What’s it like to drop everything to discover the world

It wasn’t easy, but it was necessary.

Gabriel Folli_work exchange_worldpackers

Even though I was born in the city of São Paulo, I spent most of my childhood – from 2-16 – in the state. My life has always had a ton of artistic influences.

Since I was very young, I’ve had lessons for oil painting on canvas, drawing, musical instruments, martial arts (which wouldn’t be called “arts” if they weren’t), web design, at graphic design college, bartending, juggling, photography, tattoo artistry...
Whew! And there have to be some more that I forgot to include.

Even with all of these influences, don’t ask me how, I managed to spend the last four years locked inside cubicles at an office for at least 10 hours a day. Of course, it wasn’t all bad – we can always learn something, and I learned a lot during this time.

It if hadn’t been for the maturity I gained during these last few years, maybe I wouldn’t have made some of the decisions that brought me where I am today.

Every time a saw a video, film, blog, photos, or anything else about people who were dropping everything to go travel, I just kept thinking, “How? Were they spending other people’s money? Were they born rich? Do they have some kind of income that they don’t earn from a traditional job?”

In some cases, I still have these questions, but that’s a subject for another time. This is an experience I needed to have for myself. To travel, discover new places and new cultures, chase my dreams, and refocus my attention on art like I always had.

After some planning, with the support of my family, girlfriend, and friends, I’m now in Europe without plans to return to Brazil. In thinking of how to keep myself occupied and looking to find something valuable, I learned about Worldpackers, and soon arranged two collaborative experiences (which, among other things, depend on the exchange of skills for accommodation), one in Zagreb and the other in Prague.

Right now, I’m just finishing up my time in Zagreb, and about to start in Prague. I can confirm that it’s been a unique and incomparable experience in my life. No salary could ever be as valuable as what I’m getting to know on this journey. There’s no better learning experience than the exchange of experiences, culture, and values. Sometimes it’s conversations that last for hours, sometimes there’s not even enough time to finish your beer, but all of it will stay with me in my memory and experience.

Listening to everyone and hearing where they’ve been, what they recommend and don’t, the difficulties they’ve had and what was easier, every detail of every person’s journey is a life lesson we can learn from.

I met the kinds of people from a Scottish guy who’s been traveling by bicycle across Europe for three months, to a Canadian teacher/professor who gives classes to refugees from all over the world.

In the short time I’ve been here, I’ve already had the chance to meet people from at least 10 different countries, with all the cultural knowledge they all bring with them, which would be impossible to describe in these few lines. For me, this is an even bigger deal because I’ve always been a reserved and shy person.

My development in this area has been something really valuable for me because I’m “obliged” to communicate and put myself out there more. No kind of big change to our habits like this is ever easy, but when we see what we gain from it, it always brings us a ton of satisfaction and eternal gratitude.

And that’s not even to mention the things that touch us at every place we go. I saw that every city has its own charm, that certain people demonstrate.

Every place makes a different impression on different people. So even if someone tells you that somewhere is horrible, don’t just take their word for it before seeing it for yourself. That’s the only way to get a real feeling for any given place.

During almost three months in Europe, I’ve had the opportunity to see 15 different cities. Not as many as I’d like, but just what I was dreaming of not long ago. There’s still so much to see, but after feeling suffocated for so long during the last few years, the only thing I have to say is: it’s possible and much easier than you imagine.

Does it require effort? Yes. Planning? Yeah. Is it worth it? Absolutely. No amount of money can compare to the experience of traveling. The energy you get when traveling is unique and immeasurable. You’ll learn, mature, and have life experiences that you simply can’t get any other way.

If you want to accompany me on some of my journey, follow me on instagram @gabriel.folli

By the Worldpacker Gabriel Folli

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