Alternative title: “On Coming Home After Travel…When You No Longer Fit In.” I still have some India coverage to post, but I haven’t exactly been inspired to write–until today. It always helps to express your feelings and perhaps this post will resonate with someone out there who is feeling the same way.
2016 In Review
I’ve been home (New Orleans) for almost two months now. I came home right before Christmas, and I knew something was up when I wasn’t excited for the holidays. Sure, when I got home it was nice to see my family and friends, but I was thousands of miles from where my heart truly wanted to be. I feel that I left India right as I was getting into the groove of traveling there. Things were difficult due to the cash situation, but I’d rather deal with cash-strapped ATMs in India than have unlimited access to them in the U.S. as long as it meant that I was still traveling.
2016 was a fiery, awful, no good year for the world–but it also happened to be the best year of my life thus far. I spent the entire year working and traveling wherever. I. wanted. In January, I decided that I wanted to go work a contract in Denver to get a taste of life in the mountains, so I did. Then I wanted to backpack through Eastern/Central Europe and the Balkans, so I did that too. After going back to Denver to work an additional three month contract I rounded out the year in Africa and Asia, my favorite continent in the world. I don’t have the words to express how intoxicating the freedom of doing and traveling whatever and wherever you want without having to factor in a single other person is. In 2016 I was a full blown hedonist, indulging every single whim. It’s no wonder I had a bloody good time doing so! (Side note- Who else picks up British vernacular while on a backpacking trip?)
It’s been jarring to go from living that international lifestyle to life back home. This is compounded by the fact that I no longer completely feel at home in New Orleans. Over the past two years, the concept of “home” has become where my backpack and I happen to be at any given point in time. It’s become trains, rickshaws, planes, buses, hostel beds, and my couchsurfing hosts’ floors. Living a stationary life in the U.S. just isn’t an option for me because I will always feel bored, uninspired, and restricted. I sort of knew this when I returned from Southeast Asia in 2015, but I still assumed that I would take a gap year after graduate school and then return to the states to live a “normal” life. After my experiences in 2o16, I now fully realize that that life isn’t in the cards for me.
New Orleans is becoming a more liberal city thanks to the influx of Northerners and West Coasters moving here; however, most New Orleans natives (the people that I interact and hang out with on a daily basis) are staunchly conservative and traditional. Most of my acquaintances are preparing themselves for marriage, families, and long-term careers. Suffice to say, they aren’t exactly making plans to bum around South America with no plans or sleep on the floors of yurts in Kyrgyzstan. I have nothing in common with them anymore, and it’s hard to not be surrounded by people who have the same passion and fervor for exploring the world as I do, like I am when I’m on the road. My best friend (hi Taylor!) is a frequent traveler and can empathize with not feeling totally at home, and having her close has been a life-saver, but I miss my travel girlfriends a lot, too. One of them has just moved home to Mexico (hi Daniela!) so I hope she is prepared for my visits now that I am stateside again 🙂
In between eating my feelings, voraciously downloading ALL THE TRAVELOUGES to my kindle, briefly flirting with the idea of moving to India for a boy (yeah…no comment), I have come up with a plan to give me the life of travel that I want and need. I will (hopefully) move to the west coast within the next two weeks to work another contract, which will give me the opportunity to build up my savings. Part of me wants to move to Sacramento just so I can watch historical fiction TV shows and fight the good fight to save science (and everything else) with the fabulous Cely. During my stint out west, I will explore my surroundings as much as I can. I will travel, for the first time, to Canada and Mexico because these countries have so much to offer, and are right in my backyard and flight budget. After finishing the contract(s), I will begin graduate school in August to become a nurse practitioner. I will enter an accelerated program so that I can finish as quickly as I can while building a kick ass resume.
And because being a mental healthcare provider does not require one to do any assessments where you need to physically touch the patient, I will enter the field of telepsychiatry once I graduate. Working in telepsych will allow me to be fully location independent and make a living from my laptop, in a career that I’m excited about. And that is my idea of “living the dream.”
So, that’s where I am. Even though I am looking forward to the future, I do not want to wish away the year and a half until I graduate and can actually get back to long term travel. I will definitely have to work on being present and mindful to combat this. Finally, I want to add that the extent of my privilege is not lost on me. I realize how lucky I am to have had the opportunities to gain the education required to work these contracts, and live the life I have been living for the past two years.
Do you feel more at home on the road? Do you have any upcoming trips? Tell me all about it!
PLEASE MOVE TO SACRAMENTO. I squealed out loud when I read that. In all honestly, it’s a wonderful city. It’s one of the most integrated and diverse cities in America and you are constantly surrounded by people who are totally different than you in a hundred different ways. And it’s awesome. There are so many different types of food, and the farm to table movement here is unreal. It’s an affordable city for California and feels like a small town that is actually a legit city. People here are nice, and mostly liberal (although outside of the city it’s get very conservative really quickly). There’s also a lot more recognition of and desire for inclusion and acceptance of every one. There’s almost no humidity, and the climate is really nice. Even in the summer when it’s 100 degrees, it gets down into the 50s and 60s as soon as the sun sets. Two hours from Tahoe, three from Yosemite, two from the bay area, and endless other gorgeous parks and outdoors within a few hours. It’s seriously SO NICE. And trees! So many trees. PICK US.
ALL OF THAT sounds so incredible! Especially about the humidity. One of my old roommates did a contract in Sacramento before she left to travel and really enjoyed it, so I’m definitely going to look into it!
Um, telepsychiatry? GENIUS! You’ve found a way to live the dream! Super pumped for you. Just gotta push through grad school and you’re golden.
I think I’m gonna head to Europe this summer for a bit (because it gets super cold in NZ and I’m still sad I missed Portugal last year) before heading home for a friend’s wedding. Then I have no idea, but I’m certain it won’t be sticking around in North Carolina. We must meet up some day! Maybe head back to Montenegro where you’re a legend… (Do you also still miss Eastern Europe and the Balkans? I think about it all the time.)
Right?! I’m so happy that I did my research and found out about this career option. And I’ve been accepted so it is official! WE NEED TO MEET UP! When is the wedding? Right now I will have May 25-June 11 and August 4-18ish free. Not a huge amount of time, but it’s something. And then winter break (so weird that I’ll have those again)
And yes, I think about the Balkans all of the time–especially when I could really use a 2 liter bottle of beer 🙂 I would love to go back. I say definitely go through with your summer plans. Summer in Europe is a beautiful thing. Email me and we can see if we can coordinate something!!
Oh my I am glad I stumbled upon your blog. You have the same plan as I do! I’m an American nurse in grad school for psych NP and want to do telepsychiatry when I graduate so that I can live the flexible life of travel with a great career. This is quite a niche and I would love to compare notes with you along the way!
Sorry, your comment was in my spam folder so I’m just now seeing this–I just sent you an email!