When I was seven, I was enamored with a book series in my school library. There was a whole shelf of tiny yellow-bound books that detailed an adventure, and every book was a different destination. They were old – maybe from the 60s or 70s? – but I loved them. I was just a little kid living in Nova Scotia, and I had already moved three times from the west coast of Canada to the prairies and then out to the east coast. When you’re a military brat, you get used to having a new home in a new city every couple years. The people in these books were doing the same thing, except they were doing way cooler stuff and living in cooler places than a military base in Nova Scotia. They went to Hawaii and Peru and China and other places I had never heard of. I devoured those books. I read every book in the series in two weeks. No small feat when you’re seven!
I’m often asked where my wanderlust came from. In my adult life, I seem to throw everything out the window and start over about every four or five years. After I finished high school, I moved away to the “big” city in my province to go to university. After five years and graduating, I moved across Canada to Vancouver. After a few years building my life and career in Vancouver, my boyfriend at the time and I decided to move to Vancouver Island and start a new life there. That didn’t work out, and I found myself in Vancouver again. After a few more years, I decided to move to Roatan and become a dive instructor. I did that for four years, then I decided to move to Japan and teach English. I can stay here for three years, or an absolute max of five if I somehow end up being spectacular at my job. Then I have to go somewhere else. I’m already scheming about what’s next. I’ve got a serious case of expat wanderlust. (I’m not much for the constant-travel type of wanderlust…props to you guys!)
Can I take the easy way out and just blame it on being in a military family and being forced to uproot my (albeit tiny) life every few years to a new place as a child? Probably not. My brother moved around with me the same amount, and he couldn’t be more different than me in that department. He rarely travels outside of the province, he went to college while still living at home, and his big ‘grown-up’ move was to a town 45 minutes from my parents’ place and he frequently comes back for the weekend. And you know what? That dude is happier than a clam. He has a house, he has a good job that he likes, he’s got everything he needs there. He’s laid-back, super easygoing and has a way better constitution and temperament to travel or live an expat life than I do, yet he stays home and here I am flailing my way through countless locations over the years.
I don’t know why some people are born with itchy feet. All I know is that I have them, and when I think about it I can’t picture myself living in Canada with an office job again and paying too much rent on a shitty 1960s walk-up studio apartment again. If I’m going to live in a shitty apartment it’s gonna have to be somewhere new in the world for me to explore and learn and grow. I have learned new languages, nuances, cultures and customs. I have networks of connections I’ve made that spread to every single corner of the world now.
I think it’s an insatiable curiosity about the world that sparks wanderlust in people. I wanted to learn how to scuba dive (and be really good at it) and I wanted to learn Spanish and creole so I moved to Roatan. I wanted to keep teaching but in a different way and use skills that I had from taking Linguistics at university, and I wanted to revive my Japanese so I moved to Japan. I am not picking places on a map with my eyes closed. I think to truly understand a place you need to live there, and live like a local (not like a tourist). When you can move easily in that place, knowing the language, customs, and locations. That’s when that curiosity gets satisfied.
Candice Walsh says
Tooooo relatable. Been home for three months. It’s enough!
Rika - Cubicle Throwdown says
Definitely! Three months was more than enough for me!
Amanda Walkins says
Girl, you are not flailing anywhere. Keep living the dream, because many people will only dream of doing what you have the guts to actually do! Wanderlust for the win <3
Rika - Cubicle Throwdown says
Yeahhhhh! Thanks chica 🙂