There I was, on the plane to Reykjavik, the capital city of Iceland. An island of fire and ice with endless tales and myths waiting for me to discover.
I went to Iceland for my internship, because a lecturer introduced Iceland as crazy, cold and weird. It’s not a typical way to describe a country, but he got me at “crazy.” I wanted to escape from my daily life in the Netherlands — in search of something new, an adventure, and way out of my comfort zone.
Iceland came along my path and I had no idea where it would lead me, but I knew I needed to go there. That was my inspiration to travel it.
“I don’t know what my path is yet. I’m just walking on it.” — Olivia Newton-John
Back then, I haven’t been travelling to many places. So, when I arrived in Iceland, it felt as if I entered another world. As if I was transported to a fantasy novel — a story that took me far away from my safe home to a mystical land full of adventure and uniqueness, which was exactly what I wanted.
If I would describe this whole experience in one word, it would be “uncomfortable”. Cold wind, heavy snow, unending rain, rare moments of sun, and sometimes having workdays of 17 hours. Nothing was good and yet everything was perfect. Here is why:
1. A Chance To Be A Beginner Again
The step I took into the unknown combined with the anxiety of the unexpected, made me feel like a beginner all over again, and there was nothing more humbling. Around every corner, I found amazing scenery where my eyes wander for whatever might be beyond there. The very newness of my surrounding lit up my fire as I approached it with a sense of wonder and admiration.
This was exactly the place where I wanted to escape to, and I left my daily life behind in the Netherlands. As days come and go, so did the sensation in its turn. It was a matter of time until I created a daily life for myself in Iceland as well. However, it’s those days when I let myself to be a beginner again and wanting to learn something new is what kept my sensation alive. I realised I could do this here in Iceland, why can’t I do this In the Netherlands?
Here is the thing: I thought being a beginner was time bound, but it was my own mindset to blame. I could approach any daily activity with complete openness and curiosity, with the desire to learn. Of course, it’s easier to be an actual beginner, but I could approach my daily life in both Iceland and the Netherlands with a beginner’s mindset and make life new again. And that was exactly what I planned to do when my internship ended. Sometimes, it’s all about finding newness in the old.
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.” — Shunryu Suzuki
2. Found Places To Get Lost
Sometimes it was all too much, especially the long workdays of 17 hours, and I longed for some down time for myself. Iceland was perfect whenever I was seeking for quietness or wanted to distance myself from everything. It’s a habit of mine to get lost in order to organise ideas and thoughts, and to escape from the reality surrounding me for a while.
With getting lost, I didn’t mean with straying from my life path. Not at all. This is more related to rediscovering myself. The idea is to take a step back from everything around me to create an opportunity to learn new things. This helped me access inspiring situations where I could discover more about myself and who I am.
“Getting lost along your path is a part of finding the path you are meant to be one.” — Robin S. Sharma
3. It Made Me A Storyteller
Travelling is more than just transportation, it’s about transformation. It taught me how to navigate in unknown situations, be independent, and occasionally to go with the flow. Never had I ever come back home and said, “Traveling sucks!”. Yes, I came across challenges as well. I had to manage myself in all different situations which is how I learned to rely on myself.
I could tell infinite stories about how everything went well, but it’s those hard times that emerge into really memorable stories. Travelling in Iceland had placed me in the middle of infinite unfolding dramas and it made me the storyteller that I am today. I got to experience other cultures, which changed my perception of the world. It taught me about the commonality people around the world share. I learned that we’re not so different after all.
The day I waved goodbye to my daily life in the Netherlands, I also waved goodbye to the simple-minded boy who didn’t enjoy life.
It’s true what they say: “Traveling — it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.”
Originally published at ye-chen.com.
- Have you ever travelled to Iceland?
- What were your most memorable experiences there?
- Do you have any recommendations for me and other readers?
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