It may seem hard to get out of your comfort zone, mas once you are no longer there, you’re a free person!

​When I was a little girl, my parents used to host many exchange students in my house, and I used to look at them like a real dreamer, totally fascinated by their own way of communicating with us, the way that trivial things on our routine were so exotic to them, the funny clothes they’d wear, the weird food they’d eat, the kind of jokes they would laugh about… everything was interesting, and I grew up dreaming about exploring where all those people came from. But I was always in a comfort zone.

Coming from a small town in the south of Brazil, I was always expected to have a conventional career and life. Although my parents are very open to new cultures, it has never been easy to come out with this new idea of a free life I had.

I’ve always been passionate about all types of communication: images, words, mimics, languages, cultures; everything that could be turned into something bigger. I’ve graduated in Graphic Design and worked for several years as an Art Director, and even tough I was a bit frustrated with my professional life, I believed that would be my career and I left aside my passion for photography… well, at least until the moment I decided to run away from my comfort zone.

I reckon that the adage “A picture is worth a thousand words”, is the main reason why I became a travel photographer, yet, I believe words and photography both work a lot better when they come together, so it might be better to write a little more about myself:

Almost five years ago, I decided to live in a place that would bring me a cultural shock, a place where I would face difficulties and extreme feelings. I decided to allow myself to experience everything that was different and out of my comfort zone.

So there I was, in India. It has been a while, but all the senses of being there all by myself seem to be fresher in my memory than trying to describe what I had for lunch yesterday. I arrived there with no expectations whatsoever, thinking I would be grateful to find a roof over my head and a bed to sleep on by the end of the day. At that time, whenever I had a proper shower instead of a tiny bucket to bathe myself with, I was feeling fancy.

That struggle became little once I realized I was there being able to see elephants, cows, camels and monkeys on my random way to work. It was paradoxically beautiful as synaesthesia: the smell of colors and taste of prays; exactly the way it should be. I was living under conditions that I couldn’t even imagine before. I never thought that I would feel so great doing something that sounds so different… but I did. 

While experiencing all those different senses, I found myself struggling to find a new way to express myself. It took me a while but it finally dawned on me that photography was my way of communicating, it was the worldwide language I’ve always searched for.

Then I realized that the world is not as obvious as we think it is. I went to Nepal to hike close to the Everest and I ended up seeing baby elephants in the middle of the jungle. I went to Malaysia and discovered my passion for Chinese tea. I went to Thailand and found out that sticky rice with mango and ice cream is a delicious combination.

I crossed to Laos travelling in a slow boat for two days and, somehow, I didn’t feel tired. I went to Vietnam and learned that I would need a lot more than one million to become a millionaire. I went to Singapore and learned that chewing gum can be forbidden. I went to China and I felt like playing “Pictionary” with strangers on the street. I went back home to realize that home was where my heart was and that my heart could be anywhere.

My desire to make my living out of these experiences started to grow stronger, so I finally decided to give it a try and I started to spread my words on a travel blog, and I’ve kept on going… I couldn’t stop!  I went to Uruguay to spend New Year’s, I went to Chile for a mountain haven during carnival, I went to Colombia to check how the never-ending spring is like and I went to Cuba to get to know where the best music and dance come from.

I went to a lot of other places but then, of course, I’ve heard some people saying that a person needs a lot of money to travel the world, so I decided to prove them wrong and I’ve embraced a 5 miles hitchhiking journey with no money or credit cards whatsoever from Brazil all the way down to Patagonia in the southernmost part of the planet, only selling or exchanging my photography work for some food and a place to sleep.
As we all know, that can get pretty addictive, so you can easily conclude why I am here writing on behalf of Worldpackers community. After my last adventure to Patagonia experiencing what it was like to simply trust people, I got fascinated by this other kind of living so I started to look for a way of having my home anywhere I would go, yet, working with what I love to do, exchanging my skills and meeting amazing people from all over the world.

Worldpacking is not about leaving my home; it’s about leaving my habits behind and stepping out of the bubble in which we live.

Out here, the lack of vanity becomes beauty, discomfort turns into privilege, and the unknown becomes culture. If beauty really is in the eyes of the beholder, then traveling is what it takes to give you a new perspective.

I once believed I could make a positive impact in people’s life. As it turns out, I realized that I can’t really change people, but I can allow the world to change me instead. Worldpack your life! 🙂

All photos by the Worldpacker ©Patricia Schussel
Instagram @patchinpixels

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