Traveling is both exhilarating and heartbreaking, sometimes at the same time. During the two weeks in Brazil, my longst trip to date, I encountered some of the less than romantic side effects of spending significant time in a foreign country.
Food tastes differerent. Deliciously so, but after while you begin to crave what you remember from home. For me, I missed my husband's egg and cheddar cheese spread sandwichs on whole wheat toast.
Personal space, at least in Brazil, is almot non-existent. For the most part, this is actually a pleasant thing. You begin to feel very loved when every person you meet kisses your cheek and asks you countless questions about your life and country. Smiles are directed your way along with food, drink, and more food. You begin to feel like you may actually be an interesting person after all. However, after 9 days or so, you begin to crave that space and ability to simply "zone out" if you wish. That is very dificult in a country where everyone you meet wants to know your name.
Homesickness. The kind of homesickness that hits on Father's Day, and the day of your anniversary, and late at night in your hotel room when the Internet connection is down and so the only interaction you have is with the room service menu which is written in....Portughese. And besides...after the endless gracious offers of food, it's difficult to even glance at a room service menu. Put simply, you miss your family. Your home. Your dog. Homesickness.
Airports. Even after an amazing trip, the 23 hours spent in airports and on airplanes is less than pleasant. Enough about this one. Flying is never fun.
So, why travel? With all of the discomforts, is it even worth it?
Those matters become trivial when you realize that you look at your whole life diferently after a trip to another country. The school systems in Brazil are filled to the brim with passionate, hard-working teachers and artistic, loving, hopeful students. In many public schools, they are forced to make do with so little. When an overhead is a luxury in a Brazilian classroom, it makes me feel like my school won the lottery. Every day.
Not to mention, a little homesickness and living out of a suitcase pales in comaprison to the human relationships built during travel. Every personal quality of yourself and the people around you is amplified. This makes for strong relationships in short periods of time. There are some students that have aleady kept in touch through email and facebook, and I look forward to keeping a strong relationship with my host teacher as well. I also made some great friends in my travel cohort. There is no better time to bond with someone than when you are so far away that every relationship instantly feels like a friendship.
I know travel is worth it when I realize that I am a different person stepping off the plane than I was when I walked on.