I know why they call it 'the travelling bug'. I've studied enough Intro to Psychology to know that different personality types can be more prone to addiction than others. I do not have an addictive personality. I can smoke nargile (Turkish smoke pipe) and not crave it again. I don't feel any desire to drink often more than socially. I don't rely on any painkillers other than ibuprofen (for those morning afters when my social drinking has gotten the best of me). I do not have an addictive personality whatsoever...with perhaps one exception. Travelling.
I get a high like no other when I'm planning a trip. I can be a research demon, scouring the internet for information about places, historical sites, hotels and my personal favourite: flights. I get more excitement looking at flights than what most people would get when they win at Bingo. When I know I have vacation time coming up, I love going to http://www.skyscanner.com/ and typing in my vacation dates, and choosing 'Everywhere' from the list of country options. This beautiful little tool brings up all the countries you can fly to and lists them in order of ascending price. A $90 flight to Germany, don't mind if I do! A £120 flight to Athens, why not? (This brings me to my other freaky obsession, which is converting currencies. I'm your most annoying shopping companion, because I'll mentally convert the price of whatever it is your looking at into one of the following currencies: Turkish Lira, Great British Pounds, Euro, and both American and Canadian Dollars...seriously, 'If you convert it to pounds....it's a great deal!').
When I do get to my desired vacation, I'll spend a while soaking up the glory that is my different surroundings and then, it begins. The travelling addiction. Tugging on my clothes like a first grade student who is telling me that they finished their work. Niggling little thoughts begin to appear in my brain. 'Where should I go next?', 'Where have I not been to yet?', 'I hear the weather is nice in Syria this time of year...', 'I haven't had real Italian food in 6 months now...it really is time to go back to Italy...', 'When I get to an airport, I really must do some duty-free shopping...' Try as I might to ignore these thoughts and be satisfied with the place I just barely got to, I go into a near panic when I get near a computer. I've been known to search Skyscanner, EasyJet and Ryan Air while on vacation, to plan for the next vacation. Lately, I've been more successful in suppressing these urges, and waiting until I get home to let the Googling begin.
It dawned on me tonight, while talking to my ever-patient mother about my flighty ideas of where I want to live and travel to next that my addiction could be spreading to where I live as well. I'm the exemplary 'grass is greener' girl. I'll be living somewhere cool, but thinking about living somewhere even better. Working in a nice place, but thinking about working somewhere even nicer. I do feel that it is my privilege, nay, responsibility as a person who is living abroad to live in the raddest place possible. I mean, that is why we leave our own countries, right. If you're going to leave your home town, it's because you want to experience something different, something better. It occurred to me last week that if you're going to leave your hometown, you should be living in what you deem as the coolest place possible. Have a think about that. Many dinner conversation games include the question 'If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?' But how many people can say that their answer to this question is actually reality? I can. I asked myself this very question last week and I came up with this: a tropical island. So, at this very moment, I'm doing everything I can to get myself to a tropical island, in probably the Caribbean.
I have made the decision to abandon the comforts of home, family, friends and familiarity with a place in favour of relocating to a place completely different. A place where getting the comforts of home is expensive, if not difficult. A place where a different language is spoken, a different religion is practised and different cultural beliefs are observed. I shared this thought with Eilidh over our New Year's Eve dinner. Think of what you're giving up. Think of what you're getting into, when you move willingly to a foreign country. And then think, who pray tell, does that under their own free will? There are two types of people, actually. The first group of people are those who are rejects of their own society, and the second group are people who are most probably the raddest people you will ever meet. These people get high off the challenge of making it somewhere new. These people enjoy living in a place where buying milk is exciting, because it's now a challenge. Can you ever imagine that buying milk could be exciting? That's why people do it.
One of my students asked me why I like to travel so much. I told her that, by travelling, I get to do exciting things every day. I get to do things here in Turkey that I never would have done in Canada (making kısır, going to a hamam and participating in a korban sacrifice, to mention a few) and I wouldn't give up those experiences for anything.