It has been a while! After 2 months living abroad, living in Brasil to be more precise, I have safely returned home, with a backpack full of dusty clothes and a mind full of fresh experiences.
From all sides, people ask me the incredibly difficult, though simple question: ‘How was it??’. To that I can only say ‘It was amazing’, something that exactly describes what it was and simultaneously cannot even touch on the real experience.
Because how can you explain that the first two weeks of your stay you daily experienced the urge to cry, because the people you met were (and still are) so amazing, doing such good work? How can one describe the smell of the air, the feeling of those hot, moist temperatures and the taste of freshly picked bananas? How can one truly get across what it feels like when you hear a loud bang, only seconds later realizing that you have probably just heard someone being shot? And how can give words to the poverty you have seen and the amount of street children you have met, making you bow down in humility, thanking something bigger than yourself for all that you have received in your life?
It was an experience to hold close to my heart and it is for sure impossible to forget, but even though I have learned so much, I feel at the same time that the real learning has yet to begin. In the end it is not what you learn and do when abroad, but it is what you do when you go back to your ‘normal’ life that will determine if your journey truly made a difference.
When you go back, it is so easy and so tempting to slip back into your well-known habits and patterns, looking back at your journey as beautiful memories to share and stories to tell. But maybe it is not what you left behind, but what is still in front of you that makes the real adventure. Transforming your old life into something more than it was, weaving in, developing and living out all your acquired insights and wisdom, transcending the boundaries you have experienced in the past: perhaps that is what is truly the experience of a lifetime!
With all my love,