In this episode you will travel with me to Peru, Brazil and Ghana. I share experiences where I pushed trough situations that were at first new, unknown or difficult for me. By personal storytelling, I show you how we, as human beings, are so good in adapting to new or different environments. And that if we dare to go out of our comfort zone, that eventually becomes our new comfort zone.
If you want, you can read the transcriptions of Episode 5 of Under The Baobab Tree here:
When I was 17, I went to live in Peru for a year. That was after high school. And I lived in a host family with an amazing
mom and sister. And you know, the beginning was weird, and very difficult for me. Especially because I didn't speak Spanish at the time. So I arrived in a country where everyone was speaking Spanish, no one could speak English. And it was difficult to understand what people were trying to say to express myself. It was very difficult.
And at the time, there wasn't any, like smartphone or something to help me. So I still remember I was walking around with yhis little book, writing down the words I heard and trying to translate with my dictionary. So especially the language made it very difficult. But there were also other things.
Like, I went to a Catholic school there, because I was going there with an exchange program. And through that exchange program, I needed to go to school. And so it was in a Catholic school with a uniform, and every Monday, we were singing the Peruvian national song. And I didn't understand anyone and the whole culture was so different, right? And I remember for that school, I needed black shoes, and I didn't bring them but I have pretty big feet. And in Peru the biggest size of the shoes still didn't fit me. So oh I was like, "Oooh, why is it like this, you know"...it was so difficult in and I didn't in the first one, I was really like, "Oh, why am I here? Why did I do
that?" Right. And just everything was so different from what I knew the way how they greeted each other, the foods they ate, the music, how they danced, the people themselves and the things what to do, what not to do, also how to stay safe, because there were like this, all these different things that were important to think about. And there was just so much so much to get used to.
And as I said, the first month was so difficult, and everything was just super weird. For me. That's the only word I can think of now it was just so different from what I knew. Also, all the things that I was seeing outside were so different from Belgium, because I was in a country where the weather was better, which was also a thing to get used to. But there were way more shops outside. And it was just, yeah, it was a thing you know.
But after three months, already, my Spanish was good actually. And I was used to most of the things. I knew what to
do and what not to do. And I was actually just loving it. Everything became so normal. I also had some friends, which also was a difficult thing in the beginning, because I didn't really know anyone aside my host family. But then after three months, everything became normal. And from then on that year was so amazing, because my Spanish became better and better, even until the point that I dreamed in Spanish and almost Spanish became more easy than Dutch, you know, so yeah.
Bear with me, I'm going somewhere with these stories, because I'm gonna tell you another story now. After my Bachelor's between my bachelor's and my master's, I also decided to take a sabbatical. And I want to travel to South America. And so I was traveling from place to place, always doing new places, getting to know new people, new food. And yeah, just discovering again, you know, going on an adventure. And at some point, I arrived at a place in Brazil, where I would stay for a while I would stay there for more months. And before I was looking forward so much to be there and to do the things I was going to do there and I was dreaming about it, and it would be so amazing. And then I arrived there and I was so disappointed. It was very different than I thought. And also I had just been traveling for a month with some friends and then I arrived there and they left, so I was suddenly alone.
And there were just so many tou
rists in that place and I wasn't expecting that. So I was like what am I doing here and It also, I don't know, the town was just so weird. Like, I didn't find my way. Again, it was also another language this time Portuguese. And so I was just, I remember actually still crying a lot because I was so disappointed and it wasn't matching my expectations. And it wasn't what I wanted. But after a while, I started to love the place. And it's still one of the places, if not the number one place that has my heart. Like one of the things was, for example, that when I arrived there, I went to a beach, always to the same beach, and I thought that was the beach to go to. And then like, a few days or weeks after, someone showed me other beaches, and I was like, "Oh, wow, these are the beaches everybody's talking about." So that changed so much in how I felt about the place too.
And that's actually another thing too, like strangers, or people you don't know can really be so friendly, and really help you out if it's needed. Anyway, I remember writing down in my diary that sabbatical in general, several times how special it is that something can feel so foreign and unknown. And then it becomes normal, then it becomes your normal.
And so when I came to Ghana, and especially when I arrive
d in Kwahu, the area where I wanted to stay, where I wanted to live, and where I still live now. So when I arrived here, even though everything was new, and I needed to learn new things about the people here, the customs, the food, I don't know, just things of like living in the mountains here, instead of the city, there was so much to learn, right. And even though I'm still learning, I'm used to it now.
And also, even when I came here already, because of my previous experiences from moving to other places, even though it felt uncomfortable, and it didn't feel nice that there were a lot of things I didn't understand or didn't know, I knew eventually, I would know it, I knew eventually it will be my normal. And so just knowing that because of my previous experiences, made it easier for me to continue going through the uncomfortable feelings and things. And yeah, now here I am, things are...this is my life, you know, things are normal. Yeah, this is where my life is now.
So why am I telling you all of these things? Why did I share these little stories with you? Well, in Belgium, we have a saying, I mean, in English, it would be "unknown makes unloved", which it already speaks for itself. Like when you don't k
now something, you don't really love it a lot of times. And this can be with people, people from another culture, another place another situation, another job, the idea of another job, right? I really, really love that expression a lot.
And, yeah, that's like what I experienced when going to Peru, going to Brazil, you know, like all these new situations. In the beginning, I didn't know it really well. So it wasn't that I was really loving it in the beginning. But having an open mind and being willing to learn, and to adjust, makes that things change eventually, and especially if we give it time, it is actually unbelievable how good we are in adapting to new environments, o
r to even many different environments.
As human beings, we're able to use our brains and skills, and therefore change our behavior to respond in a changing environment. We know how to solve problems, we know how to learn from others, we know how to observe and learn through experience. And all of this helps us in this process of learning new things, going out of our comfort zone.
And that's the next thing I'm going to say if you try to grow, or if you try to go out of your comfort zone, things can feel difficult, or weird. Fears can come up. You can feel resistance, but it's just a matter of pushing through walking with the fear, giving space to resistance and doing it anyway. And eventually when you look back, you're like "Wow, it'
s so different now."And that's because you've grown. Now it's normal.
So, where have you felt this in your life? That something was unknown, uncomfortable and became normal afterwards. Or where did you go out of your comfort zone? And we've all experienced something like that, you know, it can be tiny things. Do you remember how you felt? And do you remember how it went? Or what you did?
And I have another question for you. What are the things in your life now that you actually want to do that are out of your comfort zone? And why are you not doing them? What is holding you back?
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