Okay, so Finding Home plays into Finding Community in a lot of ways, and though I can’t emphasize enough how valuable that community is, sometimes you get lucky and your adventure goes one step further. You find a new home. (I will caveat that sometimes the home comes first and then the community, like when you make a planned move to somewhere new!)
I’m incredibly fortunate to call 3 places in this world home. The U.S., where I grew up, Croatia, where I found family, and Australia, where I found soulmates. Each one of these three places, and the people there, mean more to me than anything in the entire world. Yes, the entire world. I know that’s a big statement. And don’t get me wrong, I’m a sucker for my comfy tie dye poncho and my extra comfy shaped-perfectly-to-my-head pillow! And I especially treasure items that have been on my adventures with me. But the more I travel the more I realize what I truly end up treasuring the most are the people I meet and the relationships I build (I think there might be a pattern starting to form in these posts…).
In the U.S., I have my foundation, my rocks, my very real “you can always go home” sanctuary. I’ll go deeper into that in a soon-to-come post, stay tuned! I ended up in Zadar, Croatia completely unexpectedly. I had never even thought about visiting Croatia during my time in Europe, but what I had thought about was working in a hostel. I knew before I left that after 90 days in the Schengen Area I would have to leave for 90 days. My original plan had been to find work in England, but on my last day in Amsterdam (round 1 that is!) I started a conversation with a complete stranger that changed the entire course of the rest of my life. That is it’s whole own story, but one conversation, one Skype interview and 5 months later (Croatia is a beautiful seasonal travel location), and I landed in Zadar, Croatia to start work at the Drunken Monkey Hostel (it’s now called the Mellow Monkey, sorry fam but the old title will last as long in my mind as it will on my liver).
The experience of working in a hostel is unlike anything else in the world. It was one of the best experiences of my entire life. It didn’t take long for my soul to find a home in this beautiful city full of kind and warm people and an environment that can only be described as magical. That home at first was made up of a family of my Croatian coworkers and boss, my English and Canadian bosses and my fellow volunteer backpackers from all over the world. And then just a few short weeks after that it wasn’t just my immediate circle, it was the bartender down at our local beach bar, it was the people I’d met through my coworkers turned friends, it was the language that I was slowly integrating into my own, and it was the streets of the city that with every day became more and more familiar, more and more my own.
Fast forward a little while to landing in Perth, Australia. Now this home, or rather the people that made this home, didn’t come as quickly as the ones in Croatia. (Though it’s worth noting that the family I lived with during my time there welcomed me into their home and family from the second I arrived). I’ve always felt a kinship with Australia. It was where I did my study abroad, it was where I’d always wanted to visit, and now it was where I was going to call home for the next two years. In looking back, I think that sense of kinship might have been the universe guiding me to this group of people who were out there just waiting for me to find. I spent two years surrounded by a group of people that accepted me for exactly who I was, didn’t question this self I’d slowly been finding in my last 2 years of travel, and most importantly, were just as curious about the world and our place in it as I was. I could probably write a novel on my time in Australia, but my hope is that your biggest take-away from these stories is that as scary as it might be to leave what you call home, there’s a chance that somewhere else in the world, some other people in the world, are there waiting for you to call them home too.
If you want to learn more about my experiences in the individual places I’ve traveled, subscribe to my email list and stay tuned for updates! And if you are thinking about traveling to Europe for longer than 90 days, click the link above titled Schengen Area to learn invaluable information about how you can travel within and outside of those countries!