I am an introvert. When I was a child and a teenager I was extremely shy. If I didn’t absolutely have to, I wouldn’t say a word to anyone except closest friends and family. Any form of public speaking was an absolute nightmare. Over the years, as I gained experiences, the shyness has regressed, but the introversion stayed. I have learned to accept it as a part of who I am. It has taken me a long time to realise that introversion is not a bad thing. It is not better or worse than extraversion, simply different.
On the other hand, I am a travel addict. Travelling is often represented as requiring an outgoing personality, and the typical backpacker is someone who thrives in social situations and isn’t afraid to approach people. In short, he is an extrovert. Fortunately, no one ever explained this requirement to the wanderlust that infected me already at a very young age.
Some of my earliest memories are of family holidays with my parents and my sister. We often went to the United States. The beaches of Florida, visits at Disney World, and a week-long stay at a horse ranch in Texas were absolute highlights of my childhood. These experiences sparked a life-long obsession with exploring the world that makes me jump at every chance to go travelling. Luckily my hometown of Hamburg, Germany, is not the worst place to be when the wanderlust hits you. The comparatively small size of Europe make trips to other countries easy and affordable, while the cultural diversity ensures you never run out of interesting places to visit.
I have also seized every opportunity to go abroad. Australia has become a second home to me. My aunt lives there, and when I was 17 she and her Australian husband took me in for half a year and gave me the chance to visit an Australian High School. After this first stay down under, I was hopelessly in love with the country. Until today I have been back three more times, including one six-months working holiday in 2011 and one semester as an exchange student at Macquarie University in Sydney in 2013.
If you had ever told my teenage self I would one day backpack a foreign country all on my own, I would have declared you crazy, but there I was. Through travel, I have achieved things I would never have thought myself capable of. It taught me that you can explore the world whether you are an introvert or not. The challenges you face may be different. The experiences may be different. But then, they are different for every single one of us. That’s what makes them so special. And that’s why I can’t wait for the next opportunity to escape my current nine-to-five job and embrace the nomadic life once more.