7 minutes reading time (1395 words)

Crossing Paths – Lillian Lai- Student, Traveler and so much more

I'm starting something new on the blog today. Today I want to start sharing stories with you about people. People I meet while I travel, people who cross my path day to day. This new section of the blog will focus on how I met these people and how their stories impact me.

We all make connections with other people every day. The question I have for you is, are you really connecting with those people? Or do you maybe overlook them in your rush to get to work, see your kids or get to your final destination?

One of the amazing things about travel is the people you get to meet. No matter where in the world you go there will be people. People who have stories, traditions and knowledge they want to share. Take advantage of this when you can. Learning about people, culture, and history from people who were there will help give you a better understanding of the place you are in. It will also change you in ways you can't begin to understand until it happens.

For those who know me, this probably seems a little unlike me to you because I'm an extreme introvert. You're reading this and thinking "She's lost her mind, she doesn't ever go out of her way to meet people" and for the most part, that was/ is true.

I am an extreme introvert.

On the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, I got the highest score possible on introversion. However, one of the great things about solo travel is you sort of have to talk to other people. You have to because no one else is there to help you find your way, or tell you the best lunch spot in town. No one is holding your hand and telling you where to go, so you're left to figure it out yourself. This leads to asking locals questions, meeting up with fellow travelers or asking Siri and google to help you. I'm still an introvert and always will be but I'm now making a conscious effort in my life to get to know people. To learn their stories and I'm going to use this blog to share those people and their stories with you.

When I was in Ireland I took a day trip to Carrick-a-Reed Rope Bridge ( http://www.ch.slkits.ca/blog/carrick-a-rede-rope-bridge). On this trip, I met a woman who just so happened to have grown up in Canada (It's amazing just how many Canadians you will run into as you travel). Her name is Lillian Lai and in a very short time, we were kidding around, joking about the weather and chatting about how amazing solo travel is (and travel in general).

Over the next couple of days, we got to know each other and explored Ireland together. I learned that Lilly had been born in Seattle and raised in Vancouver (so I jokingly said she must be used to the rain). Lilly was in Ireland because her school was on a short break and since she is currently working on her Masters Degree in Scotland, Ireland seemed like a great place to check out on her short time off.

(I have to admit I was a little sad that I was not able to check out Scotland while I was over there)

As we chatted I learned that she was indeed used to the rain because Scotland, like Ireland and Vancouver, gets a lot of rain. She told me about how when she first got to school she learned to not carry an umbrella because the wind is so strong it will just break. (Good advice to have before I go to Scotland).

Lilly told me a little about her family and I asked her about traveling. Turns out we both love to travel, a lot. Like myself, she isn't 100% sure what her next step in life will be but she does plan on traveling some more once she finishes school. She started traveling with her family and that lead her to take an overseas program for school because she had been bitten by the travel bug.

When I asked her if she would be okay with me featuring her on my blog she didn't hesitate. She told me "One of the things I love most about traveling is making connections all over the world."

Lilly has an amazing spirit that just lights up the room. Being around her (even the day we got rained out of every place we went) was an amazing, happy, fantastic experience. I was so glad to have met her while I was in Ireland. Her family means the world to her and she values every minute of life. When I asked her "What's the one thing you would like to accomplish in this life?" Her response sounded very similar to my own and I couldn't help but feel a small sense of kinship with the young women who I had just met. "I want to make a difference," she said. Like myself, she is still trying to figure out exactly how to do that in this world. "Traveling the world is a good way to start to try and figure it out. It opens your eyes to other perspectives and what sort of problems are out in the world today."

I spoke to her last week via email and she was off to enjoy a couple of days away from school in the Highlands before she finishes her 15,000-word dissertation.

Before she left I asked her a few question to be able to put on the blog, when she sent me her responses I couldn't help but feel like I had connected with another soul similar to mine. That is one of the great things about traveling the world, you find lots of people who have a similar mindset, similar goals, similar hopes and dreams for the world.

This is a photo of Lilly from the day she and I visited The Cliffs of Moher. As you can see it was a wet, cloudy day but the beauty of this place far outweighed the cold, wet weather.

When I asked Lilly "What advice do you have for people around the world?" she gave me an answer that encompasses how I'm trying to live my life.

"Be Happy. It's easy to fixate on bad things, things that haven't been done, ect., and people tend to think happiness can only be found in big moments (ie. the big promotion, the new car/house) but life is full of little moments that bring happiness. A sunny day. The smell of fresh coffee in the morning. Cute dogs on the street. A stranger holding the door for you…."

With all of the events unfolding around the world this week, it can be easy to get caught up in the chaos but it also reminds us to do exactly what Lilly suggests. Enjoy the moments we can, when we can.

"Nothing is promised, not one day"

When I asked Lilly "What is the best advice you have ever been given?" She gave me an answer that I thought we could all benefit from.

"Be brave and be yourself. Life is full of surprises, the world can be a scary place, but you are strong enough to handle anything, so don't be afraid to try new things, get out of your comfort zone, and do whatever it is that makes you happy." (this was advice her father had given her, and as is the case with the above advice, I think it is especially powerful advice in light of recent events).

Meeting Lilly helped me to be less of an introvert, even if it was only for a few days. She taught me that even though life has it cloudy, wet moments, it also has beautiful, sunny, perfect moments if we are willing to open our eyes and see them. Days that are so beautiful and sunny you get a sunburn while walking the cliffs in Ireland. Days where the person in front of you pays for your coffee at Timmies. Days where someone at work leaves you a note to let you know you're appreciated.

Meeting Lilly reminded me of all of that. It also helped to solidify how much I love to travel. I love to see new places and explore new cultures because the one great thing about travel is the number of people you meet from all walks of life with different views and beliefs.

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Sunday, 16 June 2019
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