My first contact with a world other than my own was when I was a little girl and my dad brought me home a bangle from India. I can still remember him hiding it behind his back and feeling the suspense as he showed me the glittery, brightly colored bracelet. It was then that I first experienced wanderlust, a deep feeling inside of me that would never go away.
I come from a family of people who took risks to uproot their life in their home country to live abroad. My father left Kerala, India in the 1970s to pursue his master’s degree in the USA and my mother’s great grandparents fled the Ukraine and Lithuania in the early 1900s to have a better life in the USA. It was in my blood to travel the world, just like my family did in the past. When I was younger, I grew up in a small town in Connecticut and would daydream about taking trips abroad. All I had then was a dream, but I never really knew how to make it a reality.
My first time abroad was when I studied in London, England. I was 21 back then. After that adventure, all I wanted to do was to live abroad in Europe. A few months before my graduation from college luck came knocking on my door. The opportunity came up for me to go to Germany with my then boyfriend, and I decided to take this adventure—even though I didn’t have a job lined up. Although my year abroad in Germany didn’t exactly pan out to how I expected it to, it taught me a lot about myself, and of course fueled my desire to travel even more.
Upon leaving Germany, I was totally mixed up for a few years about which direction to go in my life. I was 24 and totally directionless. I had traveled all over Europe, but that feeling of wanderlust I had as a child was stronger than ever. I wanted to travel the world, but I wasn’t sure exactly how to make that dream a reality.
Making a decision to get to my roots in India
After a lot of soul searching I decided to find a way to get to my roots in India. I finally found direction in my life again.
My first idea was to go to Korea and teach English for the Korean government. I went through the entire application process and was just waiting to get my confirmation for my visa. But, literally right before, a friend told me to apply to work at Emirates airlines as a cabin crew. I never in a million years thought I would apply to be cabin crew, but it was just something that sort of happened.
I was still waiting to hear back from Korea about my visa when I was going through the interview process for Emirates. Becoming Emirates cabin crew is no joke. The year I applied there were over 100,000 applications and only 4% of people actually got hired. I was one of them. When I figured out that statistical percentage of how lucky I was, I decided there was no way I could turn down this opportunity. I knew I’d be able to travel to India while working for Emirates since the flight from Dubai to Kerala was only a few hours.
So in October 2012, I left for Dubai. When I was at the airport saying goodbye to my mom and brother I felt a huge rush of emotions coming over me. It was then I realized that I was going on a 15-hour flight in order to be living halfway around the world from my family. I took deep breaths and held back my tears as I waved my last goodbye to them at the security checkpoint at the airport in New York City. Then it was onto the unknown.
Adjusting to Dubai and finally getting to India
My first few months in Dubai were not so easy. Yes, I know what you are thinking. I did travel and live abroad in Europe before. But, living in Dubai and working for Emirates was a whole different beast. Adjusting to the lifestyle there and working with people from over 130 nationalities was definitely a new challenge for me.
Like anything else in life, I eventually started to adjust to my new reality. Living in Dubai was exciting and working for Emirates was like being in cultural heaven. My daily work consisted of flying somewhere I’d never been before – like Saudi Arabia, China, Australia, Brazil and many other places. Also, Dubai is a place full of people from all over the world. So on a regular basis—both at work and my personal life—I was interacting with people from different places all over the world.
As for my dream trip to India, I finally took the plunge and booked my solo travel trip to India right before my 26th birthday. The anticipation for that trip was something I never experienced before in my life. I couldn’t wait to travel to my father’s home state and place my feet on the ground where my roots were.
I can still remember the descent of the plane into Kerala. I looked outside the plane’s window and felt as if my soul was arriving home. Tears of happiness came streaming down my face. Something I had been waiting for my entire life was finally happening.
Needless to say, my first journey to India was a life changing trip. I loved it so much that I went back to India right before my time of leaving Emirates, this time to see family. I’m eternally grateful for that trip because my cousin showed me the places my father grew up in Njeezhoor, India. He also took me to my grandparents’ grave, which was a very emotional moment for me. I never met my grandparents, but I in that moment I felt they were there with me.
The decision to leave Emirates and come back to Europe again
A lot of people ask me why I left a dream job and the answer is for love. Many of you know that I was doing a long distance relationship for the entire time I was at Emirates with Christoph, my German boyfriend. It was not easy to maintain a long distance relationship while working as cabin crew. So, after taking my journeys to India and traveling the world for nearly two years, I knew it was time for me to leave Emirates. I know some people thought I was stupid for giving up my life traveling the world to be with him, but I knew in my heart it was the right one.
I moved to Germany to be with him. In case you are wondering, we’re still together. We travel around Europe together when we can. I’m quite lucky to have found a wonderful boyfriend who shares my love of travel! I hope we will move abroad together sooner than later as well 🙂
Are you ready to travel the world?
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be? I know each of you has a place that you’ve always wanted to go to. So, why not make it a goal of yours to get there? If you really want to travel and are searching for a way to do so, reach out to me. I’d be happy to help you figure out a way to travel. It is possible. If I could do it, so can you 🙂