Logging Off While Overseas

Written by  December 30, 2013

Reconnecting during a volunteer abroad project.

When you move abroad, be it for any length of time, you should consciously make an effort to disconnect yourself. Make a plan, set a day and for a few hours turn off the noise. It will be hard, but I promise, it will be worth it.

The challenge with our generation is twofold, I believe. We are an extremely connected generation. We can communicate our ideas, our inspirations, our hopes and dreams with the touch of a button. We find injustices in the world and we move together as a community to bring about awareness and knowledge. But that also means you have to make a robust, conscious decision to disconnect yourself from the weave of mediums in which you may talk to others.

I am living in a developing country, thousands of miles away from home and still, with no effort whatsoever; I can send a text or share a photo in a matter of seconds.

We are never truly alone. Which thereby brings about the second problem, we are an extremely disconnected generation. This may seem a bit contradictory, yet the two are substantially linked.

We are disconnected from ourselves.

Our generation’s dominantly attributed characteristic, be it factual or not, is that we, quite honestly have no idea what we are doing. We graduate from notable universities and colleges with prestigious degrees and an abundance of knowledge to work menial jobs in search for our life’s true meaning, whatever that may be.

We are lost. We are taught to network, to volunteer, to travel, to expand our minds, but we are never taught to explore ourselves, to be independent in the genuine definition of the word, which is to be alone and be comfortable in that aloneness. We spend much of our young adult lives defining ourselves via our titles: we are students, we are volunteers, we are girlfriends or boyfriends, friends and acquaintances, daughters and sons, sisters and brothers and while all of this is factual in its simplicity, we are first and foremost ourselves. We attempt to locate whom we truly are through the reflections of others, going so far as to possess the qualities they bestow upon us, believing they can permeate into the depths of our heart and mind, two tremendously impermeable places.

There is no better opportunity to learn about yourself, about what you want and where you want to be then to do so in an entirely new place where you are bound to encounter a few challenges, make a few mistakes and already be rolling in learning mode. In the face of all of this, disconnecting will help you reconnect. It will allow you the clarity of a sound mind without the obstructions of knowing what is happening everywhere at any given time.

Refraining from little moments of quiet will prevent you from taking in all of your surroundings, from truly drinking in the reality of where you are and more importantly why you’re there.

Take a minute to put down your camera, resist the urge to upload every photo, every discovery on to the various social media networks you are connected to. Some moments aren’t meant to be reduced to a one line caption or seen through a filter, but are better enjoyed raw, as they are. The best journeys lead us not only outwards in space, but inwards as well. The best of them are the ones in which your heart guides you farther than your feet, your mind wanders past borders, far from fences and gates and anything enclosing.

At the end of the day, whenever your adventure ends, if it ends, you want to be able to say that throughout your time, you immersed yourself in a new place and the challenges you faced, the moments you experienced—good, bad and ugly—helped you grow, helped you learn a little bit about yourself.

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Nikki Gladstone

Nikki Gladstone is a journalism grad from Ottawa, Ontario, who hopes to make a career out of her passion for writing and love for travelling. She is currently living in Kampala, Uganda as a fellow with Aga Khan Foundation Canada. Are you a budding writer as well? Follow Nikki’s stories.

Website: www.livingonsevenhills.wordpress.com/

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