November 7, 2013

The Expat diaries - Co-hosting with Postcards from Rachel

Today I am co-hosting the expat diaries with Rachel from Postcards from Rachel. When Rachel asked if I would like to host with her I though well sure why not, but then I was sitting here trying to write something expat worthy and couldn't think of anything. Life in this little town has been quiet lately. So I have chosen to share a story from my time travelling around Europe.

At the age of 22 I decided that I had had enough of my current life and needed a drastic change to lift me out of my funk. So what did I decide to do? Sell everything I owned and pack only what could fit in a backpack and book a one way ticket to Europe. Now some of you would say that doing this by yourself is crazy, and I somewhat agree. I don't think I fully thought through the whole travelling by myself thing. I had both good and bad experiences during my 1.5 yrs travelling around and enough memories to last me a lifetime.

The first thing I realized about backpacking through Europe, you are never actually by yourself. I met so many wonderful people in the hostels I stayed at and on the farms that I stayed as a volunteer. If you let yourself step out of your comfort zone, which you pretty much have to do in a foreign country anyways, you meet the most incredible people. A couple people I met while I was in Europe have become good friends of mine and I have met up with them in a few different places since then.

My co-workers in Farnham, England

By volunteering my time on farms I was able to really immerse myself in the every day living and culture of the places I was visiting. I woke up early and harvested figs for 6 hours a day. Lived in a house that had no electricity so you had to start a fire in a wood stove that warmed up your water to take a shower. Since we didn't have power there was no tv, instead we sat around the dinner table for hours talking about the places we came from and the places we still hoped to see. We hiked the trails surrounding the property and walked for an hour just to get to the beach. I became so accustomed to living this way that when I finally moved on it was weird to see people sitting around watching tv.

The Silva Riding Project crew (Corfu, Greece)

It was incredibly rewarding spending my days teaching young children how to ride the little ponies. Even though they didn't really speak English and I could only speak a few words of Greek, we somehow managed to communicate. Hand signals became the chosen form of communication. I enjoyed the most amazing food that was cooked every night by our host. Usually there was about 6 volunteers there at one time, most of us had the same days off every week, which meant walking in to the nearest town to explore and get lost for hours.

On the few days that I actually did feel home sick I would walk to the one starbucks that was on the Island and sit there chatting away to people on Facebook.

I guess what I am trying to say here is that sometimes choosing to travel by yourself actually turns out better then if you had planned to go with someone. I don't think I would have met so many amazing people and discover tons of great opportunities. Most likely I would have stuck by that other persons side and we would have just chosen to keep to ourselves.

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1. Postcards from Rachel (Host)  2. Lost in Travels (Host)  3. The Way I Wanderlust (Co-Host)  

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  1. wow! this is so amazing kayleigh! i had never fully heard your story before now but you've got my attention! i think it's great that you decided to do this, you learn so much when traveling. and you're right, even when my husband and i travel, we're always meeting new people that join us for a bit along the way. it's the fun of traveling : )

    1. Thanks Chelsea, I will be posting more about my travels through Europe in the next couple of months. So many beautiful pictures to share.

  2. traveling alone can be so much more challenging and rewarding than traveling with a friend! I bet that not having the TV made all the difference too :)

  3. What an interesting post. This was such an exciting adventure and you will have these memories for ever. I spent a year in France several years ago and often think about how much I packed into that year.

  4. Wow that's a bold step you took at 22.
    At 22, I was still struggling to finish college and was totally uncertain of the world I was to step in.
    I look forward to hearing rest of your travel stories. It's so inspiring.

    I've been reading you blog for quite a while now. I loved your 100 things series and I started my own and just ended it a week ago. :)

    Thank you so much for the inspiration!

    1. Thats great that you decided to do that yourself. It really made me realize I have a ton of little things to be grateful about.

  5. Sounds like you did a very similar thing to what I did (except I was already in Europe) and I have never looked back either :). There's a lot of ups and downs but they are totally worth it!

    Kate | Diaries of a Essex Girl

    1. Yes exactly. Of course I had some not so great moments but they are nothing compared to the amazing moments.

  6. I loved reading your story! So brave of you to move alone and volunteering on farms had to have been a great experience! Thanks for co-hosting with us. :)

  7. WOW Kayleigh - I wasn't familiar with your backstory and I am seriously ASTONISHED that at the age of twenty two you made this decision! You were so wise and strong beyond your years, and you're honestly such an inspiration!!


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