I had a pretty sheltered upbringing until I joined work. And even then, it was routine life with home, work and weekends :P. Until Edinburgh happened. My first on-site trip was to this city in Scotland, UK. And first things are hard to forget....similar to first love :-)!
I had worked hard for this trip, and was mentally prepared to be away from my family for a couple of months. But nothing could have prepared me for the desolation and self-doubt that plagued me initially. Here I was, all alone, in this foreign land, with no friends (no followers either :-)...), and no one to guide me. And the introvert that I was, I was a bit slow in getting along with my room-mates, LH and BN (the latter replaced later by CN). Since the girls knew each other for a relatively longer period, it was but natural that they bonded together very well. And I, being the fifth wheel (and an older one at that) felt out of sorts, disoriented, home-sick and work-pressurized.
The first week in Edinburgh was a revelation of sorts - never had I encountered a city with a weather as variable as this! As soon as I stepped off the plane, I was hit by an icy blast of cold wind; it was February. My thick jacket was no match for the icy droughts of wind and soon I was shivering lightly. It was only later that one of my (UK) colleagues advised me keep my ears and neck warm - that was the mantra to ward of cold. Pretty soon, thermals, sweater, jacket, topi and a muffler became part of my daily ensemble to anywhere outside our apartment. NB promptly let me know that I looked like a watchman with all that padding!
The intital feeling was homesickness was soon replaced by a sense of adventure and enthusiasm as I started discovering the city. Because of its historic significance, Edinburgh had quite a few tourist attractions. But first, I familiarized myself with the surroundings of my apartment - each street initially looked the same to me. But then again, it was fun getting lost and discovering new routes (as long as I was not hungry!). I roamed the streets, discovering and re-discovering, and reveled in the feeling of independence that any earning, independent woman develops when she's on her own.
It was in Edinburgh that I discovered quite a few things about myself - my through inability to stand the cold weather, my inclination towards bright clothes (sweaters, tops, mufflers, you name it!), my (very fierce) sense of independence, my ability to cook (ahem.....strictly based on the opinion of my room-mates), the travel freak within me, my passion for photography, my sense of adventure, my likes, my dislikes, my social skills (or the lack of it), my learning curve, my professionalism, and my ability to anticipate. I discovered that I was not shy (as I had originally assumed), just an introvert, very much liking to be by myself rather than any forced company. And the latter trait remains pretty much the same till date :-)!
This trip holds a very special place in my heart because it was a major turning point in my life.....one which changed the very outlook of the way I envisaged my future. It opened a door into a world which I had never imagined to be a part of. Thanks to the experience, I developed a sense of direction and a hunch to explore the same. I came in contact with some wonderful people, who influenced me in more than one ways, and some not so wonderful ones, whom I am better off without :-)! It was an eye-opener in more than one way, both about life and people. I learnt to make some tough decisions and not to regret them. After all, better way could you discover other than traveling and unraveling the maze ;-) ?