Returning to a world where I no longer belong?


Sandra Roxendal writes about coming back to your homecountry after long travels. ”I feel like I’m going back to a home I won’t recognize. I’m not sure what frightens me the most. Returning to the same world I once escaped, or returning to a world where I no longer belong?”

Two and a half year has passed since I left my hometown Lund, in Sweden, behind. When I said goodbye to beloved friends and family to enter the big world. When I at last bordered Norwegians flight that’d brought me to Bangkok and a world of adventures. Towards a different life. Today I’m sitting on that same plane. Watching ’Ruby Sparks’ on the tiny screen, the very same movie I watched on that first flight. I feel the same excitement overtaking my body as I did back then, but this time in combination with anxiety. This time it’s different because time I’m going back.

Magic sunset in Monkey Mia in Western Australia. Photo: Sandra Roxendal

I remember entering Australia two months into my trip with all it’s charm catching me in an instant. I had got my backpack stolen by the pier in Bali and reached Australia without any belongings. I had got my cash stolen on a night bus between Bangkok and Koh Tao so I reached Australia with no money. But still I reached Australia with the biggest smile on my face. I had manage to find what is more important than what any money can buy; Happiness and freedom.

”There’s nothing more exciting than to stand alone in a foreign land, challenging all doubts and manage”.

In Australia I found myself in life situations beyond my imagination. Living on a farm in the outback, climbing orange trees as a living.

Finding my home away from home in Melbourne. Creating a family in Alice springs living in a tent during the cold, desert winter. Hitchhiking and couch surfing in the lack of money. To Australia I gave away all my love, all the money I had and a strong will to work. I builded up a life from scratch. I created new homes and families. I found an income, a circle of friends and a hobby. Like playing The Sims, but in reality.

Sandra and her friend Stina left Gold Coast in Australia hitchhiking. Photo: Sandra Roxendal

I can hear the screams of a baby a few rows behind me on the flight as my 3rd movie ended and I rest my head to sleep. I find it harder than usual and my minds keep traveling down the memory lane. I don’t want it to end. I feel like the time have passed like a blink of an eye. Wasn’t it just yesterday I was sipping cocktails surrounded by palm trees on the beautifully white sanded beach of Gili island? Wasn’t it just yesterday I hit the tube down the river, or swam with whale sharks in the Philippines?

With the Scandinavian winter only a few hours away I get reminded of all that I’m leaving behind. And it overwhelms me at once. The joy I was feeling when I reached the 5 000 meter top of Gokyo Ri in the Himalayas, breathing in the view over Everest. The indescribably experience of traveling India together with 5 local boys and the strong love the country brought me. The hitching and hiking across the beautiful scenery in New Zealand. But most of all I get reminded of all the amazing individuals I’ve met along the way. Whom I did not know 2,5 years ago but today would call best friends.

During my travels I have looked fear in the eye more than once. I have faced a 134 meter free fall while bungy jumping. I have got into strangers cars, have been robbed more than once and been sexually harassed. I have free climbed 20m rocks, got lost alone in dodgy alleyways and fought deadly snakes. And never have I faced a fear as great as the one that comes with the realisation of returning home. My brother have just had a baby with a lovely girl I have never met, making me an aunt for the first time. My little brothers teenage years have passed. My mother have moved out from the apartment I use to live in during my high school years. None of my belongings awaits as I got rid of them all before I left. Most of my old friends have all moved away.  I feel like I’m going back to a home I won’t recognize. I’m not sure what frightens me the most. Returning to the same world I once escaped, or returning to a world where I no longer belong?

Anisakan Falls outside the village Phyn oo Lwyn in, Myanmar. Photo: Sandra Roxendal

I use to believe that I’d reach a point where I’d feel done with traveling. Like it was something I needed to get out of my system before putting an end on that part of my life and be ready to return home. I realize now however that I’ll never be ready. Traveling for me wasn’t just something I needed to get out of the way with. It was something I needed to open my eyes and welcome the world with all its opportunities. It was something I needed for personal development and world-wide wisdom.

I’m going home today to face the world I once escaped. Because I can’t run away forever. The more I think about it the more sense it makes. I left in the clique quote of ’finding myself’ and I can truly say that I’ve done so. Even if there are still parts to be found. I have so much knowledge and experiences to bring with me for the rest of my life in which I will always find comfort. My future lays in my hands and in my hands only. The greatest adventure are still awaiting. There’s no need to cross the world to be free and happy. Freedom for me is to follow my dreams and my instincts. Only then will I find happiness.

Sandra is back in Sweden but will continue writing about all her travels around the world. And of course she is already planning her next trip. Who knows where…




  1. I met Sandra and Stina when I took them from Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast. I really enjoyed this story. I hope you don’t mind me sharing this on my travel blog.

  2. Hej! Jag är också från Lund och har också backpackat. Jag kom hem i april förra året och försökt hitta min väg här hemma. Ibland är jag riktigt glad här med, men det känns som min lycka kommer enklare fram i andra delar av världen, där uppskattning ser annorlunda ut.

    Läste att du nämnde att det var att fly. Och jag har också slitits mycket i det begreppet. Skulle det vara flykt om jag gav mig ut igen, eller är det helt enkelt bara en väg till ett ställe jag har det bättre? Man gör sin egen lycka, och jag hittar också min livlina i att följa min egna vilja, men jag märker att det inte är helt rogivande.

    Allt jag väljer att plugga är en biljett ut. Allt jag intresserar mig för är samhällskritiskt. Men jag undrar om det inte är så att det är fullt okej att ta avstånd från detta moderna samhälle?

    Kram och tack för en bra bloggtext.
    Lycka till med lyckan! 🙂
    Lund är ingen dålig stad.

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