You could say I have always had a desire to see the world…considering my parents tossed me on a flight to India when I was three months old, I was ‘bitten’ by the travel bug early!
Growing up in Canada to an Indian family, and being surrounded by primarily European friends, I have always been immersed in a variety of cultures. Fortunately for me, my parents also extended biannual trips to visit the family in India to include a short Europe trip since (at the time) a European stopover was mandatory.
However, I always felt that I would rather live in a country like a local rather than just as a tourist. But how could I go about doing this as a kid??
In Canada, learning French in school is mandatory, and when I was 13 I watched my older sister complete a 3-month high school exchange program to France. I immediately decided that I was also going to do this, but I was tired of learning French for all those years and decided I’d rather learn something else. At my school, you could switch languages after grade 9, so naturally I began planning the day I joined grade 9 and found this out.
I convinced my parents that after learning Spanish for one semester, I would be capable of completing the same exchange program – with the same benefit of learning a language – but to Spain. To this day I’m not sure how or why my parents agreed to this, but one month after turning 16, and after learning Spanish for 4 months (meaning, obviously, that I had a perfect grasp of the days of the week, months of the year, colours, and vaguely how to use a future tense), I moved to Madrid to live with a family and attend high school for three months.
I’m happy to say that I have never looked back. That opportunity opened my eyes to the overseas possibilities available to anyone who
cares dares to look for them.
So far, these possibilities have led me back to Spain for a 1-month study placement, to a 6-month university exchange in Melbourne (Australia), to a 1-year work placement in Windhoek (Namibia), and to a Master’s Degree in Europe where I lived in three countries. Then, there are all the incredible places I was able to visit as a result of these adventures.
I guess you can really blame most of this on my sister! And by blame, I mean thank from the bottom of my heart.