Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Staying Put vs. Moving On

I've been in Siem Reap volunteering for over a month now and have been enjoying my time here immensely. The people are friendly, cheap eats are plentiful and the atmosphere is ultra chill. At times I feel like I may never want to leave.

This past weekend, most of the other teachers left for a weekend trip down to the beach. I opted to stay behind and somehow ended up spending most of my time with a lovely group of English backpackers who, unlike myself, were in full travel mode. They had just arrived from Bangkok, stayed four nights in Siem Reap and have already moved on to Phnom Penh. They're actually traveling. Which made me realize that I'm really not. And kind of made me wish that I was.

Don't get me wrong, I'm very content with where I am. But spending even just a few days with these people got me thinking about just how different what they're doing is from what I'm doing. I'm teaching English, which means I have be somewhere at a certain time every day and I'm accountable to an organization.

While this experience has been incredibly rewarding and I'm glad to take on the responsibility, I don't think it can really be considered traveling. According to dictionary.com, "travel" means "to go from one place to another, as by car, train, plane, or ship; take a trip; journey: to travel for pleasure." I'm not going from one place to another. On the contrary, I've been staying put and as a result I've gotten pretty comfortable: I know my way around the city, I know where I like to eat and drink, I see people I recognize around town. There is of course a lot to be said for getting to know a place in this way but I also don't want to get too comfortable. At some point I'm going to have to move on.

Although hanging out with this group of Brits got me a bit antsy to move on to somewhere new, I know I'm not ready yet. I'm not ready to leave the school I'm at and there are still lots of things I want to see in and around Siem Reap. I'm sure I'll know when the time is right. But I'll admit, I'm already a little bit excited for what's to come.

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