Busan – Finding Our Way By Looking At Others

We went on a world trip and had no clue what for or where it would lead us. Busan was the place where we got a glimpse of what this trip actually meant for us. Slowly, a path started to evolve out of the blurriness we had initially jumped into.

In Busan, we volunteered as English teachers in a language café. Our co-workers were backpackers, people who were for their first time in Asia, party folk and European exchange students. Meeting people with all these different goals and motives gave us the chance to compare our goals and motives to theirs. This was really the first time for us that we got such an opportunity since we had been traveling alone on the Trans-Siberian Railway.

Unlike most of the other people living with us, we were not backpackers in the common sense (although we do carry backpacks), we did not stay at the café mainly for the free accommodation, and it was not our first time in Asia. Their way of traveling had lead them to the language café the same way that we landed there. It became clear to us that if we were to maintain this very travel style of cheap stay, dorm beds, and shared bathrooms then we would not be able to travel as independently as we wanted to.

In short, we came face to face with our aversions.

As a result, we were and still are gradually creating an idea of how we want to travel instead. We took the experiences we had in Busan as a source of inspiration. Becoming aware of our aversions sparked in us the motivation and curiosity to start thinking about what we actually wanted. This was only possible because we saw our stay in Busan as an experiment. That is to say that we didn’t think something like “If this doesn’t work out, then we’ll go home.” We could have always gone to a different place, which we did in the end. The point is that

if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original.

(TED Talk by Sir Ken Robinson (2006): Do schools kill creativity?)

Let’s rephrase this quote: How good are you at laughing about yourself when you’re wrong? Can you be easy about it and freely admit that you took a wrong turn? Maybe even accept that the wrong turn wasn’t wrong because otherwise you would not have known, if your decision was right in the first place? To be honest, it took us some time until we were able to laugh about our awkward experiences in Busan. We are getting better at this…


We concluded that our volunteer project wasn’t what we wanted and that Busan wasn’t our destination, so we left for Japan and for a new project that would be completely different from the previous one. After all, we keep on experimenting.







Happy changes,
Jan & Gratsi

P.S.: Check out our route map to see where we are!

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