Author Interview - Suzanne BhaganLearn more the author
Suzanne is from Trinidad and Tobago; she earned her travelers' stripes early. She studied law at Warwick University and also majored in literature (with a minor in linguistics) at the University of the West Indies. After working full-time for a couple of years, she decided to move to Japan to teach English as part of the JET program. Suzanne is currently a full time freelance writer and journalist.
"For me, “home” is a fluid concept. Home is not where I am but who I’m with."
At GoAbroad, we’re all meaningful travel experiences. Share with us your most meaningful experience to date. What made it meaningful?
That’s a tough one. I think every travel experience is meaningful. Instead, I’ve realized that the sum of my travel experiences so far has changed how I think travel. For example, when I went on my first round the world trip in 2004, I thought it was so cool to zip through a lot of countries within 3 months and tick them off my bucket list. At the time, I didn’t realize how narcissistic and privileged I may have appeared to my friends and family back home and to the locals I met on the road. Now, I’ve realized that responsible travel is not how many countries you visit or how many selfies you take but whether you can genuinely connect to a place and its people.
Which country, other than your home country, would you consider home and why? What makes a place feel like “home?”
For me, “home” is a fluid concept. Home is not where I am but who I’m with. I’d say the closest I ever felt to “home” outside of the Caribbean was at university in England. At 19, fresh out of an all girls’ high school and armed with a full scholarship, I got on a plane bound for Heathrow. It was my first time traveling abroad alone and living on my own. Before long, I gained a motley tribe of friends from all corners of the globe. Four years flew by and leaving everyone behind to return to my home country was one of the toughest things I ever had to do.
What is the strangest, most unexpected life lessons you’ve learned while traveling?
The most unexpected life lesson I’ve learned while traveling is that everyone’s basically the same. Once you get beneath the surface, you realize that in spite of nationality, religion or ethnicity, everyone is universally human with roughly the same goals: to find someone to love and to succeed or “make it” in life.
As a world traveler, what are your tried and true methods for combating homesickness? The people want to know!
The worst thing you can do is dive into a pool of nostalgia and close yourself off from the society you’re in. I’ve found that the best cure for homesickness is to look beyond yourself and to make meaningful connections with the people you encounter on the road. Maybe you can share a meal featuring a favorite recipe from your country. If that doesn’t help and you still need to touch base with the folks at home, Skype is a lifesaver!