”Travel broadens the mind”
is a quote that you are all probably familiar with. As far as I know it has been translated to almost all known languages. And the reason for this is simple: it’s true.
I started my mind-broadening travels already as a teenager when I moved to Brighton, England for one summer to learn English. That trip kindled my never-ending love for England, English culture, English language and also for traveling, meeting new people and learning about life from different perspectives. Because each person you meet sees life a little bit differently, even if they come from the same country as you.
I have discovered that even though each country has its own culture, and each culture has its own habits and traditions, which largely define the values we live our lives by, in the end we human beings are all similar in so many ways.
We all have the basic needs and emotions, even if we differ culturally; showing those emotions publicly is not considered appropriate for some of us, whereas the person next to us might be completely fine with expressing joy or sadness in front of other people.
There are a lot of people who unfortunately think that their race and way of living life is the only “right” way to exist. But even these people tend to change this ridiculous perspective when they are exposed to new people and culture either through traveling or by getting to know the refugee family living next door.
We can get along with people who think completely differently if we just look beyond the differences and concentrate on what all we have in common. Fundamentally we all want piece, food and love around us, right? Even terrorists commit horrific acts because they’ve been brainwashed to think that by doing so they will reach exactly those things.
And NO, I am not saying that I in any way understand or accept their actions or way of thinking. I almost lost a friend in the Turku terrorist attack a year ago and I’d much rather watch that idiot die a painful death than let him spend his sentence in the 2-star hotel that we call prison in Finland.
Returning to the subject of normal people and cultural differences: At the end of the day what we all need to understand is that everyone’s entitled to think differently. We can argue all we want but if you want to make your life a bit easier, learn to understand and accept that we are ALL different.
I’m a feminist who puts a lot of effort into the way I look but I don’t think the feminist who thinks looks are not important is any less a feminist because we disagree on superficial issues. At the same time someone having a strictly traditional wedding isn’t any worse a wedding than the one that breaks most traditions.
Differences in opinions and views of life bring so much spice and colour to our mundane living that we don’t even understand how shit life would be without these differences. What would we gossip about if we all agreed about everything?
I have met plenty of interesting people on my travels. By listening to their stories I have also gotten to understand that we are all here trying to get through life as best we can. It was on that first trip to Brighton where I met a person who instantly became, and still today is one of the most important people in my life.
We both participated on the same language course and didn’t hang out in the same group in the beginning. But every now and then we would bump into each other strolling on the beach in the evening or hanging out on the Brighton Pier amusement park.
We really hit it off at the end of the trip when we visited Disneyland in Paris. You know the ”click”-moment that you get with some people. The moment when you realize this person feels easier and more natural than average to be around: you don’t need to pretend or consider what you say before saying it, and they understand what you mean from half a sentence.
In the end we are quite different: she’s quite mellow, relaxed and sees positive in everything and everyone. She has an incredible amount of patience even when people around her fall apart. I, on the other hand, am the loud and crazy emotional wreck who ends up sitting on the ground in the middle of Piccadilly Circus screaming her head off about how much she hates everything and everyone because her birthday party wasn’t a perfect success (OK, I was 21 then, I’ve grown since…).
This particular friend has seen me at my worst, a state that very, very few people on this planet have witnessed. And despite it all she still answers my messages and agrees to meet me. And then there are some things that are larger than life for both of us and which unite us: we both have an inexplicable love affair with England: the country draws us both towards it and it has often been the place where we end up meeting.
Even though we don’t see each other as often as we would like our friendship is one of those kind that doesn’t fade with time: even if it has been 5 years since the last time we met, it’s like no time has passed when we sit down for a drink. It resembles a little therapy session when we get together:
Usually when we meet up, the first thing to discuss is the situation in the world and how we would solve everything. It’s an unfathomable thing that we are not running this world because, seriously, there would be no problems if we did! I consider myself extreeemely lucky to call her a friend.
Another priceless friendship I formed in Slovakia: we were hiring and the new person was required to speak Finnish so I was called up to check if the applicant really did speak Finnish. In the interview room I saw a small, extremely beautiful girl who was visibly nervous (it later transpired that she was actually just hungover, lol!). I talked to her in Finnish a bit and, as she always does, she charmed me completely. So she was hired.
I was known in Bratislava as the loud and crazy Finn and my behaviour wasn’t any different at the office. Turns out that my constant swearing at the computer and at my e-mails scared our new team member at first and she even refused to come to lunch with us all. But somehow we got talking and it was love at first sight, again.
She is to this day one of the most precious things in my life. She understands me on a level that nobody else on this planet does and she’s the actual only person in my life to whom I can tell absolutely anything because she never judges. We’re both such disaster artists that we know how to support each other during tough times and laugh together at our misfortunes.
Friends are the salt of my life, how tasteless would everything be without them! And my particular group of friends, whose loyalty and presence I never need to question, are the salt, pepper and chili that make my life the 5-star experience that it is! ♥♥♥♥