every moment I am in.

And when I get home, I will appreciate a thousand times more what I have there, what I’ve missed, and what I have sometimes taken for granted.

I draw a universal lesson from this

I believe that wherever we go, whatever we do, we will miss something. That’s why it’s so important to be in the present. To focus on the positive things we have right now, and to look at the things we miss with kindness and love rather than sadness. Life is a constant flow. Soon, this moment we call present will be in the past, and we will miss it just like all these other things.

Here’s what my advice would be.

Shake up your daily routine. No matter how you do it. Turning it upside down will bring out things you never knew existed. This is the highway to getting to know yourself. You don’t even have to do anything. The answers appear on their own, often to questions you didn’t even know you had.

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