(This is a guest post by Maria from Both Paths)
In March this year, I decided to leave my home in Norway to follow my passion for traveling. Having just finished high school I did not want to start studying. I was not sure what I wanted to do, and I did not want to start something without being sure. I had my whole trip planned and scheduled. On March 4th I stood at the airport saying goodbye to my family. At this time I had no idea what I was going to experience and how much this trip was going to change both me and my life.
I arrived in Cape Town. Nervous and tired I took my first steps into the city that would change my life. My first night I was extremely nervous and I was questioning my whole decision to go on this journey. At the backpackers where I was staying, there was a bar, and there were a couple of people sitting by the bar. The vibe seemed great, and all I wanted was to go sit with them. I kept walking back and forth, back out in the last minute.
Finally, after getting up a lot of courage, I sat down at the bar. I sat down a bit away from the group at the bar. I think I looked more than a little lost and confused, and the woman who worked behind the bar asked me “do you want to come join our group?”.
Little did I know how much that woman would come to mean to me, and how much those words would change everything.
Most of the people I met were fellow travelers, but I also met locals who were working there. The people I met that night in the bar were extremely nice, and I got along with them so well. However, there was one I got along with the best, Chandré. She was working behind the bar that night I arrived. She is a local from Cape Town and she is now my girlfriend of five months. We are also partners in our blog.
I was only supposed to stay in Cape Town for 5 days, but my plans quickly changed. After my initial five days, I just could not leave, I knew in my heart that this place had more to offer. I ended up staying for about a month before I continued my trip. After leaving I was not able to stay away for long, and just a week later I returned. During my six months abroad most were spent in Cape Town, and I and Chandré also spent 1,5 months traveling through Southeast Asia.
Meeting Chandré has changed my life. I fell in love with Cape Town and I fell in love with her. Because of her, I got to see a different side of Cape Town, I got to see it from a locals view. We explored the city together. She has taught me so much about other cultures, being with someone from the opposite side of the world teaches you about acceptance. I have learned that just because someone does something different does not mean that it is wrong.
All cultures are different and mine is not “better” or “more right” than any other. I have learned so much about not only other cultures but also my own. I never thought much about the Norwegian culture before. Now I experienced minor differences that made me think about how we do it in Norway, so I was forced to think and notice my own culture. It made me love my own country more than ever. While I fell in love with Cape Town, I also fell in love with Norway again.
At the moment Chandré and I are living at my house in Norway, and we are traveling back to Cape Town in a few weeks. In the seven months we have known each other we have traveled to three continents and five countries. Being from different continents is definitely inconvenient, but I would not have it any other way. Through traveling I met someone who shares my passion, and who now shares my life.
Lena is the creator of the Social Travel Experiment. Planning her trip around the world took a lot of effort. To make it easier for future world travelers she has made it her mission to teach others how to have an unforgettable trip around the world, through short stays with locals, without wasting valuable time or money.