In less than one month, I’ll be back in Pittsburgh! Why is there an exclamation point at the end of that sentence, you might be asking? While long-term travel sounds like a dream come true, it still comes with struggles along the way. I still have lots of adventuring left to do but I am already looking forward to having my own space, a real kitchen (I’m ready to bake all the things!!), and easy access to a washing machine. I’m also more than excited to see people again! I love traveling, and in fact I enjoy traveling alone, but us the being alone, all the time, that can me difficult. In fact, I was happy to recently enjoy coffee with a friend from Paris, and I’m looking forward to joining up with my PIs and some other members of my lab for a conference in Germany next week. And as someone who enjoys keeping busy, forced relaxation only works for so long before I just really want something to do! I’m trying to pace myself for this extended period of traveling, so I’m rarely up for spending an entire day out and about. I am trying to change my habits so that my default isn’t to work, but instead to read, blog, listen to a podcast, etc. – but old habits die hard! I’m also more energized in big cities, so after spending the better part of two weeks exploring the small towns and cities of southern France, having Barcelona (where I currently am), Glasgow, and Paris as upcoming stops should provide me a much-needed boost.
I think that when I reflect back on this adventure it’ll be positive, but right now I’m finding it easy to critique myself when things aren’t feeling perfect. The mindset of “once in a lifetime opportunities” and “making the most of every moment” is counterintuitively detrimental, I think, to trying to appreciate the moments as they come – good, bad, or ambivalent. I’m just trying to make this trip about me, instead of about expectations. With still about 3.5 weeks and 5 countries to go, I’m hopeful that my energy level and enthusiasm will pick up again for the home stretch!