Travitas has always advocated integrating travel as part of our lifestyle, but the general consensus is that this is easier said than done. In this two-part year-end special, we will explore travelling as a lifestyle from both the individual and global perspective. “Self-Realization” proposes some baby steps to begin integrating travel into your day-to-day life, while “Global Perspectives” features the voices of individuals who have either uprooted themselves to live overseas or have travelled widely.
Following our previous instalments on taking baby steps towards becoming a traveler in your own right and Singaporeans who have ventured overseas, here is our final feature – three vastly different stories of individuals who have lived in multiple countries.
Muses of a seasoned traveller
by Patrick Trisna
My name is Patrick, and I have a Quadru-continental education. Since leaving Singapore at the age of 18, I have studied in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom in the following 4 years. In between, I have had work experience in Hong Kong and Indonesia while volunteering briefly in Myanmar. These were good decisions.
Being an alien in a foreign land can be quite scary, but it is often some of the most memorable aspects of your life. To keep things short, I will humbly share three pieces of advice on how to enjoy your time living abroad. I hope it can be helpful.
- Be Proactive
- Friends won’t come to you; you have to go to friends. Being proactive may not be easy for some, but it’s worth a shot. After all, strangers are simply friends you have not met. They will remain strangers unless you start talking to them.
- A good question to ask after a brief (positive) encounter is, “Would you want to meet up for a meal sometime soon?” You will be surprised how often people would say, “Yes”; you will be even more surprised by how enjoyable a meal with a stranger can be.
- People of Similar Interest
- If you are in university, try to be as active as you can in various clubs and societies. I met some of my lifelong friends in these settings. As a Christian, the Church and other campus Christian clubs have always been my anchors of support regardless of where I go. My passion for public service also allowed me to meet like-minded people with a big heart. These are the places where the “Me too!” moment occurs more frequently.
Personally, the greatest difficulty is to leave the new place you suddenly called home. Leaving is never easy, but you can have comfort that another adventure awaits. At that time, you will be more experienced, and will be better equipped to enjoy the new alien land. Enjoy and treasure every moment abroad and appreciate every person you meet. Be sure to come back a better person.
Life as a visiting student at Oxford.
(Photo Credit: Own photo)
A student at the University of Melbourne, Patrick has lived in at least five countries across four different continents. Patrick is probably one of the craziest travelers we know, definitely living up to our vision of travelling as a lifestyle.
Away, yet not too far, from home
by Myra Goon
I moved to Singapore from Malaysia to be a free and independent (in all ways but financially) student when I was 20 and it was the best change in my life. I loved being able to do what I want without my parents watching over my shoulder and coming home anytime, plus Singapore and Malaysia are just a stone’s throw away so I could go home once every semester to enjoy some home-cooked food! The travelling back and forth has made me feel like a regular at Changi Airport and I feel a lot better about travelling alone to other countries now too!
I thought that Singapore would be so much like Malaysia that I wouldn’t see any differences but I spotted quite a few in my first couple of weeks. For example, cars actually stopped at zebra crossings and you could just cross, instead of it being the same as any other part of the road in Malaysia. Even the language was slightly different! I learned new Singlish phrases like “don’t anyhow sia” and “heck care la” from my Singaporean friends, which I didn’t really understand when I first got there. All in all, I’m loving Singapore and I can’t wait to go on exchange to explore another country all over again!
Swing life away
(Photo Credit: Own photo)
Hailing from Penang in Malaysia, Myra is currently an international student at the Singapore Management University. A popular student emcee, her bubbly character is bound to brighten up your day.
Creating memories while on exchange
by Raymond Angelo
I never intended to travel during exchange. I wanted to stay in my town, spend time in my university and just embrace life in a different place. Maybe join a CCA, if time would permit. But somehow, in the course of my exchange, I made it to over 30 cities. In the first four weeks of exchange alone, I spent more than half the time out of the country. What the hell happened?
I guess I caught the travel bug. When you have the time, the money, the means and not much else to occupy yourself with, you make plans.
And make plans, I did. I created a comprehensive excel sheet which helped me track of the dates I was available, the number of classes I’ve missed and the cities I’ve been to. I contacted friends and asked them when they were available and where they wanted to travel to. One time, I had over forty SkyScanner tabs open.
I’m typing this in an airport in Milan. I’m catching a flight to Cologne, and spending the night in the airport before finally flying to London. A life of travel is immensely exciting and unpredictable. What kind of food am I going to eat? What kind of people am I going to meet? What kind of sights will I be awestruck by?
Most importantly: What kind of memories will I make?
Now that I’m almost at the end of my exchange, I feel a weird sense of accomplishment at having covered so much ground. But there’s nothing really to be proud of, now that I think about it. Traveling can be like watching TV – only this time, you actually get to feel the place with your other senses.
As I count down to my inevitable return, I reflect on two questions: What did I learn? More importantly, what do I do next?
The answer to those two questions are related, in a way. Strangely enough, they’re not answers I found through the travels themselves, but through the state of traveling. What traveling has given me, on top of the memories, the friendship and the adventures (which I am truly thankful for), is a time to step back from my life in Singapore, and seriously contemplate what I wanted to do in the coming years. It also helped me realize fully what kind of person I am – when taken out of your environment, which aspects of me stayed the same?
To put it simply, I learned what I liked, what I didn’t like, and what I wanted to accomplish in this fleeting life of ours. As I’ve said earlier, the ‘likes’ are something you learn by being somewhere new. The things you want to accomplish, on the other hand, are the things can’t wait to do once you get back home.
They’re the plans you make as you wait for your plane to depart, as you walk the streets of an unknown city and as you sit in a cafe filled with strangers.
So what do I do next? Well, I’ve got my plans all laid out. All that’s left to do is to accomplish all of them, without exception.
Feeling blue in Cannes, France.
(Photo Credit: Own photo)
Raymond is a senior at the Singapore Management University, born in the Philippines and currently on exchange in Segovia, Spain.