Saturday, 30 November 2013

The travel chronicles ✈ - the people

Imens jeg prøver at komme over mit omvendte (og desværre stadigt eksisterende) kulturchok efter mit relativt korte USA-eventyr, har jeg tænkt meget over følgevirkningerne af turen og hvordan den har påvirket mig. Nej, faktisk over effekterne af alle mine ture. Mine eventyr, som jeg ynder at kalde dem i daglig tale. Godt nok har det ikke altid indebåret regnbuer og candyfloss-farvede græsmarker,  men det har været mindeværdigt. Selv alle de katastrofale og ulykkelige øjebikke. Up's and down's. Og det er vel det, det hele handler om, ikke sandt? Og nu, nu skal det handle om det at rejse. Jeg vil jo så gerne have en rejseblog og det nytter jo ikke noget, at jeg kun skriver, når jeg er on the road. Refleksionerne hører vel også med, og eftersom jeg er i Danmark, er der jo ikke mange eventyr at rapportere om i skrivende stund. Så jeg vil bruge tiden på at reflektere lidt over det at rejse.

Folk har ofte spurgt mig om, hvorfor jeg godt kan lide at rejse. Især mine gamle klassekammerater fra min gymnasieklasse, der blandt andet ikke kunne forstå at jeg gad tage en måned til Spanien for at lave noget "så kedeligt som at studere spansk". Og jeg har længe ikke vidst, hvad mit svar burde være. Jeg kan godt lide at se ting, jeg aldrig har set før. Den første gang, man ser et berømt vartegn, for at nævne et eksempel. Jeg glemmer i hvert fald aldrig det øjeblik, hvor jeg, totalt overgearet og lykkelig, så Big Ben for første gang i horisonten med mine nye venner på sprogrejsen til England. Jeg glemmer i hvert fald heller aldrig den ubeskrivelige følelse jeg fik, da jeg stod ud af bussen på Times Square omgivet af 120 andre ekstatiske piger fra alle afkroge af verden. Men det bedste ved at rejse? Mennesker. Forskellighed. Mangfoldighed. Det bedste ved at rejse er alle de mennesker, man møder på sin vej. Sådan er det i hvert fald for mig. Jeg fanger tit mig selv i at tænke 'hvordan har jeg været så heldig at få lov til at blive beriget med dette menneskes selskab?' Jeg har også tit tænkt 'åh gud, hvad skal jeg gøre for at slippe af med hende her?' Man må jo tage det sure med det søde.

Om det var den ekstremt stereotypiske russiske pige, hvis selvlærte engelsk klart overtrumfede mit og alle de andre studerendes, om det var den israelske fyr, hvis skriftsprog decideret lignede volapyk for os andre, om det var den pige, der, da jeg mødte hende i Skotland, ikke kunne svare på spørgsmålet om, hvor hun kom fra, da hun ikke vidste, hvad hun skulle kalde for hjem, eftersom hendes forældre ejede huse i Los Angeles, Christchurch og London, om det var den fremmede mand i Texas, jeg endte med at støde tilfældigt på to gange og som, på trods af ikke at kende mig, alligevel satte sig ned og tog sig tid til at snakke med mig om det at være væk hjemmefra.
Det er næsten underordnet. Det fascinerende ved at møde nye og anderledes mennesker er deres historie. Hvem de er, hvor de kommer fra, hvem de gerne vil være og hvor de skal hen. Og hvorfor de er her. Der er altid dem, der overrasker mig; dem der ikke passer ind i den kasse, man på forhånd har placeret dem i og man derfor er tvunget til at kasserere de fordomme, man havde om dem. Der er dem, der, når jeg har sagt farvel til dem, har efterladt mig med en tom og opgivende følelse - det værste ved at knytte sig til folk, som man har eventuelt kun har kendt i et par dage, det er tanken om at man ikke har en jordisk chance for at vide, om man nogensinde ser dem igen eller om man overhovedet kommer til at holde kontakten. Heldigvis træder den følelse for det meste i baggrunden og bliver erstattet af en anden; følelsen man får, når man opdager at man lige har fået en ven for livet - oftest på den allermest tilfældige måde. Venner, som du ved altid vil være der for dig, selvom afstanden mellem jer er enorm. Derfor er det min yndlingsting ved at rejse. Venskaberne, historierne og de lange samtaler til langt ud på natten med mennesker, du ikke kender.. men alligevel aldrig har lyst til at forlade igen.

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While I'm still trying to deal with my reverse culture shock, I've had a lot of time on my hands to think and reflect on the thoughts and the speculations that my stay in Texas has undoubtedly left me with. Which made me reflect on all of my adventures. Because that's what they've been. Adventures. Not exactly the kind of candy floss pink fairytales with unicorns at the end of the rainbow, but adventures. Journeys. They have all been memorable, even the many moments of sadness, giving up and just plain out irrationality. The up's and down's. It all counts. And really, that's what it's all about, isn't it? That's what this is gonna be about. Travelling. Afterall, I do claim this to be a travel blog, so why not use my travels as an inspiration, even when I'm not on the road? All the aftermath is just as much a part of it as the physical journey itself. The reflections are a part of it and since I'm currently back in Denmark, those delightful travel-related experiences are out of the picture. So for now I'll spend the time reflecting on the thing that is to travel. 

I've often had people asking me why I like travelling so much. Especially my old high school classmates. Some of them simply couldn't comprehend why I bothered living in Spain for a month for something as boring as that of studying Spanish. For a long time I didn't know the answer. I still don't. Sometimes I ask myself the same questions. Then I think back and remember all the feelings, the people, the adrenaline. Suddenly, I don't remember why I ever had any doubts. I like seeing things for the first time. The first time you see a famous landmark, for instance. One thing is for sure, I'll never ever forget the first time I saw Big Ben. I was with my new friends and my international class and we had anticipated the moment for what felt like years. It was breathtaking. I'm also positive I'll never forget the moment I stepped out of the bus at Times Square at nighttime. But my favorite part of it all? People. Diversity. Multiplicity. The best part of travelling is all the people you'll meet. Sometimes I catch myself thinking 'how on earth have I deserved to be blessed with the company of this person?' Other times, I catch myself thinking 'oh dear god, how am I gonna get rid of this person?' No light without darkness.


Whether it was the extremely stereotypical Russian girl, whose self-taught English without a doubt made the rest of us feel utterly inferior, the Israeli guy whose written language literally looked like nonsense to me, the girl, who, when I met her in Scotland, couldn't quite provide me with an answer to my question of where's she's from, as her parents own houses in Los Angeles, Christchurch and London or whether it was the stranger in Texas I accidentally ran into twice, who, despite not knowing me, still took the time to sit down with me to discuss the subject of being away from home.

It doesn't matter. The fascinating thing about meeting new people is their story. Everybody's got a story. As it turned out, the stranger in Texas was in fact not Texan; he was from Wisconsin and even though he hadn't even left American soil, he agreed that Texas does feel like a different planet. We all have a story. I did too. He felt drawn to ask me about mine because I was on Skype speaking a language he could make no sense of. Our story. Who we are. Where we're from. Who we want to be and where we're going. And most importantly of all, why we're here. There are always people who manages to surprise me: they're the ones that doesn't fit into the box you've already put them in even before they've opened their mouth and you therefore have to dispose of all your prejudice. There are the ones, who, right after I've said goodbye to them, have left me with an empty feeling - the worst thing about bonding with people you have possibly just known for a few days is not knowing when you'll see them again. Or if you'll ever see them again. Fortunately, that feeling tends to fade and turn into another; the feeling you have when you realize that you've possibly just gained a friend for life. Usually in the most random way possible. A friend you know will always be there for you even though the distance between you is four-digit number. That is why it's my favorite thing about travelling. The friendships, the stories and those hour long conversations in the middle of the night with people you're only just getting to know but somehow never feel like you want to leave.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

When words aren't enough - a closure

Downtown Houston - Houston is in a certain way a bit like life: complicated, immense and it confuses you way more than it should - but you can't help but loving it 

Den tid, jeg nåede at få i Texas, var på ingen måde spildt. Ja, det skulle have varet 365 dage - men sådan gik det ikke og måske er det ikke så slemt. Det blev til 70 dage i USA i alt - selvom det er slut, vil minderne, venskaberne og kærligheden altid være gemt dybt i mit hjerte. Lige fra dag 1 af blev jeg taget ekstremt godt imod af så mange forskellige og fantastiske mennesker. Jeg har fået venner for livet, jeg har lært mere om venskab, kærlighed og familie end jeg har gjort gennem hele mit liv og jeg har fået åbnet øjnene overfor hvad medmenneskelighed egentlig er og hvad det i sin simpleste forstand kan have af betydning for et menneske.
Før jeg tog afsted, havde jeg en forestilling om, hvad jeg ville komme til at opleve og hvilke mennesker jeg ville møde og ende op med at blive venner med - jeg tog fejl - jeg mødte mennesker der tvang mig til at tage livet op til revision og som fik mig til at kigge alvorligt på mig selv. Jeg lærte hvad det vil sige at være en familie. Jeg har set og mærket hvordan mennesker kan forandre dit liv.. uden overhovedet selv at vide det. Jeg har lært at man, på trods af sprogbarrierer, kan forstå hinanden perfekt bare ved at se hinanden i øjnene. Mit ophold har givet mig langt mere, end jeg havde turdet håbe på. Det var svært at afbryde det, men det var det rigtige. Det kan jeg mærke nu. Og hvorfor skulle jeg så absolut hjem, er der mange der har spurgt mig om. Det eneste svar, jeg selv synes dækker ordentligt, er et meget simpel et, dog nok ikke et, der vil synes dækkende - men det er det, jeg føler mest for at give: ..it just wasn't meant to be.
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My Texas adventure wasn't supposed to end until August next year, but life had other things in store for me. I left Texas on October 21st, on my birthday and it was horrible to say goodbye - the reasons for why I left are numerous, but maybe I should just say it the way I feel it - it wasn't the right thing for me and maybe leaving doesn't mean ending, but beginning. A chance for me to go somewhere else and explore. I can never thank Texas enough for everything I've learned, seen and experienced during those 70 days. I have gained friends for life, I have memories enough to last a lifetime and I have a family, I have people I can count on for the rest of my life. You can't put a price tag on that. I left, yes, but I didn't loose. I won. I gained everything. A new life, a new love, a new world, a new family and the most important of all - a brand new perspectice that changed me and the way I see the world. I owe Texas everything. It helped me understand that life is bigger than I imagined and that I'll never fully understand the wonders in this world. For the first time, my words aren't enough to describe what I'm feeling - maybe just that sole fact is enough to describe what this has been for me.
I met people who had no obligation to treat me as family and yet, they did - I met people who has lead the toughest of lives and yet they had the love in their heart to make me feel at home and make me feel welcome. I met people who made me take a step back and look at myself, my dreams and the way I deal with things. I met people with whom I spend hours discussing life - I realized that the topic of how you really wanna live your life is the most important of all and not something to take for granted. I won't do that from now on. Texas, you've been good to me.