What Three Months Away Taught Me

My trip to Serbia this summer was the longest I have ever been away from home. It has been a life changing experience, one that I am hap...

My trip to Serbia this summer was the longest I have ever been away from home. It has been a life changing experience, one that I am happy to have experienced. Now as I wait for my connecting flight in Frankfurt to Toronto, I can't help but to reflect on what my trip has taught me. In no particular order, here is my list:
1. It is important to get in touch with your roots

(With my aunts that I met for the first time in Travnik, Bosnia)
Having left Bosnia in 1992 to Serbia, then moving from Serbia to Canada in 1994, I feel that I never got a chance to get in touch with my roots. Although my parents did a great job helping my sister and me preserve our language and heritage, I always felt like something was missing. Being away this summer, I got to know more about my Bosnian-Serbian-Croatian culture. Although I am proud to be Canadian, I am also proud of where I come from. I am grateful to have not only gotten in touch with my roots, but meeting some relatives for the very first time as well.

2. It is important to follow YOUR goals

(Some of my favourite students)
Despite my family being against me going away for the summer, I went anyway. Anyone who is familiar with Serbian parents knows how influential they can be on your life decisions. For the first time in my life I followed my heart in order to achieve my goals, and I am glad I did. Having had the opportunity to teach while away has also confirmed my dream of becoming an English as a Second Language Instructor. And I look forward to continuing in pursuing my journey.

3. It is better for others to be mad at you than for you to be mad at yourself

(My beautiful friend Katarina and I)
My dear friend Katarina told me one thing when I first arrived to Serbia in June and that was that it is better for others to be mad at you than for you to be mad at yourself. Having planted this seed in my head early in my trip, it gave me time to reflect upon the decisions I have made, and continue to make in my life. I full heartedly agree with this. If you live a life where you try to please others, you might not ever please yourself, and you may never be truly happy.

4. Don't be cheap

If there is something that you really want to do, and you want to do it, don't let money be a factor (unless it is way out of your budget of course). Although I lived on a very strict budget this summer, I did not restrict myself from doing things that I love. Any time I found myself thinking "well that will cost too much", I evaluated how much I actually wanted to whatever it was that I wanted to do. Having done this, I feel that I have no regrets for not having done something that I wanted to.

5. Treat yourself

Sometimes we tend to shower others with gifts and forget to do the same for ourselves. This ties in to my last point as well.

6. Don't be afraid to take risks

Everything seems scary until you go ahead and do it. Sometimes you have to take a risk in order to achieve a goal in your life.

7. Indulge in food

(Delicious Cevapi)
If you travel to a foreign place, chances are that you will be tempted to consume certain foods that may be outside of your dietary rules. My rule of thumb is to enjoy everything in moderation. Don't restrict yourself if there is something you truly want to try, unless you know it is detrimental to your health or beliefs.

 8. Be open to new experiences and meeting new people

Meeting people from different walks of life will teach you a lot about the world, others, and yourself. It is important to step outside your comfort zone and get to know people who are different from you. It will make your travel experience that much better. Also, don't decline new experiences. You never know where they may lead you!

9. Follow your heart

Be sure to always do what you want to do and not what others want you to do. Following your heart will leave you happy. But be sure to bring your brain along for the ride as well.

I know most of what I have learned is not directly related to traveling, but to life in general, however, it is my journey that has helped me make these realizations. I hope what I have learned also benefits you in some way as well. If you are contemplating taking a trip somewhere, but are afraid to do so, follow my advice and just go! You will never regret going to experience something new.

Happy Travels!


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  1. indeed - follow your heart! Great article, what an amazing time you've had!

  2. Wise advices, especially the 4th, for me.