The Desire to Travel – where did it all begin?

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.

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my exchange partner Lucia and I at her grandparents’ house in Sevilla, 2007

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.

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Visiting my Madrid family 4 years later, 2011

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.

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