I often hear people say that they love to travel. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in China and have already experienced a culture different from Western culture, but I never saw the appeal – or rather the benefit – of traveling. I couldn’t understand how escaping one’s own life to find meaning in a stranger’s life could benefit the traveler once he or she returns home. Interestingly enough, through a series of events, I found myself solo-traveling in Thailand for the past two months. My experiences were far from what my biases predicted.
I was an inexperienced, dependent girl from Montreal when I chose to make a change. In the summer of 2011, I made the decision to work abroad on a cruise ship as a Seasonal Youth Counselor. When I arrived onboard the Norwegian Pearl in Seattle, I quickly realized that my lodgings consisted of three roommates living in a small room and food that was so greasy it looked like it came right out of the oil tank at the bottom of the ship. It was a new, fast-paced life that involved lots of energy and constant awareness. I came into this novel environment, having no prior ship-life experience and knowing no one. Originally, when I applied for the job, I assumed I would be ready to step outside of my box and tread water in the real world. I thought that this job would give me the independence that I needed in my life, but I was very wrong. Many co-workers immediately labeled me as the “weird new girl.” I received no eye contact, no friends, and rare enjoyments. (more…)