I am a Danish-born Somali, and my entire life has been about packing suitcases and boxes and having to start over…Don’t believe me? My first passport photo was taken before I had the motor skills to hold myself up, so there were pillows placed around baby me, to make it do what it do. I’m a, what is that buzz-word again?… that’s right a TCK (I really don’t like that term… so generic and overused). It doesn’t really explain the fact that I’m part of one of the largest diasporas in the world, or go into the complexities that come with never having any experience with your ethnic homeland.
When millenials speak of being a TCK they also miss out on the life values and skills that you get. How easy it is for one to understand different cultures (no culture shock over here) or how you get languages confused in your head (maybe it’s a combination of age and being dropped on my head as a baby but this is becoming a serious problem for me). It doesn’t emphasise how adaptable you are to changing circumstances or how you live and view life differently. It’s just an oversimplification. But I digress…
It breaks my heart when I hear someone say “OMG so I went to *insert low/middle income country here* for a month, and it was so beautiful”…which I then proceed to ask if they went to see this or that and they respond with something about a beach front hotel and going to one historical site. We all travel differently but like come on people just let loose, you will not get kidnapped as long as you do pre-research before leaving about things and places to avoid and you act with a bit of common sense. If you truly immersed yourself in your travel experience I promise you, you could take away such important life lessons (pinky swear 🙄).
We live in societies that are increasingly becoming more mixed. Our friends are from different places, of different religions but I think that a lot of us get stuck in a western bubble. Not all countries share our lifestyles, share our humour… a lot of people wouldn’t consider McDonald’s food that should be consumed (I completely agree with that sentiment) and millennials in other countries aren’t all relatively well-off individuals who speak English, worship Beyoncé and celebrate dating culture. So here are some things that I have learnt from countries that I have been lucky to both live in and visit.
- Appreciate what you have:
A lot of places that I have been are also some of the poorest places in the world (socioeconomically speaking), however when you meet people who have the bare minimum and still appreciate every day they are given and have such heart and love of life, it really makes you reflect on the abundance that we wade through everyday and still complain about. Being rich is a lot more than the dollar.
- It’s not about where you end up, it’s the journey
There have been countless times where cars have broken down on road trips, or that flights have been delayed. Times when I have been following an itinerary but then the course of fate intervened and I have ended up at some remote breathtaking place. Many times in life we are tunnel-visioned and we want to get to our end goal, sometimes we do and other times we don’t. However more importantly we never sit back to look at how far we’ve come and appreciate the little things… I know that’s such a cliché but you deep down you get me. The journey is always the best part.
- We’re all different and we need to respect differences
It’s that simple. Expecting the countries we visit to have the same culture or customs as we do back home is a very ignorant way to enter a new setting or to live your life…not to mention how rude it is to dismiss an entire population because we are all on a high horse being from such ‘forward thinking countries‘ (isn’t Trump still a candidate for presidency). We need to be aware that the way we live life is different for everyone. There is no right or wrong way and we all differ, but there is always something beautiful we can learn from other people about the world and ourselves.
- We are more alike than we can imagine
We all have dreams, wants, needs. We all love and grieve. We mourn and celebrate. Human nature is within us all. As naïve as it sounds, looking past our differences will reveal that our skeletons are all the same. There are people that I have come to meet over the years that I have just naturally clicked with as if we’ve known each other for years, except on paper we are worlds apart.
- We’re more concerned about the tweet or the photo-op
I feel like there is a difference between going on a holiday and travelling; between being a tourist and an explorer. We do it for the ‘Gram right?! As long as we can update the world on how we’re stunting on everyone, and it is geo-tagged, we are good. There isn’t a right or a wrong way to do it I guess, but what a waste. Every country has a history and layers to it that would blow your mind. But sadly we’re all to invested in being able to say “I’ve been to _____” than investing in personal growth.
Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Life is fleeting and we don’t get do-overs so why not be a generation that is conducive to bettering the world through understanding and love (Oh good God I really am an overly-nauseating optimist). Basically, just try to be less ignorant and more open-minded. You do not know everything, and your way of life isn’t the blueprint, it’s just like your fingerprint… utterly useless to someone else.
“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” – Gustave Flaubert