My first abroad travel has been to Croatia, almost by chance. I was 25 and had been working for one year as a teacher. Just after my arrival to Istanbul for living, I had a chance to meet couchsurfing community, so I wasn’t alone anymore among these 20 million of people in Istanbul city.
I made some traveller friends. And one day, one of them told me that there was a camp in Osijek, Croatia. He was also going to this camp and it was perfect opportunity for me to have my first abroad experience.
At this point I have to explain that it is very rare to go to abroad as a girl in Turkey, alone, especially if it is for fun, and with a male company. It was a revolution what I was doing considering the culture I have been raised in. Many of girls (sometimes boys also depends on their family) not only going to abroad, they sometimes are even not allowed to go to a friend’s house in the same city.
Reason is simple: protection. And the known phrase “we trust you, but the society”.
So for me, it was the starting point, breaking the ice.
We flew to Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. Coming from Istanbul (over 17 milion population), Zagreb seemed to me very quiet. We got off the bus in the center. We needed to find the home of our host. We walked around 10 minutes to FIND somebody to ask the location but there was nobody. Yes…. We were in center, four-lane road, beautiful buildings but no people. Then I figured the population of all country is 4 million and most of them going to seaside at the weekend so there was nobody around at that day.
After a long travel, flying to Zagreb, taking train to Osijek and taking bus, we arrived in Valpovo, the camp area.
Coming from quite traditional culture, no night life, no alcohol and meeting all these “free souls” travelling and learning about world, made me think quite a lot.
There was a German boy in the camp, was going around barefoot and saying that “I don’t want to have standard life like everybody has and tell my grandsons I worked, I bought this house and this car, nothing else”, two French were travelling Europe by bicycle, another guy was travelling around by hitchhiking. An Italian was travelling with his motorbike and saying he will save money and travel the world with his motorbike.
(And after a year he started his travel and he made it travelling the world by his bike.)
While I was feeling lucky to be abroad alone, people asked me why I waited until 25 years old to go to abroad. First time having chat with foreigners who came from different countries, being asked all these questions was caused me to switch on my brain. That’s why I called this travel “awakening”. The time I started to question my life and getting aware of other’s life.
After 8 days camping we returned to Zagreb and explored that there is an artificial lake which people go and swim. It was clean and very warm water. I loved it. Even they made an island in the middle. It was really beautiful.
And I couldn’t stop thinking if this lake were in Istanbul, which condition could it be!
This is the story how I started getting out from my bubble world!!
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