“We’re planning to move abroad”.
“What?! Why? When?” – here we go again. Every time I tell a friend or an acquaintance that my boyfriend and I are planning to get an RV and travel coast to coast in the US and Canada for a year or two I get bombarded with a ton of questions. Maneuvering these questions for the past few months taught me a lot about my, apparently, unique approach to life.
A little bit of backstory before we get into the questions: my partner and I live together in Israel. He’s an avid traveler, has been to almost every continent, and traveled alone for a long time after his military service. I, on the other hand, have been to a number of countries that I can count on one hand. Despite traveling frequently, I almost exclusively travel to visit my family – my parents in the US and my grandparents in Ukraine (or at least I visited them before the war with Russia began).
I consider myself a homebody – even when visiting family that I feel comfortable around, I usually can’t wait to get home after two weeks away. It’s not about being in a specific geographical place – it’s more about being in the place that I defined as a home for myself. Still, I am very curious about other countries and cultures and would like to visit quite a few. So, what do you do when you want to travel but hate being away from home? You take inspiration from snails and bring your home with you.
Technically, this category is more about unsolicited advice on matters that are not travel-related. It always starts with a leading question, something to the tone of “But how would you finance this trip?”, or “What if you decide that you want kids while traveling?”. Often, more personal questions follow, especially if I try to be open and candid about my intentions. Asking such questions is a very Israeli trait, yet even after living 20 years here I’m still not used to the collective prying.
My blanket response to this is “I will figure this out”. This is also the first part of my unique view of the world.
I truly believe that everything (and I do mean everything) is figure-outable. Of course, this doesn’t mean I rush into something like a worldwide trip with zero preparation – but I definitely don’t worry about it too much. If I am planning something in detail, it’s more out of excitement than actual readiness. I trust my brain, my gut, and my common sense to not get me too deep into trouble – and up until now this approach is yet to fail me.
Not to mention that we all literally have unlimited knowledge in our pockets. I think the most “panicky” thing I might do is purchase an unlimited international mobile data pack – and even this strikes me as unnecessary since there are ways to get WiFi anywhere now.
I once asked a random girl after a concert to let me use her hotspot to call the person who was supposed to pick me up. She agreed, and ended up saving me the hassle (and money) of catching a taxi to the hotel in the middle of the night. Getting help from people is a big part of this, and I think it’s a big part of my personality, too – I trust people. Not blindly, but I tend to assume the best until proven otherwise.
Next category – the questions people ask that are actually just prettier ways to say, “I would never do this”. They range from hilarious to obtuse, with some magnificently combining both qualities. The winner in that last category has got to be “How will you survive being so far from your family?”.
For context – as a toddler, I spent most of my time with grandma while my parents went to university. Then, we moved abroad – all of a sudden I only see grandma once a year for summer break, instead of practically living with her. In 2015, during my military service, I told my parents to take up on an offer my father had received and relocate to the US with my siblings, without me. I haven’t been physically close to my family in years – but I think our bond is stronger than most families I know.
I believe this is my second unique vantage point on life – I feel that change and exploration are in my nature. Ironically, I used to consider myself to be a person that hates change. Even now, despite the excitement, I feel extremely uncomfortable with the amount of changes I’ll have to introduce into my life to make it work. But being uncomfortable is an important part of personal growth, and the ability to change grants the ultimate freedom of being whatever you want to be. In retrospect, I have always (consciously or unconsciously) put myself on the path of change and uncertainty. Perhaps because the long term benefits and growth were always worth the temporary discomfort.
Moving abroad is a trivial stage in life for me – the only questions are when and where to. I was always amazed to meet people in their 30’s and 40’s still living in the same city they were born in – while they are usually amazed that I moved so many times at my young age.
The Curious Georges
This last category has to be my favorite – these are questions that are interesting to discuss and usually come with genuine interest in my plans and wishes. Questions such as “Where do you want to go?” and “What would you like to try?” are in this category.
Not only are the questions nice, but people also usually really want to share their experiences and recommendations – which I highly appreciate. From the best onsens in Japan, to hidden cocktail bars in New York, to how not to get ripped off by taxi drivers in Mexico – everything goes into my treasured travel advice folder.
Questions Lead to Change
In the end, I enjoy answering all the questions I’m asked on this topic. From some, I learn something new. For others, I sometimes get to put a dent in people’s limiting beliefs – like having to have everything planned and figured out, having to settle in sooner rather than later, and having to be physically close with people to have a tight bond with them. I’m in an ongoing process of breaking these beliefs for myself, and I’m happy to take anyone and everyone on this journey with me.
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