The first time I felt like this, I was 21 and on a plane to Honduras. In my hand I had a 12-month round-the-world ticket with a completely open itinerary. I had put my backpack in the baggage hold and said goodbye to my friends and family. For many months I was leaving everything I had ever seen or known behind me to break new ground. Granted, I was a little nervous because there was no one who could share experiences of a similar trip in my social circles. But as my flight took off, the indescribable feeling of freedom that overcame me confirmed that I had made the right decision.
Even then I did not realise that this feeling of new beginnings into the unknown would lead me to purchase one-way tickets to New Zealand (where I stayed for 18 months), four tickets to Antarctica, and trips to the most remote volcanoes on the planet. To those who feel as if the walls are caving in on them when they stay at home, I can recommend one-way tickets to the unknown – but let me warn you that it can be addictive.
An important part of freedom is of course, knowing that you can return home at the end of a trip. I am convinced that you have to leave your home behind to really appreciate it and realise how beautiful your home really is. This applies to astronauts as well as backpackers on foot .
This morning in my Cologne apartment I packed my suitcase for the last time during my 4-year training period. It is only half-full. I said goodbye to my family and friends who I would not see for the next seven months, which was not easy of course . I am writing this on a plane to Moscow, my second-to-last-stop on my route into space. In my hand a I have a one-way ticket into the unknown, and the feeling of freedom is indescribable – just as it was when I was 21.
This blog entry was translated from Alexander Gerst’s original text in German.