I think one of my favorite things about rowing is that whenever you mess up a stroke, you immediately get to take another one, a better one. The consistent repetition forces you learn to move on quickly and effectively; you learn to let it go and focus on the next one. There’s no time to beat yourself up over your failures or get mad about other people’s mistakes. It’s just you, your crew, your shell and oars, and 2,000 meters of water. There’s no looking back.
It’s the day after Christmas, and I’m in Myanmar exploring a bustling market next to yet another pagoda on Inle Lake. The smells of mohinga and burning incenses fill the air while colourful longyis, shiny jewellery, and a few random crowns made out of teeth keep my eyes busy with curiosity. Though utterly exhausted from two days of hiking through the countryside of Shan State compounded by four and a half months of intense travel, I’m riding a high from the past few days filled with laughter, holiday cheer, friendship, beautiful scenery, and tons of delicious food and feel like nothing can bring me down.
Yesterday morning we made our way to the food market, Balti Jamma Turg, in Tallinn for some street food and free time before our bus to Riga that afternoon. I mostly just relaxed with some coffee while the rest of the gang wandered off to do their own thing. But I did get to indulge in some Uzbek food for lunch, which was delicious.
A little over a year ago, the chilly fall weekend before Halloween, I made my first international solo trip. Sure, I had travelled solo within the United States many times and gone abroad a number of times with family or friends. I had even moved abroad - but I had an almost instantaneous support system thanks to my university and the nature of student life. Even with these past travel experiences, at that time even the prospect of travelling alone to a foreign country where I knew no one and didn't speak the language seemed absolutely ridiculous. I remember getting off the plane in Luxembourg City, feeling anxious about navigating the bus to the city-centre, where I would then get the train to Esh-sur-Alzette to meet my AirB&B host. What if I can't figure out how to buy a ticket? What if I miss my stop? What if the bus just doesn't show up? What if I get on the wrong train? What if my AirB&B host doesn't show? I was practically sweating I was so nervous.
Imagine. You’re in Paris for the first time after dreaming of visiting the City of Lights for over a decade. Your excitement is overwhelming – crepes, the Eiffel Tower, cheese, the Louvre, Versailles, Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, and the countless other sites and experiences of Paris are at your beckon call. Oh and the wine. Can’t forget the wine. You are even qualified for free entry to most places because you’re under 25 and an EU resident so budget be damned, the city is yours for two full days. Nothing can stop you.