On Living, Learning and Leaving
Time moves at a different pace when your senses are being stimulated by all the wonders that the world has to offer. Home feels stagnant; there is a desperation to continue living a life that is elsewhere. The mystery of the earth and all that creates it pulls me from home time and time again. This time, I was pulled when I least expected it, to a place I had never dreamed of experiencing.
Uprooting in the middle of my final year of my degree, I boarded a plane and stepped out onto a Caribbean island, determined to create a life for myself during the following four months that I would call Barbados home.
Not two hours into my arrival and my flip flops were in hand, my feet burying themselves into the white sand only five minutes from my hall of residence. It’s true that once your soul meets the sea it can never be forgotten. It took nearly thirteen years to see the vast beauty of the ocean after having been introduced to the sea in my first year of life and I believe that all that time, it was what my soul was searching for. Ever since, I am drawn to parts of the world where the waves hit the shore.
Needless to say, having the Caribbean Sea at my doorstep made me the happiest girl in the world.
Life on the island was a simple one with sunshine that turned my hair shades of blonde, sand that found it’s way into every crevice of my belongings, and sea water that embraced us all with open arms. With rarely a frown, the only things escaping from our lips were songs, stories, and continuous laughter that can only be expelled when you’re constantly experiencing new and wondrous moments.
Instant friends were made and together we explored the island from sunrise to sunset, never a space in between. We climbed through caves to hidden pools that looked out over the sea, we hiked through the countryside, we took our best shot at learning to whine with friends who called the Caribbean home, we mastered the bus system and we sat in circles around beach bonfires, singing songs and sharing coconuts.
I had the opportunity to spend my days working with some of the poorest people on the island with risky lifestyles. Despite going in there with the intention of creating positive change and increasing their chances for opportunity, I came out having been taught more than I ever could have imagined. I entered their community as a stranger but was quickly dubbed one of their own, a humbling feeling that I will forever be grateful for.
Barbados began as a comparison to travel I had done in the past but I quickly realized that studying abroad could never be compared to that type of travel. I wasn’t a backpacker flitting through. I became a student and a resident and, in doing so, I was awarded all that Barbados had to offer — the good and the ugly. It wasn’t sugar coated by being hidden in the confines of a resort or a day off the cruise ship. I witnessed rugged, untouched beauty of the island, witnessed raw suffering from those who felt comfortable to share their stories, and the non-discriminatory kindness of the people.
Time moves at a different pace. Two weeks can feel like months and yet months in Barbados flew by like days.
This has been a lesson in how I want to live my life, which direction I want to take. I lived with my entire being, every inch of my heart and soul has been put into these last five months and I have reaped the rewards. I have created a lifetime of lasting memories, conquered fears, and created friendships with people all around the world. It’s made me realize that I am at the perfect moment of my life, no longer a student and not yet tied into a career, to shape my future in any way I dream of. While it’s bittersweet to say goodbye, it has renewed my curiosity and drive to adventure, to experience the world in many ways from many places.