It would be a lie to say that traveling and living abroad hasn't changed me at all. Instead of walking around lost until my feet hurt, too embarrassed to ask for help, I now readily make inquiries – in a language I speak only bumblingly, no less. I chat up complete strangers just because they happen to be speaking Turkish in France, or English in Turkey. I like to think I have a broader perspective on world events and increased empathy, but know that working in a foreign culture has also forced me to develop a more stern and assertive side. My elbows have become sharper from fighting to get onto buses or hold a place in line. Desperate and otherwise-unsatisfied desires for tamales and Thai curry have turned me into a cook. Perhaps strangest of all, I've become a runner in a country a fellow American expat once dubbed "the land the YMCA forgot."
There's always a “but,” isn't there? When I moved to Istanbul, I fantasized about making a fresh start, about trying something totally new, about shedding my responsible skin and becoming the heedless, adventurous kid I never really was. Instead, like a homing pigeon flying unerringly back to its coop, I've wound up with a desk job, a reputation for earnestness, the same bad habits, the same fear of flying, and all the same worries that I’m not doing enough with my life. I left many things 7,000 miles away, but for better or worse, I can't seem to run away from myself.NOTE: Has travel made you a better person, a worse one, or not changed you at all? Check out other Lonely Planet travel bloggers' answers to this question in the Blogsherpa Blog Carnival: Has Traveling Changed You?, hosted by Nina Fuentes at Just Wandering.