“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” – Cesare Pavese
I feel that Cesare Pavese’s description of travel describes the quintessential backpacker, a situation that does indeed garner a lack of balance. People who are working their way through a country as nomads (i.e. briefly settling in a city until they have the flavor of the land on their tongues, then moving onward) do encounter the feeling that the world does not belong to them. They borrow resources as they go and hold on to nothing lest their baggage become too heavy.
However, in my case, I have arrived in Trinidad and Tobago with the intention of a long-term stay. My goal is to understand the land beyond the tourist view that one would see during a brief stay. I actually feel that I have the same access to comforts here that I might in my home. Initially, I experienced the brutality of travel whilst prying myself away from comfort and entering an unfamiliar place.
Yet within a week of my arrival, I felt completely at home. I feel that a great part of this has to do with my amazing dorm community in Milner Hall. “Milnerites”, as the official members of the dorm refer to themselves, have a strong sense of family. The pledge itself states the dedication to making this place “a home away from home”. Milnerites look after each other like brethren. I might come across someone I have not previously met, but as we are both living together in Milner Hall, we are now in the same social circle and conversation is easy. We share everything with each other and support one another in our endeavors. To all campus events, Milnerites carry a large Milner Hall flag to which we flock during times of distress or after the fete has ended. Together, we walk back to our dorm in the early hours of the morning, following the flag as it waves to us from the front of the pack.
I have never been in ownership of the air, the sky, the seas, or even my greatest dreams. These things are always shared with the rest of the world; they connect us to each other! Here in Trinidad and Tobago, I live in harmony with my fellow students. We share the skies, the air, the cafe, and the spaghetti strainers. We share compassion for each other!