top of page

I Purchased a one-way ticket to South America and haven't looked back since...

In this blog, I will share my complete story: from being an expat to an international student with a scholarship, then a refugee, to a solo traveler, and now a global nomad.

Toronto 2020

My life story didn't begin in 1997 when I was born; it actually started in 2015, and as I write this on January 15, 2024, I can hardly believe the journey of the past 9 years.

Before starting into how I purchased a one-way ticket to Colombia on December 7, 2022, deciding to leave Canada after 7 years of trying to make it my home, let me share a bit about where I come from.

Born and raised in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with Syrian roots, I grew up in a Syrian household immersed in its culture and values. Despite this, I never felt a strong sense of belonging – not truly Syrian, nor fully Emirati. I am of course proud of my Middle Eastern identity and my Syrian heritage yet I do struggled with questions of identity, especially after becoming a Canadian citizen in 2023. For the first time, I felt that a country cared about me, ready to have my back in times of need.

Now, let's rewind to 2015, the pivotal year. At the age of 17, having graduated from high school, my father financial strgggles prevented me from enrolling in AUD American University in Dubai.

During that time… 

The civil war in Syria was escalating; my grandmother sought refuge in Turkey, and since she was alone there, my dad was worried about her, that opened up an opportunity for me to study there since Turkish universities were offering Syrian students to complete their education for affordable prices. After begging my conservative father to let me travel to study there and start my education, he did finally say yes under one condition: to take care of my grandmother.

After Arriving in Turkey on October 13, 2015, I spent a year and a half studying Turkish and preparing for the SAT to gain admission to the Mechanical Engineering program. 

While living in Turkey, I worked as a translator for a non-profit organization, supporting Syrian newcomers fleeing the horrible war. In June 2016, while applying to universities across Turkey, fate intervened. I was referred by someone who worked at the same organization to Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, a Canadian-Palestinian doctor who were offering a scholarship at that time.

He was in town, and fortunate for me, it happened to be his last day in Gaziantep. That's when I unexpectedly met him, had an amazing interview, and bid him farewell without knowing if our paths would cross again.

In July 2016, with uncertain hopes, I applied to 44 universities across Turkey, eventually getting accepted into five with the program I desired. Yet, a twist awaited me – an acceptance to study in Canada. Disbelieving but determined, I informed my family and moved to Canada on February 9, 2017.

My journey in Canada involved studying English, working various jobs to survive, obtaining permanent residence in 2019, and eventually graduating from York University with a Health Studies Honours Bachelor degree in 2022. 

Same month of graduating I got hired with a remote medical insurance company. 
After six months of my job I realized I could work from anywhere in the world.

In September 2022, I visited my aunt in Paris and discovered the freedom of working globally. This trip led me to go back to Canada, sell everything, buy a one-way ticket to Cartagena, Colombia, on December 7, 2022, and start the nomadic lifestyle. Since then, I've lived in Colombia, Mexico, Costa Rica, UAE, Georgia, Turkey, France, and more.

TravelwithRaneem Instagram page, this blog, and my new podcast Living Beyond Borders wouldn't exist if I hadn't chosen to step out of my comfort zone. Leaving behind everything I built over the past 7 years in Canada—my friends, and much more—I realized that I've experienced enough of Canada. It's time for me to see more of this amazing world. 

& before I end my story here

despite what you are going through today and all the challenges, remember that the end of the tunnel is bright. Be grateful for those who supported you, and never stop believing in yourself. Your journey may be tough, but when you look back, you'll be proud of your resilience.

Sending you so much love <3

You GOT this!!!

Additional links:

13 views0 comments


bottom of page