I traveled to Istanbul in 2020 when Turkey was still open and Covid-19 numbers were low. I took a stroll along the Istiklal road. This cobblestone street  offers a fantastic array of architectural sights, shops, treats, and throngs of people. It is one of the oldest and most prominent areas of the city, full of historic richness. I took in the smell of freshly brewed Turkish coffees, entered antique stores selling old ottoman empire maps, on my way to the harbor. I sat down on a bench and watched old Turkish men fishing.

It was a grey sky that day. Rain was about to come and a fresh breathe came up and slapped in my face. My favorite weather is just before the storm, when the clouds run to close the blue sky, when the wind breathes heavy and strong to stir up the leaves and trees, to warn everyone from the upcoming storm. I watched these fishermen not move an inch, or packing their bags. They stood there, pulled up their rain jackets and continued fishing as if it didn’t matter. I decided to also sit in the rain with them, watching them.

In this moment, I thought back at the moments that were harsh when I traveled. After highschool, I participated in a programme that would organize my trip abroad, which consisted of an intense Spanish language programme and a volunteer job at an orphanage in Guatemala. One night, after I worked at the backpackers bar, it started raining heavily. It was dark and the lights were only simmering. Most of the volunteers had already gone to bed and I climbed up the stairs to our room where I was allocated one bunk bed. The floor was slippery as I walked up. I turned the door knob to realize it was locked. I knocked as I didnt have a key but no one opened. I was angry. It was late. I was tired and soaking wet and I didn’t have a bed to sleep in.

I turned around to walk down and slipped. I fell down the entire stairs. My legs were hurting. I was even more furious but ready to cry. I had to walk next door to our guest house to find a bed. I slept in my wet clothes on a bed with no blanket and my thighs hurt from the fall. I was ready to call it quits. I was mad, sad and so tired the next day when I woke up. But guess what, I didn’t call it quits. These couple of months in Latin- and South America turned out to be one of the most beautiful experiences I had. I learned so much about other cultures and people. I learned so much about myself and my resilience. When you want something, you don’t even think about calling it quits. You continue when things get tough in between. I never seriously thought once about flying back home. I had too much fun while also recognizing fully the challenges and bad moments that come with it. That moment does not define me or the experience I had. It all goes away. Don’t let moments of pain stop you from going after what you want. Its okay to feel uncomfortable and do it anyways.

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