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What happens when you take a year off?

" Don`t do it! Under any circumstances don`t! It is bad! You will loose your balance, your motivation and probably you will never go to school again." – That`s what they said.

It has been exactly one year since I graduated and got my bachelor degree. Yeeey! According to a normal flow of life, now I should be finishing my first year of masters.

I graduated one year ago, I was saying… 3 weeks later, I was already in Spain, doing an internship. I went to Malaga. Never been to the South, so I decided to explore more the country I love so much! Overall, it wasn`t only the joy of being back in Spain, discovering new places, but also the feeling, the ravishing feeling of freedom. The idea of eternal freedom, the chance to be on my own finally, the opportunity to fly away and not worry about coming back, because no exams waiting anymore. The one and only thing that always made me go back to Romania, university. And it is over!

The experience in Malaga was amazing, especially because I was working as an intern in my field of study, the thing that interests me the most, tourism, and I met amazing people who inspired and taught me so many great things! First thing I realized is that Europe became too small for me. I have been in at least 22 countries across the good old continent, and somehow it became my comfort zone. I knew the challenge I needed was out of this area.

The second thing I was constantly wondering, if I should have a bucket list, or not, so I can focus on what I really would like to do or see. Shortly after voting for a bucket list I changed my mind. If I make a list of what I dream of, those dreams will loose their meaning, event their "status" of dreams. They will turn into some objects that I am chasing, just because once I said I want them and put them on a sort of a "to do list". Why this point of view?

While long walks on the beaches of Malaga, completely forgetting the world around me and ignoring any form of life surrounding me, focusing only on the one thing in this life that makes me feel fretful and entirely relaxed in the same time, the waves, made me meditate a lot. Just sitting and listening from dusk till dawn felt like inhaling inspiration and leaving behind all the negative thoughts. One of these inspiration was related to the bucket list. I suddenly realized I have done so many different things in so many different countries. A certain part of my life was like a new episode of "Eat, Pray, Love" . Starting from this idea, I agreed with myself that I should continue this lifestyle, but with a new chapter! What means this? I will keep up traveling, and wherever I would go, I would do something I have never done before, or something I can do the best only in that certain place.

… 3 weeks later I was on a plane, on my way to Ibiza. Why Ibiza? I guess everyone knows why people go to Ibiza. Beats, champagne, turquoise water, money and a yacht. The place where my plane tickets were the cheapest thing by far 😀 . I went there to party as I never did before, on the island of glam and sins, where celebrities go for a gateway , on the island where what happens will forever stay there. Subject closed with this.

…next weekend I was on a ferry, heading to Morocco. This was one exciting trip! The moment when I broke the ice! Finally, I stepped out of Europe! Amazing place with amazing culture, and the best of it: amazing food. The place where "supermarket me" turned into a gourmet. As people never forget their "first time" I will never forget my first shebakia! I don`t like sweets at all, but this one, is something heavenly! People might go to Italy or Asia "to eat", well me, I went to Morocco.

As December was knocking on the door, my internship in Spain was counting it`s last days, so the time to leave was inevitable. From Malaga I went to Madrid, and after I felt the urge to stop by at home, in Barcelona, for a breath of refresh. Facepalm here, all those who know me. Barcelona again? Yes! home is where your heart is, and if there is something I have unconditional love for, that is Barcelona! From now on, silencio porfavor!

Few days spent here were followed by a short trip to Budapest! Considering I`m Hungarian by nationality, it was a return "to an other home" . Short trip, but always time to stop by at my all time favorite spot, next to the Danube, in front of the House of Parliament. No political interest, don`t get me wrong! It`s my special spot, because it is the most beautiful building I have ever seen in my entire life. What I usually do is just sit there and stare of hours in a row. Landing from the sunny Barcelona to frozen Budapest wasn`t an obstacle. -15 degrees, I could barely breath, my fingers were literally frozen, but I was still just sitting there and staring and staring… there are some things I just can`t get enough (besides jellies and ice cream) . Traveling is not the only reason I often find myself in Hungary. Not when my uncle is the icon of the country! How cool is to be famous, huh? Anyways, next stop after Budapest was back to Romania.

Right after landing in that (no offence) sad place I was born, I already heard people whispering: "she is back again, she run away so many times, but in the end she always comes back here" . Well, my beloved, (or not) people, I came back with big plans on my mind! And a plane ticket ! I didn`t even unpack properly, in less than a week my backpack was already done, heading to Vienna, Austria. Purpose of travel : business. Purpose of the business: visa. To where? To one controversial South American country, everyone judged me (off course) for going! Also, maybe the time when I told everyone who judged me before, "once I am gone, I`m gone for good, and I might never come back" ! -They thought it`s a joke… but see their faces now, after a year!

After surviving somehow a month back in Romania, busy with writing and travel plans,of course, in February I was already flying back to Barcelona. Again? Yes! Why? To change a flight! Destination? USA! February 15th, American Airlines was flying me to New York! dream of so many people, and mine also, was coming true. The best thing about it: I had no idea what is waiting for me there, will it be "the big city from the movies" , or something better, maybe worse! Results: speechless! You haven`t lived for real if you never went to New York at least once in your life! For good! The place where I felt entirely free, independent, frightened, challenged and amazed in the same time. Happy is a word too pale to describe what I felt there. I was on my own in one of the biggest cities of the world, surrounded by giant buildings and a multicultural nation. I knew no one, no one knew me, no one asking why am I late, what I am doing, where am I! Nobody questioning me! I think the part I love the most about traveling!

Next week I was heading to Miami, and then, to final destination: Colombia! "Are you even serious? "Couldn`t you find anything better?" "There was no worse country you could go?" Questions I have heard from almost every single person I knew. Everyone thought I am going crazy, and this time I really crossed the line! My mum didn`t talk to me for 2 weeks and concluded I am a hopeless without a future, my grandparents were about to pay me just to not to go, friends were praying for me…blaablaa, everyone freaking out. Still, why Colombia? I wanted something different from what I have experienced before, and the fact that no one wanted me to go was the final "push" that made me go!

Five months later, 6th of July, 2015, I am still in Colombia. Alive! Meanwhile I went to Brazil, Peru, Panama, I was sailing on the Amazonas, I was laying on the beach on Caribbean islands. Five days ago I had my flight back home to Barcelona. Did I make that flight? No! Will I return soon? Remember what I said before, "once I`m gone, I might never return" .

Now, the big questions! What did I learn? Do I regret it? Beside the fact that I found out about the existence of arepa, lulo, maracuya, ajiaco, sneaked into the latinos` life and collected new stamps in my passport there is actually a lot of things I learned. The most important: life is priceless, my life is amazing, and I will never complain again! Ever! After changing my mind and not making the flight that crashed in the French Alps last year, getting almost killed by a bus and a truck one day before my birthday, walking in the "favelas" of Bogota, teaching English to kids from unfortunate families, listening to their scary stories and scenes they assisted, counting all the homeless people from the corners of dark streets, made me realize that my issue of not knowing where to enroll for master studies was basically so tiny in comparison of what issues other people have, all the things I had were perfectly enough for me, because out there are millions of people who don`t have a roof above their head, my life is amazing and I should never complain, because thousands of kids can`t even dream of such things, because they can`t even afford to dream!

Furthermore, I learned to never make plans! Just let things happen, because it`s better to have unexpected surprises than to be sad of things not happening according to some useless plans. Also, I might have figured out what do I want to do with my life (still no plans!), I realized what are my priorities, what should I start doing or stop this instant, who are the people I should be grateful to, how small in this world I am, and how big this world is!

All in all, one year ago I dared to gave up all I had, the perfect life everybody wants to have, I left all my shinny and expensive things, the comfort, friends, family, UNIVERSITY, home, my adorable two dogs, my beloved Barcelona, my sweet Europe… basically everything! With one passport, a backpack and a suitcase I went to places many people would never dare to go, I spent amazing moments on the other part of the world, I met amazing people across the ocean, I fell in love, I faced lots of challenges, adventures and incredible experiences. Experiences that made me feel free, alive, inspired, happy, pushed me to my limits and made me do things I never thought I would do.

Leaving and taking a year off (or maybe more, we shall see), was one of the best decisions of my life. I traded everything for the unknown and for the desire of having a change. And in the end, the unknown turned to be the best thing in my life, because it changed me, taught me so many lessons, and showed me "the different" ….because in the end that`s what I came for!

What did YOU learn? Taking a random decision, assuming it`s risks and leaving prejudging behind can change one`s life. Yours could be next…



Profile photo of Zsuzsanna Nyaradi

I am a 23 years old traveler, Hungarian by nationality, born and raised in Romania, currently living in Colombia.I graduated my bachelor last year in Tourism and Geography.I have lived in different parts of the world, such as Lithuania, Spain, Hungary, Romania and now in Colombia.I have done volunteering and 4 internships, on social inclusion, English teaching and tourism.The most I love is traveling, I have been in 30 countries so far, on 4 continents. I also enjoy writing, I am working on a book about my traveling, but also trying o focus on my blog. I speak Hungarian, Romanian, English,Spanish,German, basic French and Portuguese. I am also working for an organisation, called AIESEC.

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