For our wedding gift, my sister-in-law offered us a Travel map of the world. Every morning, when I open my eyes I see this travel map of the world, then I think to myself “What a beautiful place we live in”, “I am so lucky I have been to this place” or even “wow, I really need to visit this country, like really in the travel bucket right now” and a warm feeling of love invades all my body.
This is it, even when I am not in the move, my mind is looking to travel. To understand how travel has affected my life, I need to bring you back to my childhood.
I was born in Montpellier, a beautiful medieval city in the southwest of France close to the Mediterranean Sea. Montpellier is young city (more than 60,000 students) where sunny days are taken for granted and historic and modern architecture combined provides a particular “joie de vivre”.
1 out of 5.
Then at the age of 8 years old, one of the most powerful experience happened to me, my parents decided to move the whole family to Madagascar. I remember that I was so thrilled by this news even though the idea of moving was mixed with a bit of uncertainty. Madagascar meant to me nature, wild life, adventure and tropical vibes, definitely the unknown but the perspective of an unknown beautiful new life.
For the first time, I had to overcome the common issues related to travel such as learning to speak a different language (Malagasy) , getting used to a different food habits and re-creating a social eco-system..and so on.
People tend to say that children are highly adaptable to any environment and I would definitely agree on that. After 10 years living in Madagascar, not only I found myself speaking Malagasy and Spanish perfectly, eating spicy food on a daily basis and the unforgettable Ravitoto (the national Malagasy dish) but most importantly, I met incredible people and discovered a new culture, my precious roots.
Indeed, going back to my roots, was an experience that taught me a lot on myself and definitely revealed the potential that was lying within me. Nailed it! 2 out of 5.
Then, it was time to move back to France but this time, I landed in Fontainebleau, south suburb of Paris. Less crowded than the capital, this charming city is home to the majestic UNESCO World heritage site of Château de Fontainebleau, which I highly recommend to visit if you are in the region.
My day to day was split between studies, culture and gastronomy! It was a lot of fun but I still wanted to spice it up by moving to Cardiff, Wales for a 6 months Erasmus program. What an experience! This internship made me meet Irish, Germans, Austrians, Belgians, Spanish, Italians and other Erasmus students from all over Europe ; a melting pot of culture enjoying rugby games and beers together! Iechyd Da! 3 out of 5.
Even if all good things must come to an end, the “Cardiff experience” as I like to call it, confirmed that I was meant to live abroad and travel and it was only the beginning. As soon as I was back in France, my mind was obsessed about expatriation.
After several years of planning, my wish came true I was proudly packing my bags to Canada, Toronto. Falling in love with this country was instant, from a good hockey game to a fresh Tim Horton’s maple donut, I enjoyed every bit of the Canadian culture. 4 out of 5.
This leads me to the 5th and last country as of now, the green land of Ireland. I am sure you must be thinking how the hell I ended up in Dublin. Well during all my travels, I met a good fair amount of people but I never thought I would encounter “The One” in Dublin. I guess this is the famous luck of the Irish. Long story short, bitten by the travel bug again and I am now established in Dublin. 5 out of 5.
Living in 5 different countries might seem quite crazy for some of you, but to me travel shaped my life, gave me the desire to explore, to overcome my fear most of all, learning from others by opening my mind to other cultures, discovering the beauty of the world.
It is easy now to understand why I wake up every morning with a world map in front of me, I want to remember every day that life is full of adventures. I know the next country I want to visit but I do not know the people I will be meeting on the road nor the adventure my day will be filled of.
Making an instant connection with a total stranger, bonding the relationship with a family member or friend, watching a sunset, sailing on a catamaran, hiking a mountain, meeting a tribe in the jungle are experiences part of our travel and also memories for life.