“Until you have explored this vast planet, how do you know you’re not meant for something or somewhere else?”
I left my home on Auckland’s North Shore for the first time in 2012. It was a four-month stint to explore Europe and America and to fulfil my aching wanderlust and discover a little more about me. Cliché, I know, but by the time I left university, my direction lacked, and the thought of settling down in the same place I was raised filled me with anxiety. I needed to escape, explore, excite my world. So I booked my tickets and planned my ‘OE’ (Overseas Experience).
Four months of unrestrained adventure ensued, and my wanderlust was well and truly fed. My desire to see every corner of the globe overwhelmed the internal demons telling me to ‘settle down in Auckland’. I loved crossing borders to welcome new cultures. My trip flew by, and before I knew it, I was back doing the same thing I had been only months earlier. I felt I had barely scratched the surface of what was out there.
So I saved.
I saved all the money I could, so I could once again get that feeling of utter thrill, of bravery, of a challenge, of strength. I wanted to feel the fear of things not going to plan, vulnerability, and total independence. Travel is the only thing that forces you to feel all of this. Travelling teaches you more than all your schooling combined. It is everything your parents dream for you. It offers you the opportunity to find closure whether you settle back where you started or in a place you stumbled across. Until you have explored this vast planet, how do you know you’re not meant for something or somewhere else?
I had always envisaged my life would be full of travel with my roots firmly set in New Zealand. But now, four years since I first left New Zealand for my OE, I’ve not looked back. My roots are split across two places (London and Auckland), and wherever I land, I am never going to be complete. And, yet I feel more content with life than ever before. I have finally come to terms with the fact that wherever I settle, I am always going to have the feeling of missing someone or something. But doesn’t that make me so lucky? Like Winnie-the-Pooh said, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard?” I am reminded of this quote every time I leave London for NZ and vice versa.
I think the misconception of travel or moving abroad is that you lose the connection with your home, but you don’t at all. If anything, I feel more appreciative of all I have there. You are only ever one plane ride away, and your friends and family are always ready and waiting for your visit. Real friendships never falter, no matter where you are in the world. If there is anything I know confidently about moving abroad, it is that.
Given how much I have learnt since I embarked on a life of travel, I now make it my goal to visit somewhere new every year. Last year I was lucky enough to visit Italy for the first time and return to beautiful Paris—the wonders of living in Europe where new countries are train rides away. This year I plan to travel up the Pacific Coast Highway in California and potentially visit a tropical location (and escape the often testing England winters), like Bali or Thailand.
But before this, I have a plane to catch somewhere I know better than anywhere and a trip I ensure I make every year—back to Aotearoa—to where my roots are still strong and always will be. No matter where my feet land.
Author - Rebecca Benson
Rebecca Benson is from New Zealand. She works as a client manager at a brand and marketing agency in London and loves fashion styling.