The World in a Building
A lot happens out here. I’m not alone when I say that every moment I think, “this would be great to write about tonight”. I’m not alone in also saying that it’s difficult to find a moment alone where you can sit down and write about those moments, which is great for me, but bad for you all. That being said, this was such a wonderful weekend that I had to chunk out some time to share my first real hostel experience.
I traveled to Byron Bay this weekend, a short bus trip south of me. There I walked to the famous lighthouse, relaxed on the beach, tried to surf, ate great food, took a day trip to Nimbin (a very eclectic town to say the least), but most important of all: I stayed in a true hostel. I’ve stayed in one before, about a week ago actually was my first time. That, however, was with people who were on the same program as me, and one of them I had known since high school. If you’re reading this Scott Feder I want you to know that you snore like a walrus and laundry is a weekly thing at maximum, not a yearly thing… you pig. But Byron was my first experience living in a hostel for real.
For those who have never stay in a hostel, I’ll do my best to paint a picture. Check in and check out work the same: you walk into a main entrance, state your name and you’re given a key. The people giving you the key, however, are usually around your age and either own the place or are working behind the desk to pay for their upkeep. When you head to your room, instead of walking into a freshly made room with clean everything, new shampoo, and chocolates on your pillow, you enter a larger room that simply has beds. These beds are occupied by a range of people that seriously make you change your view of the world. I walked into my room with two people from school. We entered a room with a Canadian who was taking a gap year, had lost his luggage, and knew the owner of the Hostel. He was moving in for two week and was a hoot to say the least. Our other roommate had been at the Hostel for two weeks already and had landed a job nannying in the nearby area. She worked for the hostel to compensate for her stay and nannied or traveled when she wasn’t working.
This may all seem fairly normal, but the reason I bring it up is because I was expecting a totally different crowd, a crowd full of kids like me. I expected to room (in a room with 8 beds) with 7 other Americans studying abroad, travelling with a limited budget, and eager to see the country. At the central hangout area of the hostel (which was packed between 6pm and 10:30pm each night) I found out that hostels are full of people who can, with a quick summary of their ambitions, change my view on what it means to live.
I was thinking about how to write about hostels earlier today, and the most accurate way to convey the way this weekend affected me is as follows: I thought I saw the world in color, but this weekend and the people I met opened me up to a new spectrum of life that I didn’t even know existed.
In the past 48 hours I met a woman from Switzerland (by the way age doesn’t matter in a hostel, everyone is living and that’s what matters) who is taking a year off to travel all over Australia, I met a kid from Charleston, SC who is taking a year off to work while he travels, a Publisher from DC who is taking two years off to travel (for one year) and decided where she wants to live and work (for the next year), and a man from Canada who is taking a year off with the ability to extend his stay if he finds a job that can supply a living wage within the first year.
Those are the people that stuck out in my mind just now, but I know that barely scratches the surface. My view of the world had been school, study abroad, come back, finish school, work right out of school, and make a living wage. These people living for the next day with the money they made the previous day without an ounce of visible anxiety were nothing short of inspirational.
This entire weekend, even without the gorgeous views and beaches, was incredible and I cannot wait to travel again. I realized very soon after leaving that I had done more listening than talking in Byron Bay than I had done anywhere else in the world, and I think that’s a sign of a period of where I’ve grown. My life is now filled with more possibilities, and with that comes uncertainty. This weekend though, I met people who take that uncertainty and turn it into the most interesting stories I’ve ever heard. Time to write my own story.