Lost in my hometown: How traveling changed me

“Now more than ever do I realize that I will never be content with a sedentary life, that I will always be haunted by thoughts of a sun-drenched elsewhere.”

-Isabelle Eberhardt

It sounds a little silly, but now that the Japan Diary is done, I feel a little bit lost, almost as if I have no purpose in life.

Before I went to Japan, I had no expectations for my trip, and certainly had no idea that I would love the country so much. I had been overseas a few times before going to Japan, but I never had the travel bug until going to Japan. People talked about the travel bug like it was a disease, like it had taken them over mind, body and soul. Several of my friends had the travel bug, and were constantly thinking of going on holidays, while I was content to stay in my little bubble, even after I had been to Europe.

After coming home from Japan, I felt perpetually dazed, as if I was walking around with my head in a fog. I would go places, with my head not in the game, and think ‘Where am I going?’ ‘What am I doing?’ I went through the motions, getting everything that I needed to do done, but with the minimum amount needed. I went to classes and did my work, doing just the bare minimum to pass. Not only that, but hobbies and interests I had previously loved, lost all meaning. All I can think or talk about is my experiences overseas, and am constantly thinking about the next place to travel to. I pretty much went travel crazy- in the 3 months after I came home, I booked my next three overseas flights. There wasn’t much thinking about it, there was just the feeling that I had to do whatever I could to get back overseas.

Traveling by myself, albeit for a short time, forced me to be more independent, to enjoy solitude, to be more confident and outgoing. Back in Sydney, I crave days by myself, and won’t hesitate to spend a day out alone.

In spite of becoming more independent, ironically, I crave the company of others. While traveling in Japan, I grew used to having the company of my close friends 24/7 and missed the constant chats we had all day every day, going to sleep together and waking up together, and never having to be alone. After coming home, it was a shock to be on my own again, to go to sleep alone and wake up alone was dull in comparison to always being together. I felt the need to see my friends on almost a daily basis, and feel lonely not being around people all the time.

I felt like a different person after coming home to Sydney- but sometimes, not in a good way. Although there is an upside to having the travel bug, there is also a downside. Since traveling to Japan, I can’t seem to concentrate on anything, and my mind is constantly wandering, jumping from one point to another. I feel restless on days staying home, and find that I have to go out constantly just to keep myself occupied.

Now I know what the travel bug feels like, I can say that it’s not all good- it’s a constant restlessness and feeling that I can’t stay in the same place anymore. The constant desire to get away is not always a good thing, especially when you let other parts of your life suffer. There’s also the strangeness of never feeling completely at home anymore- when I go to places I’ve been before, I’m amazed at things I never noticed before, despite having been there dozens of times, like I’m looking at everything through new eyes. I don’t feel like the person I was before I left, and for a long time, I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing.

It’s been almost 5 months since I came home from Japan, and I can safely say that I am over my post-holiday depression, but I still get twinges of it here and there- sometimes I’ll read something, or hear a song that reminds me of Japan. I’ve experienced both the good and bad parts of having the travel bug, but despite being over the post holiday blues, the urge to explore is something I think will stay with me for a long time.

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