Many ways to Rome: How traveling helps me rediscover my purpose🧳
On being lost and found
“Not all who wander are lost.” – J.R.R Tolkien
This week is a special story from Western European countries.
Our second guest writer, Christophorus Ariobumi Praditya, was awarded the Indonesian International Student Mobility Awards (IISMA) Scholarship to KU Leuven, which granted him a fully-funded student exchange in the most prestigious universities in Belgium.
Adjacent and easily accessible to every part of Europe, he made use of his semester hopping from one EU country to another. We invite him to share his takeaways on traveling, being lost, and—eventually—found.
What does a semester around Europe teach him?
Hi, Bumi here.
There’s a guilt that comes with living in a grand city.
In the middle of this fast-paced world, losing yourself in-between feels like a finger snaps. Be it in-between work, classes, or words, you wouldn’t even notice that you are stranded in the middle of nowhere without any map.
As someone who lives in Jakarta with its bustling streets and pressure, I measured myself based on my productivity. I feel bad for not taking data analytics online courses, or becoming a motivational speaker like most of my friends.
I wouldn’t consider myself as someone with a stellar CV who jumps from one company to another for internship experiences, let alone touching my long-awaited thesis.
I ran away. A 10-hour flight and thousand miles away from Jakarta to the land of chocolates and waffles, seeing it as a way to redeem my online student exchange program last semester.
It was one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made in my life, even though I’d have to delay my graduation. Not only a chance to study (offline!) at one of the best universities in the world, living in the heart of Europe really opened my eyes and broadened my point of view about a lot of things.
One of them is being lost in life. As someone in his early twenties, I felt like I should have everything figured out. I felt the need to work in a 9-to-5 job immediately after graduation, start investing in NFTs or cryptocurrencies, and jump through hoops even on weekends as is the norm in Jakarta. If I don’t fit into the aforementioned category, it will make me seem like someone who’s taking everything for granted.
However, traveling the world has always been a dream for me. The world is too big, and I’m just a microscopic dot on the map. There are people I haven’t met, foods I haven’t eaten, and languages I haven’t understood. But I’m willing to take one step at a time for that adventure of a lifetime.
Wandering into the unknown might be frightening for most people. But to be anxious or excited is really a matter of choice. I’m someone who enjoys getting lost in translation, meeting new people, and taking my time to really connect with how people live in a new city that I’ve never been to.
I met a stranger who asked me, “What wakes you up in the morning?” As expected, I wasn’t able to answer that question because, hey, I’ve never thought of that. I personally think that it shouldn’t be something grand like eradicating poverty or changing the education system (although it’s great that you have something big that keeps you going). It could be something small like ... finishing your favorite TV show.
I’m neither a motivational speaker nor a big shot at a top-tier consulting firm at the moment. I’m just a regular student who’s trying to finish his thesis and keep his life together. But throughout my trips and living abroad for 5 months, I’m really able to take a step back from the pressure of always moving somewhere. I’ve come to realize that everyone has different goals in life, and finally able to understand that everyone has their own timeline.
It’s easier if you keep moving as everyone else does so you won’t feel like you’re behind everyone. But when you do, you might see things you couldn’t see. Probably, you’ll see that you don’t have to get an internship at some big companies to succeed in life. After all, you are the one who defines success in your story.
Traveling is more than seeing new places and capturing them for the gram, but it’s a process of losing and finding yourself again through many mediums. Be it from the person you met during your trip, a book you came across accidentally in a used bookshop, or from a random book that pops up on the way back home.
Your journey doesn’t have to be like mine, because again, everyone has a different journey and process. Same with how life works. Everyone has a different timeline, and it’s okay to feel like you’re not moving anywhere. Perhaps you’re currently reading the map so you won’t get lost when you walk, we never know.
Thank you for bearing with me, and feel free to contact me through LinkedIn or Instagram. May our paths cross one day!
– Bumi, final year student, currently struggles to finish his thesis, loves traveling :)