Interestingly, I have not found an English equivalent to this. It goes something like “Resting is for being able to walk an even longer journey“. This is where I am right now.. Coming back to Singapore (which is my base) from 8 months in Germany/Switzerland and having some time to rest, both mentally and physically.
This break feels a bit different. It is has been 2.5 years since I started the current job. This seems like a period after which someone can do some reflection, hence Interlude.
My job requires me to change the city I live in every 2 to 8 months. This basically defines the most part of my life right now. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. It is good because I like to travel, because I am used to the cultures I travel to, I am used to get used to things. It is good because the job is challenging, never boring, and always growing in opportunities. It is bad because it is extremely hard to put down roots. It is bad because decisions are being postponed due to missing roots, because it is hard to maintain relationships, because it is exhausting both for the mind and the body.
The following are some thoughts which came up in this break and serve as reminders to myself. Some things are serious, some are less serious, but all is true 🙂
Anchoring is important
(Not to be confused with the cognitive bias of anchoring) Sometimes you get lost while traveling. Having a mental anchor is the most important thing keeping you sane on the big and small adventures you have during these travels. Heck, you should always have a mental anchor which you can refer to, whether you are traveling or not. Do not confuse this with a goal – a goal can be part of an anchor, just like persons can be part of it as well. Anchoring in this sense is an exercise for clear a understanding of yourself, of why you are on your travels and of how much you have changed throughout your travels.
Do not become afraid of making new friends
I mentioned that it can be pretty exhausting, both mentally and physically. The physical part should be straightforward to counter: It just needs even stronger discipline than usual to eat healthy and exercise regularly when you are constantly on the road, always staying in hotels, mostly eating out in restaurants instead of cooking yourself.
The mind part is a bit more tricky: One of the most exciting parts of travelling is getting to know new people in new places. In the cases in which I stayed longer than 3 months in the same place, the additional joy of slowly forming a group or groups of friends in the new place is added on top of the excitement. But (yes of course there is a but) the moment you feel that “wow that’s so great to have good friends here”, you are immediately reminded that “oh no, soon I am moving somewhere else again”. This feeling makes you being stuck somewhere between really integrating into the social circles and protecting yourself and others from getting too involved. Because the more you get involved, the harder it is to leave. And when you have left, you will definitely lose some of the connections. Well ok maybe other people manage not to lose connections, so I am just speaking for myself.. since the age of 4 I have been moving every few years, and if I am honest, I am not great at keeping close contact. Thank god there is whatsapp, Line, FB etc. nowadays. I remember my friends from Hamburg writing letters to Taipei in 1996, I think I did not answer any of those (sorry guys next beer goes on me when I am in HH next time!).
Nevertheless, never stop making new friends. Never become afraid of making new friends just because it is tough to lose some of them. For some time I got tired of losing friends so I stopped making friends in a new place. Needless to say, it sent me down a vicious cycle of negativity which luckily I liked even less.
Train travel habits
There are a few key things which help you being less stressed and be more efficient in travels..
1. Packing fast: I remember getting annoyed every Sunday when I had to pack for the travel on early Monday morning. Just like brushing your teeth every morning and before going to sleep – packing is not a special activity, it is your weekly reocurring activity which you can do with your eyes closed. This definitely has become a simple habit by now.
2. Always book the aisle seat in an airplane and board as soon as possible first: Because you don’t want to lose valuable minutes just cause someone doesn’t manage to get his luggage down from the overhead bin. You also do not want to put your luggage under the seat (and lose legroom German), and definitely not want to put it meters away from your seat…omg the horror when you have to wait until everyone has left the airplane and only then you can get your luggage!!
3. Always check out of your hotel room (meaning paying) the night before you leave. Saves so much time in the morning. Instead of queuing in the cruel checkout line of hell, choose a breakfast table with view on the reception and mock the people looking at their watch every 15 seconds while sipping on your victourious smelling coffee.
4. Dual Sim Phone. Must have.
5. Obtain a spare phone. In case your mobile phone gets run over by car in Berlin. Or you fall on it while jogging in Zurich. Or you lose it in a cab at 3am in Vienna.
Write a diary
I am not doing this yet. I will start today. Seriously there have been so many great moments and conversations throughout these 2.5 years, need to start writing them down, my stupid brain is forgetting them.
Uff..writing this post has been a long process, and it surely helped me to think about a lot of stuff of the last 2.5 years, good for me 😛 It took more than a week, some fever aided essay writing and (a lot of) deletion. Well, this has been a helpful interlude, resting time is up anyway, now onto the next stations! (With hopefully more updates on this blog..)