Real life story: “My year overseas”

December 22, 2009

Ever wanted to just get away? Lyndsay Steadman, 32, had a great career, fantastic friends and a damn fine life but she packed it all in to go travelling with amazing results!

“I’d been living in Sydney for four years. I had a well established network of friends and was Associate Director for the NSW Financial Services division of a global recruitment company.

I really enjoyed my role but I found that over the last few months I was laughing out loud a lot less every day. I know it’s a strange measure to use for some people, but a key one for me to determine whether I’m happy in what I’m doing. I felt it was time for some long over–due me time where I wouldn’t be think about profits, budgets and targets for a while.

I was emotional about leaving my team at work after being there for so long, but I knew it was the right thing for me and they would respect that. Apart from that, I was excited – especially when I started mapping out how the year was going to look and who was up for joining me for parts.

It was a year of real contrasts and I was guided not only by things I wanted to do, but by friends who live in various countries, all doing very different things who I thought I could either recruit or link up with for some adventures.

The timeline of my travels went something like this … diving and hanging out with Orangutans in Borneo, swimming with Manta Rays and Whale Sharks in WA, wakeskating (and crocodile dodging!) in the gorges with the NSW University Waterski club from Broome to Darwin, a wedding in Vegas (not mine!) and a road trip to Yosemite and San Fransisco, working in an orphanage in Cambodia, living and working in a township in South Africa, a two month overland truck trip from Cape Town to Nairobi and then back with friends and family (and my newly born Godson) in the UK. Not a bad year all in all!

I knew I wanted to volunteer with Children in a couple of places and organized to spend a month in an orphanage in Cambodia and a month in a Township School in South Africa. I also wanted to feel part of a place rather than just be a tourist and this enabled me to do this perfectly. Being quite goal orientated, it also gave me something to work towards and provided a great sense of achievement.

Cambodia was the highlight without a doubt. I can’t say enough wonderful things about the country, the people, the culture and most of all the children. You would never know what Cambodia has gone though in only the last 30years, and in particular despite having virtually nothing, the children were so happy, polite, loving – and just so grateful to have someone show an interest for a while. There really is a magic there.

Here are the Top 10 things that I emailed home about what I’d learned from my time in Cambodia were below:

1. Shrieks of laughter are a magical sound
2. Tuk Tuk’s are a great way to get to work
3. Hugs and meal times out way nits and worms
4. Spending 8hours barefoot and going home dirty is the sign of a good day
5. Recruitment does give you a transferable skill set
6. There is no such thing as a language barrier
7. All kids should get a kiss goodnight
8. Not everyone knows when their birthday is
9. A 14year old boy asking if he can be your brother makes your heart melt
10. Some goodbyes are harder than others

I haven’t become a different person from my travels. However, I noticed that when I came back, I walked slower, I was on time for my friends, I smiled whenever I saw children and I’m very passionate about raising awareness and money for a Country that had never been on my radar before.

For those interested in volunteering overseas, I highly recommend who are a UK registered charity and non-profit organization aimed at providing volunteers for worthwhile ventures around the world. Oh – and if you’re not sure on where to go for your next holiday – I’d recommend a certain country beginning with C.”

For more great travel advice click here!

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