I suffer from a long term chronic illness which affects my health severely. In 2009 I was convinced to get away from my home town and start anew in North Queensland. The move initially helped but after the excitement of a new place wore off my health continued to degrade. Soon I could not concentrate on anything, I slept most of the time, and I was continuously fatigued. As a result my first semester of grades from university suffered dramatically. I decided I needed to do something drastic to try and change what was happening to me. Around the same time I was perusing the internet looking for answers I received an email. It was asking for applications to an archaeological ceramics program in Italy. I applied in the heat of the moment, thinking there is no way I would be accepted, let alone able to fund such a trip. I applied anyway and before I knew it I was on a plane to Rome.
I was a mere 19 years old on my first ever international adventure, solo. Needless to say I was extremely anxious to land in Rome and get to the small commune I would be staying at, about 1 hour northwest of Rome. The town I was heading to was San Gemini, known for its healing water (at the time I did not know this). When I arrived at San Gemini, around midnight, I had no idea of the surrounds and was very tired from my long 40 hour journey, so I just went to bed. When I awoke I looked out of the window above my bed and was surprised to learn that my bedroom was at the top of the village and overlooked the entire valley and beyond. It had been the most beautiful site I had ever seen. This particular site gave me this feeling inside – this indescribable feeling that has lead to what I now recognise as wanderlust.
The six (not very long) weeks I was in Italy, I felt alive. I was not fatigued, I was not anxious, I did not have an inability to concentrate, and I slept with absolute ease. I visited as many places as I could, attended as many cultural events as I could, and ate as much pizza and gelato as I could. I felt what real freedom feels like. This random spur of the moment decision to leave everything I knew and experience a whole new world had actually begun to heal me. I had no symptoms. Other than my chronic illness practically disappearing, my acne was gone, and my hair and nails were healthy. It was completely new to me. I originally put it down to the travel experience, but now after learning more about San Gemini’s history, I believe it had something to do with the water. This healing mineral water is even bottled and shipped around the world. After getting back to Australia, my health started to deteriorate again. It was upsetting to say the least. I decided that I would travel as much as possible for the rest of my life so that I never lost that feeling. Travel for me is hope. Hope that I will not always feel like I can’t do anything. Whenever I get down I think about that first international trip I took and remember that this illness is not permanent and there is hope.
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