When I was 19, I visited Berlin. It was one of the first times I visited Europe. I remember I loved every moment of my trip and thought Berlin was such a pretty city. I loved the architecture, the streets, the shopping, and the nightlife.
Fast forward to 2017: I am now 26 years old and have now had the chance to live
in NY, Lille (France), and London. I have also traveled extensively around Europe while I was living there and have visited many different amazing cities.
I decided to visit Berlin again. However, the second time around Berlin has disappointed me.
While I appreciated the history of the city, I did not like it. I didn’t think the architecture was pretty, I thought the streets were ugly, and I despised the fact that there is graffiti pretty much everywhere you look, even the shopping was no interest to me.
Sure, I thought the Berlin Cathedral was gorgeous, but anywhere else looked too plain to me or just like a mess.
What went wrong?
At the time, I could not point that out. It was only after going back home and reflecting on my trip I’ve realized that living abroad most recently in such a beautiful city such as London has set the bar high and excitement of travel to other cities somewhat pales into comparison.
Moving abroad is an enriching experience which has taught me so much.
But is it possible that being an expat has ruined my travel experiences?
Yes, it did ruined my experience in Berlin.
Certainly, this is not the case for every place I visit since there are many beautiful unique places that I appreciate. But it was definitely the case for a city like Berlin which just couldn’t hold its own against the other amazing European destinations I’ve seen.
Living in London meant that every day I was surrounded by the most stunning old buildings, endless options, I shopped in Harrods (which I consider to be the most luxurious shopping center in the world), I ate in some of the best restaurants (cheap and expensive), and experienced the exclusive nightlife. I was exposed to the best of the best. When this is your norm, you definitely get used to it and your expectations become higher.
I didn’t like Berlin like I did the first time I visited because I came with higher expectations.
The first time I visited, I was just glad to be in Europe. However, living abroad and experiencing the things I’ve experienced, made me look at the world through more critical eyes. I started noticing the details and unconsciously making comparisons in mind. It is also safe to say that I was more aware of my surroundings.
For example, since I can shop in London anytime I want, shopping in Berlin has become less appealing, or even unnecessary because you can more or less find the same brands in both cities. London to me has the best shopping experience in the world, and equal to New York. That is why I don’t need to go shopping when I’m traveling.
This is actually making sense.
Expats look at traveling though different eyes. My perspective on destinations has changed.
Don’t get me wrong, I still get excited from traveling to new places, but not EVERY place is going to be exciting for me.
Being an expat has helped me develop a “taste” of preferred type of destinations. It helped me appreciate places that are really worth appreciating, while also lowered my appreciation towards destinations that are less my personal style.
So, to answer the question of the title, living abroad hasn’t ruined my excitment of traveling, but it certainly limited my enthusiasm and made my preferences more refined.
Would love to hear your thoughts about this topic. Leave your opinion in the comments below.
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