The beginning of the year I spent chilling in and travelling around Southeast Asia, namely Thailand, Bali and Japan. The idea was to remove myself from constantly jetting around, packing and unpacking and actually hanging out in a place for a while. Setting up a temporary base. Making deeper connections. Having go-to places and an actual routine. But then again, why is settling down so bloody hard?
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Nomad Life vs Settled Life
For the past four years I have been living on the road. No set base, no definite plans and pretty much uprooted. I thought it was heaven, meant to be for an introvert like me. I could discover new places on a whim, mingle with people when I felt like it or withdraw as much as I wanted (which is most of the time). But I was also fooling myself.
You see, nothing really lasts forever, nor do feelings and convictions. I was so convinced that I was cut out for an indeterminate nomadic life. I can do this. But well, no. It makes having a solid business impossible. It leads to shallow relationships or at least ones that are just heartbreaking because of the constant goodbyes.
A while ago I saw a video on why having a home feels so nice. Why decorating it in your own style and making it yours is important for self identity. Turns out one way to feel uprooted is the lack of personal “artifacts” that remind you of who you are (or like to be). It was a bold statement but I think inherently true.
Read this too: How to Infuse Your Room with Wanderlust
Looking back on the times I spent abroad during my university years, that’s exactly what I did to feel comfortable in my temporary four walls. I refused to resign to a generic room.
Even though the first couple of days I told myself I wouldn’t spend any money on decorating or indulge in “nesting”, it always overcame me with force. I ended up at IKEA. Never a good idea for small budgets. Totally worth it though. It made me happy. I got plenty of compliments. I felt home.
Bulgaria – A Temporary Fix
When I visited Thailand and Bali, I came prepared with my own decorations, knowing me. And then I decided to move to Sofia, Bulgaria. Half of my suitcase was packed with plates, kitchen towels, jewellery hangers and other totally impractical items. I wanted to set up base for real this time. This was gonna be it!
Read this too: My Life in Southeast Asia – Recap
Like a whirlwind I dropped my suitcase at my new (and ridiculously huge and amazing) apartment. I wiped all surfaces, I neatly placed my own stuff everywhere, I made it mine. I even brought coasters and fridge magnets! I was super dedicated and decided I would find my own favourite restaurant, have a typical evening walking path and would start cooking my own meals again.
I already had friends in Sofia who kinda persuaded me to make the move but with visa situations, we didn’t sadly spend all that much time together. I did go on a Bulgarian roadtrip adventure though. And I was convinced I was gonna stay but then.
“Well, that didn’t last long,” were my thoughts when a contract fluttered in after not even a week of interviews and negotiations. My move to Sofia had only been two weeks past, and now I had snatched a short term photographer gig at an international summer school in England. And here I was thinking I would be able to settle down for a bit. No such luck. Welcome to my life!
Did you know? You can buy some of my photos as prints
England – Hogwarts Life
I wasn’t sad about it, of course. I had already started to get itchy feet at the mere thought of staying put but at the same time, I just wanted to not change scenery every so often. What I loved about England is that A) it’s one of my favourite countries. B) I had my own room on school grounds that looked like out of Hogwarts and Hanny & Nanni. And C) I had a paying temp job.
Why did I feel so much out of place though? I absolutely love taking photos and being paid to do just that and having enough free time to roam the grounds and work on my blog was ideal. I even got to go on day trips to London, Windsor, Bath and Bournemouth. (Check my saved IG stories.)
Video: Hermione Returns to Hogwarts
What I really lacked however, was a community. Again, everyone lovely person I met during that time would leave shortly after and so would I. Not the best way to try to sprout some roots. Plus, my lifestyle gave rise to plenty of questions and all I want at this point is to hang with people who just ‘get it’ and don’t need an entire background history.
You can’t imagine how tedious that get when you are asked “What do you do? How does it work? How much money do you make? How can I do it too?” on the daily. (also, try asking anyone you meet that question and see what happens. It’s just not courteous. I get the curiosity and would have felt the same way 10 years ago but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating.)
Southeast Asia – Back to Square One
Maybe it was a combination of feeling lonely, a lack of fellow digital nomads and the wonderful summer weather, but I decided I would return to Bali and Thailand. I can’t say it’s the wonderful countries, culture and nature I yearned for. Because I honestly didn’t see ALL that much and didn’t stay long enough. Though they were incentives.
No, I wanted that community back. And I wanted to go on more exploration tours to truly be able to say how much I liked the countries for their own sake. I know this comes from a privileged backround to be able to just live anywhere but I am fully grateful for it. And I hustled like crazy to get here and be able to do exactly that.
So what next? Well, I’ve been in Bali for a month now and can say that though it has grown on me, I still don’t see a future here. I’ve got a few ideas but for now, I am just working on growing my blog. We currently have 30K monthly views, which is bonkers to me. Absolutely amazing!
So I am trying to put even more off the grid guides for amazing photo spots out there for you. Check out my Bali guides on temples, waterfalls and food, for instance. Maybe in a few months I have more of a direction?
Until then, I’d like to know where in the world you have found a home and why?
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