The Travelling Self: Margaret Johnson – IJGD, Gemany participant

The Travelling Self: Margaret Johnson – IJGD, Gemany participant

The world is magical and if you look properly, there is magic happening everywhere around you. The Land of the West has always seemed mystical and untouchable to me. It is this mystical element that drew me towards it.

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When you travel to a new land, you are entering a new world, a world which is completely unknown to you. You might have read stories about it, but when you are physically present there, it’s a whole new ball game.

The shift within me began when I came to know that I would be coming to Berlin. I still remember the day when the news came ringing on my phone. Just another day, about to wrap-up and go home, when FSL-India’s number flashed on my phone. I picked up the call and couldn’t believe what I was listening to. I was selected by FSL-India’s partner IJGD to go to Germany. A life-changing moment.

 And then began a series of calls and sharing the news, but I couldn’t believe it, still. I was waiting to get home and do the happy dance and feel the happiness run through my body. I couldn’t have been more thankful for such a brilliant opportunity to come along and I am so grateful to FSL-India for making this happen.

 It was then that I started picturing myself in a foreign land, walking on foreign roads, speaking a foreign language, part of me was foreign to me.

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Have you had moments, when you wake up and you know that everything is going to be amazing and you look forward to the events of the day? That’s exactly how I felt for the days to come. I felt I found my calling.

The time flew by, the goodbyes, the break-up, the farewell and my kickass birthday celebration. I think ’26’ is my year. The year of new beginnings, new travels, new people and definitely a new ‘Me’.

The excitement that I had was beyond words, but a part of me was scared too. Scared about the new places, the language, would I be able to make new friends? So many thoughts in the head and also the fear of ‘What if I don’t make the most of it?’ I have just one year, would I want to go back or find something meaningful here. ‘Indecisive, very indecisive!!’

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Landing in a foreign land, everything so neat and organized, I was finally here, breathing the fresh air, the slight chill reaching parts of my body, people speaking a completely different language. Excitement took a back seat and fright dawned on me. A new house, new family who cooked food as a welcome gesture, the wine bottle that was popped, the constant translation that took place in the middle of the conversations. I felt a little better, knowing that I had walked into a family who are really sweet and welcoming. The cold is something I was getting familiar with. Days went by, got to know the other volunteers a little more, their background, their ideologies, their stories.

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I associate traveling with multiple experiences. It’s not just going and seeing new places, it’s about the journey itself. Taking the subway to a completely new place, getting off somewhere that looks interesting, in that process losing your way back home and the fear that you are lost in the middle of nowhere and nobody would know where you are, it’s a complete package.

 But what fascinates me the most are the people, the culture, the tradition, the language. It’s a blend of everything. Living in a new country, you start to understand the system, the mentality, the family structures, the value given to each thing around you. The climatic condition is the first thing that needs getting used to, especially if you come from a warmer country. You would miss the sun like never before. But sometimes, a foreign land can also bring in the feeling of loneliness and alienation. The feeling that you are not able to express yourself or the feeling of being lost. But as time goes by, you start to recognize the system and you start feeling like you belong there.

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Being in Europe also gives a lot of opportunities to travel to other places I guess that’s the best part of it all. Every place has its own charm and beauty and it just leaves you spellbound. Traveling alone is an experience in itself. Knowing that you will have to find your way on your own is quite overwhelming but at the same time, it leaves you with such an immense sense of independence that you feel great to have accomplished something. What I love most about new places and new people is that it gives you a chance every time to be different, to be yourself, without being judged for who you are.

I can’t wait to explore more of this mystical land and I am looking forward to many more travels in store. Many thanks, FSL-India!

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