Editor’s Note:Some people have always wanted to travel the world. Others come to see more slowly-or, in Faith’s case, more abruptly-what the world has to offer. Either way, it’s not easy to realize such a big dream. But this girl doesn’t take “no”-or should we say “can’t”-for an answer.
There is really no such thing as “can’t” – in my books it just means “won’t.”
I was told that can’t means won’t by a sports coach when I was 14 years old. Every time I used the word I was given 20 push ups. Slowly I began to change the way I spoke until a beautiful thing happened – I started to change the way I thought. I stoped saying the word, not because I was worried about the push ups but because I truly believed that if I wanted it enough, and if I practiced hard enough, then I could. Anything I put time, effort and energy into was totally achievable. This is one of the most valuable lessons I have ever learnt.
When I look back on my now almost 22 years of life, I can see that I am what some people would describe as a “go getter” or perhaps even a “hustler.” When I want something, I get it. I am an independent, stubborn, driven and determined young woman. I was born into a four-child, single-income home run by parents who both suffered from mental illnesses.
I could have let it define me if I’d wanted; after all, I have faced both financial and emotional hardship as a result. But I haven’t let it. Perhaps the hardship helped to bring about my inner hustler. Regardless of how it came about, there is no arguing I am indeed a hustler, and I am so thankful for it. Life is a tough slog, but us “hustler” types know how to make it that little bit more enjoyable. Speaking of enjoyable, I would like to share a story that begins in 2009 when I was 17 years old and fresh out of school.
If you had asked me then what I wanted to do with myself I would have told you this: I want to go to University, get a degree, grow up and start full time work as soon as possible. Travel was not on my mind. I had never been to another country. Hell, the only family holiday I had ever been on was a trip to the Gold Coast for a week when I was nine years old, so I had really never thought about travel as something I wanted.
As 2010 began, an opportunity to go to overseas with my grandmother presented itself, so I ordered my passport. Unfortunately, it did not go ahead, as my grandmother unexpectedly passed away. I was devastated at the loss of my grandmother and I was also embarrassingly devastated at the loss of my first chance to travel. In August of that same year, though, I was at a horseracing event and saw a competition to win a trip to Thailand. I put on a $2 bet to get an entry form, told myself I would win this trip, and I won it. The power of belief is a crazy thing; this wasn’t the first prize I’d really wanted and won.
October came, I went to Thailand, and I loved every second of it. I caught the bug, so to speak, and when I got home I started preparing for my next trip. It was to be a one-month journey around the west coast of America and Canada in June of 2011. I knew it would take me a lot of time and effort to save for but that didn’t worry me. I wanted it, so I knew I would be able to make it happen. And happen it did. Every ruthless hour worked while trying to keep up with my full time study was all worth it.
When I arrived home I hadn’t spent nearly as much money as I had saved, so I put in two more months of saving to get myself the braces I had always wanted. I was a 19 year old but that didn’t bother me – I was the one who wanted them and I now smile with so much confidence. I paid for them upfront to give myself a 5% discount (I believe every penny counts), then began saving for my next adventure – a one-month trip around Italy in January of 2012.
That trip came and went, and of course I was still hungry for more.
I had been working a few mornings and afternoons a week as a Sports Aerobics coach over the previous few years as well as a job at a donut shop. I loved that the early morning coaching meant I could fit more work into one day, which helped me save more for my travels. The company that I worked for, however, couldn’t offer me five mornings a week, so I came up with a great idea: I would start my own coaching business.
I took my proposal to my old high school, pledged my case, spoke at a school assembly, and got 68 students involved. This meant I could easily coach sports 5 mornings a week, study full time, and still keep my part time job. As a result, I took a trip to Bali in March of 2013 and a trip to Fiji in November. I finished my bachelors degree and I am pretty proud of myself.
As I sat on a beach of Fiji, I reflected on the fact that, fewer than three years ago, I had not left Australia, and now I had been to seven countries. I was hungry for more.
I decided 2013 was going to be the year of me. No study – just travel, the only experience you can buy that makes you richer. I had recently moved out of home, so I knew it was going to be a little harder to save and every time I told friend of my plan to spend the year travelling they didn’t really have much faith in me. I worked myself hard till the end of March 2013 across 5 jobs in a 7-day work week. I started early, I finished late and a hardly slept, but I did it all with a smile on my face – I was getting what I wanted out of it.
So there I was at 20 years old in New York, working as a live-in nanny, discovering the magical treasures NYC beholds on the weekends. During a three week break in May I ate (grasshoppers and all) my way around Mexico on a food tour, walked the strip in Las Vegas, sat on Santa Monica pier, looked over Chicago from the Sears building, discovered Miami on roller skates, explored Washington DC on a bike and ate cheesesteak in Philadelphia.
Then I lived in Montreal, working at a summer camp and making life-long friends, and visited Vancouver to see some relatives. Later in the year I watched whales from a boat at Cape Cod, saw the leaves change during fall in Albany, went to a college party weekend in Boston and swam in very cold beaches in Connecticut.
In December, I found myself in Iceland sitting in the blue lagoon while snow fell on my head, in London seeing my brother who has recently moved there, in Paris eating amazing cheese, in Switzerland making snow angels, in Italy checking out Romeo and Juliet’s balcony in Verona and then taking pictures on the Rialto Bridge in Venice. On Christmas day I was in Munich, Germany with a bunch of people I didn’t really know eating dinner in a beer hall.
Then I was in the Rhine Valley standing under the worlds largest cuckoo clock, in Amsterdam cycling through the beautiful city, in Belgium eating waffles, in Birmingham visiting friends, in Edinburgh bringing in the new year in Scottish-style and in Glasgow visiting other friends. I then found myself back in Germany in Berlin, staring at what was left of the Berlin wall, in Vienna tasting traditional schnapps, in Prague taking in the beauty of it all and in Budapest creating memories that would make it my favourite place in Europe.
Finally I found myself back in Brisbane, walking though those airport doors to see my mother’s smiling face. There I was, 10 months later and 22 countries into my great plan to travel the whole world. Having covered over 10% of the world in fewer than four years, I think I am off to a flying start.
I am now completing a Graduate Diploma in Education, and by the end of this year I will be a Health and Physical Education, Jr Science and Biology teacher. I am currently saving my money to go to New Zealand and Tasmania at the end of the year before I hope to start work full time. Everyone I have mentioned it to so far has told me I can’t do it, but I guess they don’t know I am a hustler and that there is no such thing as “can’t.”
I have learnt so much through my travel and am very excited to be able to pass that on and use the intercultural skills I have obtained to make my classroom a comfortable and welcoming environment for all students.