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Life After The Pandemic

Grace Terrell ~  Virginia, USA

This pandemic has changed everything for me. I lost my job and a security blanket that I've had for so many years, and at first, it was honestly scary. With time I started to feel liberated, and it ultimately lit a spark in me to become more self-sufficient. Having all this free time has definitely forced me to take a look at myself and the mental patterns that have held me back for too many years... the fear of loss being a huge one. 

Financial security makes us feel safe and protected. These are big human motivators, and as people, we often do a lot of things we don't necessarily want to in order to feel that sense of “security.” Going through all the fears and emotions of not having that anymore made me realize it's actually not that bad. I believe all the time we’ve had to think will make many people more resilient and bolder in their decisions; it definitely has for me. We can lose everything in one second, so don't hesitate to do the things you want to do now.

~ Grace Terrell ~

Virginia, USA

Kel Henderson ~   Sydney, Australia

Some of my biggest challenges during the world shutting down were mental health struggles and resurfacing emotions, namely the return of depression and anxiety, which I hadn’t experienced in years. Coming out of all of that now, I see the positives effects of that "time off" and I'm grateful for that reflection period and what it's given me. Its allowed me to utilize the tools I’ve learned throughout my life, which have helped bring me out of that sadness once before; but this time it put emphasis on the importance of reaching out to those around me. The pandemic pushed me to dedicate more time and energy to what I know now to be essential; the emotional, the spiritual, and the internal. With all the running around, filling our schedules, and spending money unnecessarily (something we all do) - I now see I'm completely fine with spending days in, watching strings of movies, reading books, watering the plants, and putting away my coin for an adventure later on down the road. Moving forward with countries easing restrictions and travel resumes, I will be cautious, of course, and I’ll follow the information and statistics put in front of me, but besides that, I don’t want fear and anxiety to rule my life any longer. When the timing is right, my next stop will most likely be Thailand, and then who knows, for my 30th next year, I'm tossing up between Hawaii and Japan. More than ever before, this is the time for re-evaluation, and re-invention. Many people I am close with, myself included, have started to focus on who "we are” as people, and what's important to us on core levels. Where do our values lie? And whether our life and where we invest our energy and time - including work - align with that.

~ Kel Henderson

Sydney, Australia

Whitney Holder~  Conneticut, USA

I'm grateful that I was able to adjust quickly during the pandemic and found ways to enjoy my time being at home. For the first time, in a long time, I was able to live a slower, and simpler life which led me to start capitalizing on the newfound time I now had. I picked up on home workouts, cooking creative meals, reconnecting with friends and family, and simply just relaxing and letting my mind recharge for once. My struggles during this time were mostly associated with being surrounded by the negative energy of others around me and the constant battle of not letting that affect me or my mental well-being. I believe the quarantine period stirred up a lot of suppressed emotions for many people because "getting away" or traveling may have been their method of "escapism" from their every day lifestyle. When travel halted, everyone was forced to sit with themselves and face their subconscious, since it could no longer be drowned out by their busy schedules, meetups, and travel plans. I’ve always been told I was a patient person, but I certainly learned during that time that I needed to refine my skillsets in that area and the areas of others. I needed to take a step back in order to remind myself to meet people where they are currently and with the level of compassion them and myself needs. After all that's happened in the past few years I would challenge people to genuinely check in with their inner thoughts and to be honest with themselves about what their true drivers in life are. Is it really traveling to see the world because you want to explore cultures? Or are you running from something you don't have the capacity, space, or support to address right now? What influences shape your mindset? If the pandemic was a positive experience for you because you enjoyed the forced time to stop and reflect... what small steps can you incorporate into your life moving forward to proactively keep you motivated and fulfilled in your day-day? There is no right or wrong answer. I believe the answers comes from making one bold decision at a time until we find a spark in ourselves that ignites the rest of the way.

~Whitney Holder~

Conneticut, USA

Josh Spillett ~   Plymouth, U.K

So did the pandemic change my outlook on travelling? Absolutely not. I still intend to get out there and see every part of this planet that I possibly can. I don't feel as though I have taken anything for granted, and this can sound as nice or as dark as you take it, but nothing lasts forever. Everything has a duration. Emotions, people, viruses... none of that can go on indefinitely. I have used this opportunity to explore my home grounds a little more in-depth and made it my mission to roam the places I hadn't tread before, and I must say, I've been pleasantly surprised with the outcome. My biggest challenge being quarantined at home was without question the lack of social contact and freedom of movement. You can only keep yourself busy with what is in your home for so long before you need some other mental and physical stimulation. With that said, this time did give me a chance for a great deal of introspection. Did I have any hobbies I wanted to learn or refine myself in but could not due to what i believed were time restraints? Were there any menial tasks that I never got around to doing? There were now opportunities surrounding me to better myself and also relax my body and mind, almost like a factory reset, if you will. I was one of the fortunate people that managed to retain my job during this whole pandemic. It made me come to realise that my time on this earth is more precious than clocking in and out of a building. The pursuit of money is a double-edged sword, and sometimes I find myself on the pointy end. It has made me want to branch out and try my hand at other avenues of work, to hopefully be a force for positive change in people, if possible. But mainly, I discovered that I wouldn't have remarkable stories to tell my grandchildren if I continued to work for the man the way I do now. Money can be regained; however, your time is lost the moment the hourglass runs out. What I know now is that I am even more eager than before to explore this hectic but beautiful world and all it has to offer. I have seen cities and towns that I have visited on previous travels become burning wastelands in a matter of weeks due to current events, and whilst this is scary, it is also apart of human history. When I am older and re-telling my story, i will be able to say that that "I was there. I saw. I learned. I lived."

~ Josh Spillett

Plymouth, U.K

Patricia Loureiro ~   Santa Cruz, Bolivia

Never in a million years would I have thought the privilege to travel the world could be revoked in an instant. Covid made me realize how much I took that for granted prior to all of this and for me, it redefined the meaning of freedom. Being stuck in my house drove me crazy! Although I was able to work from home, some days were just harder than others. Sometimes I had so much free time it honestly made me feel uncomfortable. I would just think to myself “how did we get here…?”

The pandemic made me understand the importance of self-care and having a healthy work-life balance. I realized how much I needed to take a step back and refocus on the things that actually made me happy. One of the biggest lessons I took from this experience is that nothing is promised, being able to travel is a privilege, and money is definitely not the only tool that creates opportunities or happiness. When the world fully re-opens, I'm excited to explore it even further,   visiting friends and family along the way. First stop, Madrid Spain!

~ Patricia Loureiro

Santa Cruz, Bolivia

Ludvig Joleson ~  Vaxholm, Sweden

I quickly realized that before Covid-19, I had absolutely taken the privilege to travel the world for granted. In my time of isolation, I realized how complacent I felt at home and with my social circle to whom I could always return too. This led to the reminder that I am in charge of my everyday life choices and what I make out of them. I have taken this time to no longer make excuses for working out, reading books, and spending quality time with those I love.

I do feel that the pandemic in many ways has helped people realize not so much the freedom of traveling but the advantage of being a part of a “society.” Not everyone is happy with the different ways each government handled the whole situation, and that's understandable. I firmly believe that the number 1 thing to do in these situations is to ask yourself: “What can I do in my position to make for a domino effect for positive change?”.

~ Ludvig Joleson ~

Vaxholm, Sweden

Lauren Popcheff ~   Indiana, USA

Being quarantined these past two years has been a crazy ride for me. I was living in Australia when the news of Covid-19 started circulating around the world. What's crazy is.. I actually had an intense gut feeling telling me that I needed to go home before the pandemic even surfaced. I vividly remember sitting on the beach expressing to my boyfriend these unshakable feelings that were telling me, almost screaming even.. “Lauren! You NEED to go home!” My intuition ended up being spot on, and I left Australia and flew back to Indiana, where within two weeks of returning, I was now a part of a mandatory stay-at-home lockdown order. It’s just crazy how your entire life can do a complete 180 overnight. I went from traveling the globe, spending each day with friends from different corners of the world, eating out, constantly catching busses/planes/trains, you name it; living my life with complete freedom - to the greatest extent of the meaning, to then, suddenly, I was limited to the walls of my own home. We were now required to wear a mask everywhere we went, I could no longer catch up with friends, plan trips, eat out or even go to work! I went from having complete liberation to now hardly having any free will at all. This was a quick reminder that travel is a privilege, not a right. Those of us who're lucky enough to travel around the world are doing something that many people aren't able to do. As many travelers would agree, it gives us a new perspective of all the different extremes in life - one being freedom vs. isolation. I feel like that contrast in itself is a valuable perspective to move forward with, and I'm thankful for it. The most challenging aspect of quarantine for me was the mental. I have struggled with anxiety and depression in the past, and travel has always helped me with that. But being in a lockdown.. at home, unable to explore or properly socialize... and being back in the place I had left all my old thoughts, patterns, and habits... it was hard. I struggled daily just to find peace in my own head. In saying this, I did find that a lot of growth happened for me during this time, and overall, I would say having that break to breathe has actually been a gift. This pandemic gave me something I never thought I would have again - time to rest and relax with my family and loved ones. I finally wasn’t forcing myself to feel like there was something else I had to be doing or somewhere else I had to be. It gave me peace of mind and space to come together and reunite with myself and other people. I made a lot of online connections during quarantine and came to some epiphanies about my own life. I realized that I wanted to work for myself, and I wanted to be financially independent and freed of working for anyone else ever again. The biggest thing I’m taking away from this pandemic is the new shifted perspective and the gratitude that it's given me. I now act upon a newfound motivation for cultivating my own online source of income, as I now know how important it is in times like these. I've also learned to look at all facets of life differently, and I'm moving forward with an endless amount of appreciation for the things I once took for granted.

~ Lauren Popcheff

Indiana, USA

Connor Babic ~  Alberta, Canada

Given the pandemic, I've definitely learned to appreciate travel more, as you never know when that privilege can be taken right away. My biggest challenge about being quarantined at home was that I had to find new ways to take care of my mental health without access to many people in the process. For me, this was difficult, because human contact has always kept me so grounded. I did notice, however, that although I lost some social aspects of my life, I did start to look after my body more, and in a way, the pandemic brought out some other positive new habits as well. I think Covid-19 has given many people time to think about what the next chapter of their life could really look like. I also believe that fluidity in terms of your career is important as well! Having the freedom to experience new places, people, and things is far more important than living a stagnant lifestyle and going to the same job day in and day out. Personally, I will travel again, maybe within a few months of the opening of the borders, just to let the world have its test run with the new flow of foot traffic. My first trip abroad after I do feel comfortable will probably be to Costa Rica, as I’ve always wanted to go! A lot of people, including myself, thought travel was a "right". It's hard even to process that in such a short period of time, we had that right stripped away from us, and it's given me a whole new appreciation and perspective for where I have travelled and where i want to go next. I think the most significant aspect I've taken away is honestly live in the moment, and constantly seek new experiences. “Travel because money returns, time doesn’t.” - Unknown ~

~ Connor Babic ~

Alberta, Canada

Emilie Van Den Berghe ~  Paris, France

First off, I want to say that I’m very grateful and lucky that I had the opportunity to travel the world for six months and experience pure freedom right before the start of the pandemic. It certainly helped me get through that unprecedented time that we're now starting to resurface from. When the news first came of the virus and the world completely stopped, I didn't feel trapped or like I was missing out on anything. That extraordinary past parenthesis in my life gave me the necessary tools and courage I needed to go through these unforeseen changes and to be able to process and adapt to this new life the best way I could. The journey, the people, and all those experiences gave me the resilience to go back to my daily life, but in a way where I faced and saw everything differently. The pandemic taught me that you shouldn't take anything for granted, especially not your freedom. Traveling is precious, and we should cherish every opportunity to discover the world and the people living in it. I don't see the next trip as a “next destination.” I prefer to ask myself what kind of experience I am seeking now. And what is it that I want to feel? When the times right, I'm considering visiting Iceland because I’ve heard the landscape there is divine and the culture and people are unique to anything I've ever seen. It’s also on my list to go to Utah and experience hiking in beautiful outbacks and maybe even rent a minivan with some good friends and tour more of the US and Canada. Who knows what's next for me :).

~ Emilie Van Den Berghe ~

Paris, France

Zachary Mack ~  Detroit, Michigan

Like most people in the world, my travel plans for 2020-2021 were entirely affected by the pandemic. I canceled a trip I had made to South America, a continent I've always wanted to explore; before then, I never really thought about my past travels as a privilege, right, etc. I thought of it as an opportunity to grow as a person both mentally and spiritually, and although I was unemployed for a little, I really enjoyed my time off, spending days reflecting on life by the lake.

I'm still taking this time to work on my career, and I have recently signed up for an IT course as I’m looking to completely change my profession when the job market reopens. Yes, this entire Covid situation sucked, but looking at the big picture, it will only be a part of our lives, and I have no doubt we'll come out of this stronger as people.

~ Zachary Mack ~

Detroit, Michigan 

Mahta Haririnia ~  Tehran, Iran

Because of the pandemic, I think many of us appreciate more than ever the freedom to travel and be with our family and friends whenever we please. I definitely think I took it for granted because I never imagined something like this could happen, where the whole world could stop and all of us be affected by it. I think the hardest part of quarantine was finding a new routine that worked for me, and also being stuck in one house with the same people. At times it felt great to sleep in and rest my body, but after one month, I was over it! I missed the little things, like going out to a simple lunch, traveling, treating & seeing patients, all of it! I actually got laid off from my job because of the pandemic. However, since I graduated, I’ve been throwing around the idea of opening up my own practice, which has been a massive dream of mine, but I never felt quite ready. I think this certain situation has opened my eyes to the positives on building my own practice sooner rather than later. I think freedom to make your own choices in life is so important. It allows you to be the narrator of your own life and create possibilities and opportunities you could have never dreamed of. I definitely will admit that this pandemic was necessary for multiple reasons. The appreciation of freedom, alone time, and most importantly, it really pushed us to be more present within ourselves and those we love.

~ Mahta Haririnia ~

Tehran, Iran

Anthony Casciano ~   New York, USA

I have built so much of my identity as a semi-nomadic world wanderer. During the third month of the COVID-19 pandemic, I had a colossal and complete mental breakdown. I barely slept, could not keep food down, and cried more than all other instances in my entire life combined. I was unable to cope with the idea of an uncertain future that was not catered to my own specific plans.

Fortunately, I was able to snap out of my depression by capitalizing on the things I still did have: access to friends, family, my teaching job, and the beautiful island of Oahu, Hawaii, on which I live. In my heart, I believe the pandemic was the world telling our species to take a seat and acknowledge that on this planet, we’re not always in control, and we are far from the top.

Human globalization is indeed a privilege and should always be respected as such. With this in mind, I do have a newfound philosophy on traveling when it’s safe to return to doing so. I genuinely believe we can travel the world more sustainably and this time with greater purpose.

~ Anthony Casciano

New York, USA

Lydia Ziani ~  Montreal, Canada

To say I took traveling for granted before the pandemic would be an UNDERSTATEMENT! I realize now that I waited a long time before exploring the world the way I wanted to because I thought my financial situation would prevent me from doing so. Since I have both a Canadian and French passport, I believed the world was always right at my fingertips, just a vacation or flight away. What's crazy is that it's the main reason I postponed my travels for so long. But now I know I was waiting for the wrong reasons. It’s easy to overthink about "the perfect" travel buddy, is the timing right? and of course, “ what’s the best financial budget for this adventure? When I started traveling, I realized how much I needed that time off to take a real break from my own reality. To step back and enjoy the world but also enjoy time with myself for once. There's never perfect timing or that "perfect" budget...or travel buddy. Now I realize from now on, if you want it, DO NOT WAIT FOR IT! EVER! Traveling grants me space; it provides me healing and growth emotionally, socially, and professionally. It allows me to enjoy my life and it also helps me realize what I need to let go of to genuinely become a happier person. I'm not sure if it is a fortunate thing or not, but since I'm a nurse, I got the chance to keep working and helping people even during the lockdown in Montreal. My job as a nurse really helped me get through this tough time in history. I truly believe not having it would've been a disaster for my mental health. I got to help people, and made decisions I never thought I would be faced with, and It really forced me to get out of my comfort zone, which was something I've always wanted to focus on. I still needed a bit of traveling to clear my head before the second pandemic wave hit in September 2020. I forced myself to go out to places at the "bottom" of my list only because they were in the same country as me, and it was ‘convenient', and wow, am I glad I did! I feel that in Canada, and even more in the States, we are so fortunate to have these big countries with so much to see in them. With knowing that, I thought I had no other choice but to find a way to create that space for myself no matter what it took. To step away from my day-to-day life and see things I haven't seen before, meet new people, understand the world through their eyes and grow from that. When it's time for me to travel outside the country again, I will make sure I do so safely and respectfully, but Covid won't stop me from living life anymore. I think it really just depends on everyone's limit. I also think people are afraid to sometimes test the waters with themselves, even if it can excel them to the next stage in their lives. For me, this time made me find strength in places i didn't know I had, and for that alone, I'm truly grateful. I choose to take these lessons I learned during the pandemic to use in the next chapter of my life and I can now confidently say I am ready to see what that next chapter looks like!

~ Lydia Ziani ~

Montreal, Canada

Max Hayhurst ~   London, U.K

This is probably the best chance anyone has ever had to change things in their life they’re unhappy with. This pandemic hasn’t changed my view on that as I believe your happiness is way more valuable than any job out there. Money will come and go, but you only have one life as far as we know.

Time away from that 9-5 grind to actually think is something rare. But I believe traveling is an opportunity anyone can have if they really want it. It’s just like living at home but better. Go out and do what you do here, but somewhere else in the world, and this time make it exactly what “YOU” want!

~ Max Hayhurst ~

 London, U.K

Alanna Murphy ~  Florida, USA

Within the first few months of the pandemic, I would definitely say that I felt a shift within myself as i had been quarantined with my immediate family, including my parents and my three younger sisters. While travel has always been such an important thing for me, I really enjoyed that time I spent at home with nowhere else to go. I have always been close with my family, but now, spending so much time has bonded us in a whole new way. I have also had much more time to focus on creative projects that I otherwise would’ve put off, considering I worked full-time before the pandemic hit. It is a strange time we live in, but somehow, I think we will grow and expand from it. As far as travel goes, I don’t think I necessarily took it for granted before, but I do look at it in a new light, and I think I will appreciate travel even more now that this is all over. This pandemic has forced me to slow down as an individual, but I think it has also demanded the entire world to slow down as a whole. We don’t “need” all the things we think we need in life. Ultimately, it is the simple things that often make us the happiest - whether being around loved ones, a walk in nature, a good meal, listening to music we love, etc. Now that the borders are reopening, I definitely want to resume traveling, but I can’t say exactly when or where I will go first. There are so many places I would love to visit, and I know with time, I will. But as of now, I am not in any rush. I think this pandemic has really made me rethink my concept of time. Just like traveling has opened my eyes to how much one can see and experience in just a few months, this pandemic has shown me that sometimes taking a few months just to simply be, is equally as vital. I do think people will appreciate travel much more and won’t necessarily take it for granted as they may have before. But I also believe in some ways it will bring people from all over the world closer together. Every single person in the world is dealing with this stage of a "new normal", no matter their country of origin, religion, gender, etc., and as humans, we have to come together in a way like never before to shape our new reality. The most significant aspect I took away from being quarantined and covid is the importance of caring for one another and this planet we all share, as well as caring for ourselves. I think the pandemic made us re-evaluate the ways we live our lives, and I feel myself shifting in so many ways right now, and I think ultimately, I will come out of this with more patience, understanding, and zest for life.

~ Alanna Murphy ~

Florida, USA

Justin Banz ~    Utah, USA

Since the pandemic, I have further come to appreciate all the traveling I've done over the past decade. Thankfully I’ve taken this time to enjoy where I was prior and where I am now, and with that, I have focused my energy on building a business and planning the next chapter of my life. I do well on my own anyway, so having that extra time to work on my goals was great for me. I was putting a new business together before covid-19, but this unprecedented time has made me think more about how I can make it recession-proof in case a situation like this ever happened again. I have many friends who lost their jobs, so I feel fortunate that I’ve been an entrepreneur for years. I think it’s all about having the right balance with a profession that you enjoy working in and making sure to include plenty of time for new adventures and discoveries along the way In these times, I’m reminded of an Alan Watts quote, “What If Money Was No Object? What do you desire? What makes you itch? “Do you like horses? He says.. "Why not work with horses? Do you enjoy reading or writing? What about working in a bookstore or for a copywriting department?” I think once you find that balance and stick with it, your life will only blossom from there.

~ Justin Banz

 Utah, USA  

Carola Hoesch-Vial ~  Cologne, Germany

I have given everything a lot of thought since the start of the pandemic. Of course, like everyone else, my plans were immediately affected, but being on lockdown also opened up many opportunities for reflection. With all the uncertainty around, a lot of questions arose. It became pretty clear that it would take a while for us to go back to traveling in the way we once used to. I even asked myself if travel would ever be the same again. I don't think I ever took it for granted, but this time definitely amplified my gratitude to roam this world freely. The pandemic was a huge mix bag for me. The first lockdown was somewhat refreshing, as it was new and people were motivated to pull through together, and there was a sense of cohesion and team spirit in a way. Everything and everyone slowed down, and it felt like a long-needed reset from our fast-paced lifestyles. I took time to reflect, meditate, do a lot of yoga, and spent a lot of time in nature. On the other end, although I was very grateful to be with my family during this time, we hadn’t been in a housing situation this close and intense since my teenage years. To keep my mind busy, I tried out a lot of DIY at-home projects, picked up new craft hobbies, and started growing vegetables (who didn’t)? I made banana bread, countless puzzles, and somedays just drank and relaxed because why not (It was the perfect excuse!). The first Zoom calls, discovering the Houseparty app, and expanding my freelance work to new horizons from home because suddenly many unheard-of opportunities now were possible for everyone. It was all quite exciting! The negative side of this time was living with people at extremely high risk of the virus. I had to move different and be more cautious than any of my other friends who after awhile started meeting up for walks, and picnics in their gardens, you name it. I found myself declining every invitation, in order to keep my family safe. Despite all the meltdowns and frustration, I want to say now how thankful I am for what I’ve learned about myself, my family, and the time I spent with them. It’s been intense but insightful and beautiful in its own way. Back to the good news, I have a Work & Travel Visa for Canada that I was supposed to go on in 2020. Luckily, I could extend it, which means it will be the first thing I will be doing when it is safe to do so. The position is the same that i was supposed to take last year, and – lucky me (again!) – when it became clear I wouldn’t be able to make it over in 2020, they offered me the job for 2021 - so, cheers! To new beginnings!

~ Carola Hoesch-Vial ~

Cologne, Germany

Vuk Velickovic ~   Banovo Brdo, Belgrade, Serbia

I feel that my uncontrollable fear of being complacent forces my drive to move around as much as I do. This can be probably backed up by the number of random long-term moves I've made throughout the years that started at such a young age. I'm ready to move again now that this pandemic has started to cease, with countries now opening back up every day. Next stop: Greenwich! 

My current job, teaching tennis privately, wasn't entirely affected. I was working with people in their homes, which, unless there is a world war 3 or something along those lines (not far from reality), I don't see any reason I couldn't make my own space from this passion. I think everyone learned something from this experience, at least I hope, as it's up to us as individuals to choose what we take away from this and bring with us into the future.

~ Vuk Velickovic

Banovo Brdo, Belgrade, Serbia

Min Lin ~  New York, USA

I'm grateful to have traveled as much as I have throughout my lifetime; but still... I feel it sad knowing what potentially lies ahead regarding the travel experience feeling different and possibly being more complex moving forward. Part of me hopes that it will become more difficult so that only those who genuinely want to explore this beautiful world will do so. I don't know why, but I find that could be a significant advantage to both the ecosystem's recovery and the mindset of tourists as a whole. I told a friend the other day that if I knew what these past couple of years were going to be like, I would have turned back time and booked a one-way ticket to New Zealand HAHA. I think this pandemic is a lot of things, and for me, it allowed me to slow down my lifestyle and be ok with where I am currently at. This duration has helped me sit still and remember why I’m not traveling the world 365 days a year and how important it is to balance that while maintaining the great relationships that I have in New York City. This time of self-reflection and self-care has allowed me to work on hobbies I’ve always been interested in, like (cooking, learning Spanish, playing piano, redoing the apartment, etc.) Skill sets I would have probably never "had time to do" if I hadn't had the opportunity to take a breather and focus solely on my own personal growth as a person.

~ Min Lin ~

New York, USA

Anais Diaz ~  Maracaibo, Venezuela

To say I took traveling for granted before the pandemic would be an understatement! Not that I hate my life, quite the contrary, I live in Miami, and I love it! But there is something so special about working a little extra to compensate for time off to travel, make plans, see friends, and all the excitement of not knowing where you are going or whom you will meet along the way. I know it sounds crazy but being outside my comfort zone is my favorite hobby! It stimulating for me to learn new things and really feel that growth within myself when I do. I hated being stuck at home, hated it! I felt trapped, especially working from home, and being there 24 hours of the day was just untolerable… I definitely had a couple of mental breakdowns (and forever thankful for my BF / now-husband for his patience :). With all the free time I had, I ended up expanding my yoga practice which really helped fight the negativity and boredom away that would come from time to time. As the borders start to open back up entirely, I plan on visiting my friend Valentina in London and probably heading to Portugal or Turkey after that! We’ve made all sorts of crazy plans, but I think London – Portugal, and Turkey will be in the very foreseen future!! If anyone would like to join, Bienvenidos!!

~ Anais Diaz ~

Maracaibo, Venezuela

Joshua Wiegand ~  Karlsruhe, Germany

I'm very grateful that I was able to travel the world extensively before it all shut down. I was planning on staying in Germany for a while to finish my studies, so the lockdown didn’t affect my plans too much, but I can also say that I never took traveling for granted either. 

The majority of the world's population can’t even dream about exploring the globe, and I understand that. So, for now, I am only traveling in Europe and am hoping that Covid has settled when I’ve graduated so I can see even more of this beautiful world when the time is right.

~ Joshua Wiegand ~

Karlsruhe, Germany 

Sarah Brown ~  California, USA

Australia's reopening has been such a breath of fresh air and well deserved, especially in Melbourne, where not so long ago, we experienced a nine-month mandatory lockdown and couldn't travel 5km past our home. I am so grateful to have taken advantage of exploring the world before all of this happened. During the height of the pandemic, I became more aware of these privileges and I began to reflect upon my life experiences pre-covid. There were many challenges I went through during this time, but the most predominant was not being able to go home and visit family and friends of my own will. I find it very challenging not to think about traveling when it's who you are at heart. Currently, my mindset around travel has changed from a global approach to more domestic and internal. I now find myself wanting to explore my own backyard more, and so far I'm glad to say I have been pleasantly surprised by the local hidden gems and sights that I never knew were always around me. Before, when my negative feelings would arise, I tended to use various forms of distractions and escapism to alleviate my emotions.; whether it was hanging out with friends, meeting new people, or going back home for a month or so. However, due to the rapidly changing restrictions and lockdown, I had to find new coping mechanisms which allowed me to acknowledge these feelings and to “deal” with them head-on. When the world fully re-opens again or reaches a “COVID normal,” I know now I am much better equipped to navigate my emotions and thoughts in a healthier way. It’ll be then when I head home for a little bit to see my family and then make a stop in Hawaii, or stop by a Polynesian country like Vanuatu, Samoa, or even Fiji (lol). Personally, during this pandemic, I have seen how fragile life can be, even more so as a nursing student and working in hospitals. Now more than ever, I believe it's essential to live the life that God has called you to live and to pursue those passions that God has put in your heart and see them through. For me, this is nursing and travelling. Life is too short to work only to live. If you pursue that very thing that is in your bones, then you will always have what you need to move forward. I am not saying that you should not work because it will definitely require income to support your goals and dreams, but once you’re there…. You’re there! I've always been aware of this privilege to travel as an African-American woman, as I had never traveled until the age of 24. I’m also the first in my family to do so. To live, study, and work out of the country. In saying that, I hope that the pandemic helped people appreciate traveling and how blessed we’re to even do so. The most significant aspect I've taken away from being restricted to my home has been to slow down and look around at what I already have. I get so consumed sometimes with tomorrow that I often forget about enjoying today. The pandemic really showed me that each day and each moment is esstienal to appreciate and that there is beauty surrounding each day if you really look for it. Knowing what I know now, I value life more, and with that, I am becoming a stronger, happier, and more confident person and woman because of it!

~ Sarah Brown ~

California, USA

Benthe Van Hapert ~  Amsterdam, Netherlands

I never realized how much I took traveling for granted until the pandemic hit the world. In the summer of 2019, I came home after a year of living in Australia. My initial plan was to return home to the Netherlands for 2-3 months before heading back to Oz for a more extended period of time. Once I got back to family and friends, I got way too comfortable and felt like staying there just a little bit longer then planned. At the time, I assumed I could just fly back to Australia whenever I wanted, so I thought to myself, why not wait a little? Once the new reality hit, I was quickly faced with the question of when Australia will re-open (2+ years later) and under what conditions, as Australia is one of the strictest countries in the world in terms of border control. One big challenge for me was being stuck at home with my roommates. We got along well, but during the first few months of the lockdown, we saw each other way too much! We quickly started to get annoyed with every little thing about each other until the point where we clashed! We're on good terms now, but I have since moved into my own studio, and i'm very happy with that outcome too :). Another huge challenge was studying from home. It was an incredibly stressful Master's program, so I barely left my house, and I began to associate my home with the study-related stress, which wasn't good for me. The moment I decided to spread out the program and study at my own pace, it quickly became a huge relief for myself and my mental health :). I believe this situation was a perfect chance (or, for some, a necessity) to reflect on our work/life balance and what we want to have as our long-term goals. To me, it's more important to find a job that actually satisfies you over choosing just financial security. Many people who lost their jobs in this crisis thought they had a full-proof plan with their occupation. I know someone who even worked as a nurse in a hospital; she lost her job a few years before covid due to government budget cuts and decided to retrain as a flight attendant but lost her job again during the pandemic due to that crisis. It's hard to predict how “secure” jobs really are nowadays. I believe it's essential for people to start considering what they want and need out of their life and to start dedicating themselves to achieving that. It's important to be flexible and creative in these uncertain times; I know that I will be more aware of what makes me happy after this, and I will enjoy what I currently have even more because of it!

~ Benthe Van Hapert ~

Amsterdam, Netherlands

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