Until just recently I’ve never really noticed how beautiful my home country and especially my hometown actually are. As I was growing up in this place I was used to my surroundings and they were nothing special to me. I remember the first time I lived abroad in Malta at the age of 17 someone asked me “Wow you’re from Austria? That’s such a beautiful country, right?” And I always thought “Well, it’s not ugly but it’s not that special either, it doesn’t even have access to an ocean.” Funnily, this person told me that he didn’t understand why I’d leave Austria to come to Malta as he couldn’t wait to leave the island. Back then I had always wanted what I couldn’t have – a beach in this case – instead of appreciating what I had.
For a long time I didn’t appreciate at all what I had at home: impressive mountain ranges, beautiful lakes, clean air, safety, etc. I always took it for granted and I can’t even blame myself. I grew up with it and I didn’t know life any other way so this was just what I was used to. Traveling to and living in other countries and continents totally opened my eyes. At some point I just truly started to see how lucky I am with everything this life has given to me and that it’s up to me to make the most out of it. Sometimes it even feels like I finally percieve my home with the eyes of a tourist. I’m excited about everything and I constantly want to go out and discover new places.
Now I’m always happy to come back home after a trip and I’m really excited about discovering my surroundings. It’s funny how we travel to places far away but sometimes we forget to explore the places around us. How awesome is it to step out of your front door and discover a place near you you’ve never been to before?
Even though this post is about appreciating your home country, I still want to encourage you to travel more. It makes you look at your surroundings and your life from a different angle and lets you perceive things differently. Once you’re abroad and you have to live withount certain commodities you had taken for granted before, you start realizing how privileged you are.
In Austria it can get pretty cold in winter but it’s not such a great deal because as soon as you enter a building you warm up since there’s heating everywhere. When I moved to Chile for 5 months I hadn’t considered at all that the buildings wouldn’t have heating systems. So imagine freezing the whole day at university in winter and then coming home to an ice cold apartment where the wind enters through the windows. I was always wearing 5 layers of clothes, a scarf and a hat for sleeping. Never have I appreciated a warm shower as much as then.
A further thing is drinkable tap water and water in general. Drinking water flowing out of a tap is such a luxury which is hardly appreciated in a country like Austria. Also, having visited several desert towns I saw that sometimes at a certain point of the day the town was simply out of water and had to wait for several hours until the water or also electricity came back on again. Obviously everyone knows that this happens in some places and that many people in this world have it way worse than that. What I want to point out is that once you actually experience this yourself and not just hear it in the media you notice it much more intensely because you have an emotional connection to the situation.
See this post as a call to action: Make yourself aware of the little things in your life that others would be happy about and try to appreciate them. Do research which places worth visiting are around your home and go out to explore your region! Try to see it with the eyes of a tourist who has never been there before and pay attention to the details, you’ll notice a change in perception for sure.
Do you pay attention to the beauty that is surrounding you? Has travel also changed your perception? I’d love to hear your thoughts!