2017 held a lot of great moments for me, but it also held a few not-so-great moments, too. Here is the This Battered Suitcase 2017 review: the good, the bad, and the oh so very ugly.
AdviceStoriesWriting and Blogging
It’s one of the most frequently asked questions I get via email, comments, and messages across social media: how do I do what you do? And by what I do, I assume people mean…
The last time I saw you, we hugged goodbye at the airport. It was cold outside, a dark November morning. The air felt sharp in my lungs, like if I breathed in…
Zanzibar sunset. Photo by Helen It has been exactly 56 days since I last posted on this blog. 56 days! The longest I have ever gone without posting on This Battered Suitcase.…
I met Ai almost exactly one year after I’d moved to Japan. I’m getting ahead of myself, though – I need to go back to the beginning.
In my early 20s, I was addicted to travelling; I had perpetually itchy feet. Travelling had me in its grasp, my wanderlust an uncontrolled entity. And like most addictions, I needed more money to sustain it. At twenty-four years old and jobless, my savings fast running out, I needed to start making money to support my habit. It only made sense that I’d look for a job in a different country; it seemed, in my mind, to be killing two birds with one stone. Soon I was looking up international jobs, researching visas, investigating how much I’d need for the plane ticket. I then did what seemingly every other twenty-something English-speaker with a university degree but no idea how to use it does: I decided to teach English abroad. It was relatively easy to find a job online, and after an interview and a grammar test, it was confirmed. I was going to be a teacher in Japan.
I went to South America because of my sister. She went to South America because of a bottle of mezcal.
Wait. Let me back up. At 22 years old, I took my first long-term solo trip around Europe. That led to years of solo travel and living abroad, including a year travelling through Asia. In that year, I’d met another backpacker who became my boyfriend. When we broke up, I felt totally lost; we had made all of these grand plans together, and suddenly I was stuck in a Winnipeg winter trying to save my pennies as a bartender. I had no idea what to do next.
“You should go to South America, you’d love it,” my big sister Zalie said to me the night I got dumped, as if it was the natural next step. And just like that, a seed was planted, a fire lit. Within five months of that conversation, she was dropping me off at the airport to fly to Belize, where I’d start a nine-month journey through Central and South America.
People often ask me where I got the confidence, the bravery, or the idea to travel the world on my own.
“Easy,” I say to them. “I simply followed in my sister’s footsteps.”