Reflections On Two Years Abroad After CollegeYou Won’t Know Until You Go!
Skye Laudari from worldly.com reflects on his life-changing two years abroad after college. This article originally appeared in NomadHead magazine issue 12 – get your free copy now for a better reading experience.
One day I decided to take a leap.
With all the bravado of a recent college graduate, I casually made a decision that would impact the rest of my life.
At the time, of course, I didn’t know it.
But, isn’t it that our biggest lessons often come in retrospect?
Hardly the standard path for an honors student with one lonely passport stamp, but that was sort of the point.
All too often we know the path.
We see one step leading to the next in life.
For me, at a young age, it had been doing well in high school to get into a good college.
Excelling in college to attend a strong graduate program.
A graduate degree to climb the corporate ladder.
Eventually, all to earn enough money for a nice car, a budding family and a white picket fence.
The path is sometimes so well-trodden we take it to be the only option.
Then, a talk with a friend, a death in the family and a graduation all culminated in a new path.
One that included just a backpack and an open mind.
I had no idea what to expect upon arrival in New Zealand.
I knew no one where I was going.
I knew nothing of what I would find.
I expected I might travel for a few months, see some neat places and have some fun stories to tell.
But, then something funny happened.
As I opened up to the world, it opened to me in return.
Four continents, 23 countries and 624 days later my little expedition had circumnavigated the globe.
The subtle changes we see every day are difficult to identify.
When I look in the mirror, I look the same as yesterday.
Yet, when I add up all those yesterdays, I look different than I did 10 years ago. It’s not until we measure ourselves against a different scale that change becomes apparent.
Likewise, I could not express how I had changed with my travels until I returned to measure them against the familiarity of home.
I didn’t have a blog, not in the traditional sense we think of now — it was too difficult at the time.
Instead, I had an email list.
A handful of email addresses I took with me when I left, promising to send periodic updates on my whereabouts.
Over time, it became hundreds of emails, collected from new friends around the world — curious to know where I was and what I’d been doing.
To know of my experiences and to share theirs with me.
At the culmination of my trip, I sent one final email to that list. In it was a set of lessons I’d accumulated from my experiences.
They certainly changed me, and I hope maybe (just maybe) they can help others, possibly even inspire someone in their own journey.
So, what had I learned that caused my transformation?
A smile translates in any language.
It’s often not what you say, but how you say it.
It’s the very little things that mean a great deal, and the great big ones that often mean very little.
You’ll see the most when you’re looking for the least. To breathe.
To listen to myself.
To receive with gratitude, and to give without anticipation of repayment.
To let go – of expectations, and what I don’t want in my life.
To trust myself.
To take a chance.
That fear can be helpful, but being fearful never is.
When you ask for what you want you’ll be surprised how often you get it.
And, most importantly — You can create your world.
When I left, I was headed on a trip.
Yet, somewhere along the way it turned into life.
I can’t say for certain when it happened, but it must have been around the time, “So, what do you do?” became a difficult question to answer.
It is a chapter in my life that I will always take with me, no matter what path comes next. And, like any great journey, it’s one I could not have taken alone.
I’m grateful for those that helped me discover myself through successes, failures, follies and everything in between.
It means the world to know our experiences are joined together in some way.
So, here’s to your path and your journeys.
You are all you need to make it happen.
Celebrate your experiences.
Make your own path.
Do it consciously.
Do more… and let me know how it goes.
I bet you’ll be happy with what you find.
Are you graduating high school or college soon?
What are you planning to do?
What are you dreaming about doing?
Let us know in the comments!