Dating the World, One Small City at a Time

You live your life, 20, 30, 50, 90 years, sometimes only in one city, and you still don’t go on top of that famous mountain or eat at the corner restaurant all the tourists chatter about. It’s a 20-minute walk from your apartment, but you think,

what’s the point? I can go there anytime, this is my permanent.

But that’s the point, you won’t. You only do those things when you leave your city. You climb every height, eat every meal, make the most of every moment and forget to check your phone every hour because you leave it on airplane mode. Why do we only indulge in the foreign? Why not go to cheap bars in your own city and buy a pretty postcard of the skyline at sunset every so often? They say you have to love yourself before you can love another so why not do the same for your surroundings?

I often tell people to date their city because it’s the best feeling ever to know enough to help a tourist looking for directions. Only because I fully embrace this motto I can wholeheartedly enjoy my summer in Brazil. I can’t even begin to describe how amazing things have been so far. Traveling alone, meeting people, overcoming communication barriers, falling in love with places so deeply that it pains to get back on the plane to a new destination. I don’t know what more to say because if I go on, I can go on and on and on.

After going to Honduras in February this year, I had made up my mind about taking traveling seriously. I saved every penny to put a plane ticket together. I’ve done things, met people, spoke words new to my tongue, and have never been so independent outside my comfort zone. I traded my sweaters and scarves for flip flops and tank tops.

I’m born and raised in Karachi, the metropolitan of Pakistan and lived 10 years in Toronto, where no amount of snow shuts down the work/study/gym grind. Going from these urban giants to a place like Franca, a small town where everyone knows everyone, has been a difficult change. You can actually count the buildings over 3 stories from a height. From 24 hour restaurants in my city to don’t walk alone after sunset in Franca was even worse. To be honest, I do miss my Tim’s cup and the pollution during my TTC commutes but I would not trade this experience for it. For a girl who didn’t know how to do laundry or boil pasta, I’ve come a long way considering I buy groceries in Portuguese. It took me twenty minutes to cut a single mango, so you get the idea.

Teaching a class in Franca, Brazil

Putting the sexy Brazilian food and drinks and music aside, the most rewarding of it all has been meeting some amazing people: the university students, the locals, and the English students I teach. I look forward to going to class and teaching them every day. When push comes to shove and I butcher Portuguese to shreds, we talk through smiles. I’ve never felt so free in a small city which has welcomed me with such a big heart.

I beg you, when you see an opportunity to amplify your horizon, don’t be a fuck boy, work hard and seize it.

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