Feeding Wanderlust

I have a theory regarding wanderlust. Once it’s in your life, it can only get worse. One day you wake up with this desire to see the world. Suddenly your hometown is too small, your bubble needs to be popped. No matter how happy you are wherever you are, be it at home, school, your summer house, you want to be elsewhere. Because elsewhere probably has more. And you can grow if you travel elsewhere.

At that moment, you are given two options. 1) Ignore the wanderlust and move on with your daily life, but you’ll always have that burning desire inside of you, a “what if…” to occupy every inch of your mind. And then there’s option 2) travel. The funny thing about option 2, though, is that once you start you can never stop. Suddenly, one city is no longer enough. Two cities isn’t even. You can take one trip a year and completely immerse yourself if a different culture for an entire week or two, but it doesn’t help the feeling in the pit of your stomach when you return home. The feeling of wanting more.

It makes me sound a bit greedy, I’m aware, but it’s a greed that I’m not ashamed of. Sure, I want the luxury of traveling around the world. But, really, I just want the luxury of obtaining more knowledge, of learning about new cultures, of getting to know more people, of helping enrich others throughout the world. I want to give as much to these cities I visit and the people I meet as they give to me. I never want to stop.

So here’s what happened, my story, the reason why this theory popped into my head this week. I left the United States for the first time when I was sixteen for a school trip to London. I visited the main sites–Tower of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Windsor Castle, etc. I said….”wow, these people are a lot like me, except they drink tea and have cooler titles.” I returned at age twenty, and this time the thought in my head was that, “I really like it here. I want to come back, but on a more permanent basis. I’m going to study abroad here.” However, when I returned home I realized that I didn’t want to wait the full year until I could study abroad. I wanted something more immediate, something different. So I applied to my summer in Dublin, the best summer I’ve had yet. And before my summer in Dublin, I went to Prague for a week, Munich for two days, Geneva for a day, Paris for a day, Edinburgh for two days. I saw the world, very different parts of the world. I experienced cities where the main language wasn’t English. I ate food I had never heard of. Yet, in each one of those cities, before I left, I could actually imagine myself living there.

When I was settled into Dublin and felt at home within a week of getting there, I sort of knew it was the end. I suddenly felt like I was meant to live elsewhere, to try new things. I no longer wanted to marry the next Wolf of Wall Street, but instead wanted to find a prince (okay…that was always a dream, but still). I realized that I more and more pictured myself walking the streets of a small town in Ireland, instead of the busy streets of DC or New York. I suddenly wanted to put law school on hold and get a job in Dublin. Maybe I was just living in that moment, but maybe it really was a turning point for me.

So here I am, studying abroad in London. I’m a few weeks in and I do feel at home, but I always feel at home, especially in a place that I’ve already visited. But here’s the funny thing. I’ve been to Edinburgh twice now, both times for only a few days. Both times, I said, “wow, I’m going to live here. Forget all of the other cities I want to live in. This is it.” And this time I think I really meant it. I returned from my short trip to Edinburgh and immediately researched MBA-like programs in Scotland. I told my friends that I would be moving there at some point and that they better visit me. I completely changed the “image” of my life (aka my daydreams). Once again, I suddenly saw myself walking down the streets of Edinburgh, wrapped in cashmere and sporting a variety of rain boots everyday of my life. The big cities that I always loved suddenly looked too big, and this small little old town was perfect. It felt like a city, yes, but it looked like history.ย 

Today I visited Stonehenge and Winchester. Stonehenge was what you would expect it to be. Winchester, though, was magnificent. It was a small little town, like the ones in Ireland I always pictured myself living in, and it reaffirmed the fact that I want to live elsewhere. I think I may just be tired of suburbia and traffic on 495. I also think it has to do with the fact that there are so many roundabouts here and it actually makes driving more efficient, where it actually just confuses people at home. And then there’s the fact that public transportation is just much better than the Green Line that I’m forced to deal with everyday in Boston.ย 

Above all, I think that I fed my wanderlust once upon a time, and to thank me, it just enveloped me even more. So now I’m stuck with those two choices again–to travel and travel and never stop, or to settle down and not live the dreams that I have. I think I’ll go with the former, given the plans in my mind right now, but where I’ll go? I can’t say. I supposed wherever the wind blows me. And if the wind is anywhere as strong as it was in the plains of England today, I can imagine it being very, very far away.

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