Category: Personal

The paradox of choice


I’m sitting in front of my laptop, researching all the places to go and all the amazing cultures to explore. I look up fares for flights to different continents, different dates and different cities within a country. I venture through all the accommodation sites; comparing the possible hostels, hotels or Airbnb places. After days of research, you know where I end up traveling and spending the night? Nowhere.

I’m trying to decide what I want to study and what kind of profession I want to have when I graduate. I end up deciding to study psychology and try to find a job as some kind of community or social worker. I made a choice. But what do I get? Doubt. Insecurities. Dissatisfaction with my final decisions.

What’s at the base of these results of not making any choice at all or being unhappy after finally deciding to stick to one thing? The abundance of choices.

In “The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less” Barry Schwartz explains why the increase of options leads to less satisfaction with our decision or may cause paralyses which results in making no choice at all. This all feels contradictory with the modern idea that freedom of choice and being able to make your own decision about what you buy, how you look, your way of life, your partner and everything else is the ultimate goal and what makes us happy. Of course, there is some truth in the idea that having choices has a positive impact. It is linked to our sense of autonomy, which is one of the basic human needs (something I explained in previous blogposts) and fundamental to our happiness.

“Learning to choose is hard. Learning to choose well is harder.
And learning to choose well in a world of unlimited possibilities is harder still, perhaps too hard.”
― Barry Schwartz, The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less

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Coming back is not the same as never leaving – the hardest part of studying abroad

Studying abroad. Leaving your safe nest to move away for 6 months, maybe a year, maybe longer. Most of the students at this point are still dependent on their parents or financial aid. The majority of the expats isn’t used to fixing problems themselves, keeping their finances in check and figuring everything out on their own. It’s not their fault, our student years are supposed to be carefree before we have to dive into the real, working world. But suddenly you’re dropped in a strange city and while they promise you can rely on the support of the university, in reality you’re on your own. Some get lost for a little while. Others love the freedom and just roll with the punches. What if I told you that taking the big step and moving to a different country isn’t the hardest part of studying abroad? What if I told you having to leave again and moving back ‘home’ is way worse?

“Coming back is not the same as never leaving.” – Terry Pratchett

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Beyond Borders – Make me a travel blogger!

Moest je me leren kennen via mijn blog, zou je al snel merken dat er twee constanten in mijn leven zijn:

  • Ik ben altijd op zoek naar een nieuw avontuur.
  • Ik ben altijd blut.

En volgens mij is er een duidelijk oorzakelijke relatie tussen de twee. Ondertussen heb ik al veel trial-and-errors achter de rug en ben ik er nog niet in geslaagd rijker van een reis terug te keren. Rijker in de letterlijke zin van het woord weliswaar. We weten allemaal dat hetgeen je terug brengt na een tijd in een ander land, niet te meten valt in euro’s. Of dollars. Of ponden. Of real. Of pesos. Of welke vreemde munteenheid je deze keer ook hebt moeten uitpluizen. Iedereen die al een tijdje op reis is geweest, door een land heeft getrokken of een uitwisselingsproject achter de rug heeft, weet dat de ervaring het geld zeker waard is.

Maar wat als ik voor een keer helemaal geen geld hoef neer te leggen voor een fantastisch avontuur? Ik zou wel gek zijn om die kans niet met beide handen te grijpen. Daarom neem ik met deze blogpost deel aan de wedstrijd om als travel blogger mee te gaan met Beyond Borders op roadtrip door Zwitserland en Italië! Het moet nu net lukken dat ik deze week mijn rijbewijs heb behaald! It’s obviously meant to be!

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But what is it, travel psychology?

Welcome (back)!

Maybe I started a bit too excited with my introduction and first blogpost. I decided to dive right in instead of thinking it through a bit further and providing you with additional background information. Because that is me; spontaneous. Sometimes a bit impulsive. That’s why you might find some spelling mistakes from time to time (yes, I can use this personality trait as an excuse!) But it’s truly how I am though. If a new, adventurous opportunity arises, I would grab it with both hands the minute it does… And then I’ll start to think about it and realize maybe it’s not such a great idea…
I experience this in every aspect of my life. When I see something tasty to eat, I can’t control myself. When I see somebody juggling or slacklining, I want to learn it too! These two last things are two examples of things I did stick with. Most of the time, I get excited for a few moments, maybe days and then I rationalize it and put the enthusiasm aside. I can’t seem to find the time and courage to actually go through with it. So while I am impulsive in my reactions, I overthink everything. And in the end, I take very little action and sometimes end up regretting this.

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Welcome to un(t)raveling the mind!

Well hello there! You’re the first people who wandered into my blog!
I’m very curious which magic way led you to this moment…

But first: welcome, welcome to the next chapter of my life!
I am Renate, 22 years old and living in Belgium (some people refer to it as a city but it really is a country! A tiny one, that’s true). I am currently finishing my Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and just ended my internship in a special youth care facility. This means that in a few months, I’ll officially be a psychologist! This also means I have some big decisions ahead and I have no idea what I’m going to do or where I am going to end up. The only thing I know is that I love two things: the human mind and traveling. Okay no, it would be quite sad to only love two things. Maybe writing too. And music. And food, lots of food. And staying up with random people, talking about the meaning of life and suddenly realizing it’s morning. And stars. And nature. And singing along with very bad songs. But mostly the first two. So I figured; what better way than to combine my two passions into a blog?!

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