My family has always been relatively poor, so the only times I’ve been abroad with them were for two work-stays of about six months each in Norway and Sweden when I was a toddler, and one drive to Spain when I was around four (all of which I don’t remember).
However, here are pictures of me in Norway and Spain, attesting to the fact that it did indeed happen:
(I wasn’t three in the first picture. That’s just my age when I learned to write my name)
The dream that never came true
When I was in my early teens, I was obsessed with American TV-shows (Dawson’s Creek, Beverly Hills, Charmed), and my biggest dream was to travel to the US and become an actress, TV-show host, news anchor person or a singer – even though I’m incredibly unskilled in all of the above. I had MTV and E! Channel, and I thought being a celebrity looked so glamorous, so it was probably more about the lifestyle than the job. I practiced my acting and singing in front of the video camera I bought with money I received at my confirmation as well as prepare the speeches I’d give when winning an award; it was so ridiculous. Anyway, that was the dream that never came true.
The first trip that actually did happen was a week-long charter vacation to Turkey with my uncle and two cousins, a few weeks before I turned 15. I paid for it myself, with the money I’d made working in a local bakery. And I guess that trip ignited something in me, because since then, I’ve added 19 other countries to the list, out of which I’ve been back to at least seven of them multiple times and lived in three of them for a combined period that exceeds three years. Those countries include Ireland, Australia and the US, and I plan to make blog posts about each of them, but for now, I think I will just ramble on about what travel means to me and how I can justify traveling so much, when I’m a strong advocate for the environment.
What travel means to me
First of all, I love traveling because it’s an escape (duh). It’s like a never-ending weekend, no serious business, sleeping in, eating whatever you want, paying for things with what might as well be Monopoly-money. The weather is better, you don’t run into that bitch from school and you can see and do things that are completely new to you.
Secondly, by being exposed to different cultures, I learn so much about myself and my home country:
- I am so privileged to be able to drink clean water straight out of the faucet, and I take that for granted Every. Single. Day. I still do!
- By being sick in another country, I’ve learned to appreciate the Danish hospital service: I can receive treatment without being insured and without bringing my wallet.
- By being in other countries, and even well-developed ones, I’ve realized that public transportation is not as reliable as it is in Denmark. Sure, we have delays, but you will never hear me complain about it again (unless it’s my last day at my internship and my train has been cancelled, which makes me late for a really important event – because, yes, that happened and I wasn’t happy).
- By being surrounded by beautiful nature, I’ve come to terms with what my values in life are: I’m a guest on this planet, and I have no right to kill nor hurt any beings for personal reasons.
I think it’s so important to reflect on these things, and I don’t think you truly do until you see what others have or what your impact on the world is.
Instant pleasures are temporary – memories and wisdom are forever
So, finally, why do I think it’s okay to travel, but not to eat animals and be a mindless consumer?
It can actually be said very concisely: instant pleasures are temporary – memories and wisdom are forever.