In an effort to build some credibility that, yes, I have done some traveling in my life, I will share some of my previous adventures with you.
I have to give credit to my mother and step dad for taking my siblings and I on some pretty epic vacations. We toured a lot of the United States, as well as a little bit of Canada and Mexico throughout my childhood. I also have to give my mom credit for letting me dress like a bad-ass.
Whether it be Colorado, South Dakota, Hawaii, or West Virginia, you know she was there forcing us to go to museums and see monuments to our constant complaining. No matter how much her brat children under appreciated the culture she was providing them, she didn’t let it phase her on her journey to mold some well-rounded and educated children.
As my comfort level grew with airports, long car rides, and trying to keep track of my CD Player (my only saving grace during family road trips), I gained the confidence to break away from my family and look for other travel opportunities.
During high school, I went on a couple music trips, but the real adventure came when I went to France with the French Club for 2 weeks. As French Club President, I felt very confident that I’d be a perfect diplomat on foreign soil.
As you can see, my overconfidence landed me in some pretty rough waters. Eventually, after some rotten fruit was thrown at me, I was allowed to return to my group and finish my tour of the country.
I saw gypsies do cool things.
And of course went to the top of the Eiffel Tower.
I traveled with some very wonderful and hilarious people on that trip, but since it was such a structured tour, I didn’t get to talk to many locals. After returning from France, I accepted defeat. I knew I’d never feel whole again without travel being a significant part of my life.
The following year, I had turned the big 1-8. I was an adult. My step dad and I were riding in the car and he said, “You know, now that you’re 18, you’re an adult. You could do anything, heck you could go to Guam” so once we arrived back home I walked right up to my mother and said “Mom, I’m going to Guam”.
A few short months later, I was on the other side of the world. And, It. Was. Incredible! I can’t even describe the experience, so I’ll just show you.
Finally, the best feature of the small island, the people that I met. I was visiting my step brother who is in the Coast Guard, and he introduced me to some wonderful people who took me around the island and showed me all that there was to offer on that small piece of heaven. Between scuba diving, having a legal beverage at 18 (score!), and sitting in lawn chairs in the shallow water, I can’t think about that vacation without my heart aching a little bit. After two short weeks, I couldn’t imagine leaving such a beautiful peaceful place. I vowed to go back, and am hoping that SE Asia will help fill some of that nostalgia about my favorite vacation so far.
Upon entering college, I knew I’d need to study abroad. I had initially thought I wanted to study in France, but when I realized I would have to wait until my junior year, I decided that England as a sophomore would have to do.
What can I say about my three months in England? I could write for days about all of the experiences I had there and how it changed my life. I guess I have to begin by noting that the people I met while studying there were nothing short of incredible. American friends, English friends, Lithuanian friend, African friends, Canadian friends, there were so many people from different cultures, yet we all connected so easily. I’ll have to write more posts about my time over there, but for now I’ll just share some of my highlights.
I studied in Canterbury, England which was a beautiful little college town. The abundance of youths made for some incredible nightlife. There was always some sort of themed party and the streets were full of people looking to hangout and make friends.
Here are some of said theme parties:
Don’t worry concerned elders, this was merely done for the sake of networking and relationship building! I also learned a lot about British literature, British politics, and British history as well.
We also did some travelling.
We went to Ireland
*there was a ledge below, we’re not that sick.
We went to Amsterdam
I also went to France, Wales, and other places in England. Unfortunately I didn’t like carrying my camera around and have few pictures of any of those places. That made me realize I need to suck it up and deal with lugging a camera around.
Upon returning from England, I was heartbroken. I missed my friends abroad. I missed the other Americans I lived with as well. We had a few reunions and keep in contact every so often, but it’s difficult adjusting to people having graduated and moving on with their adult lives. When I hear about those people continuing to travel and maintain relationships with each other, I feel incredibly happy.
After reflecting on all of my major travels, I realized that the thing I miss most about every place I’ve gone is the people that I shared the experiences with. I don’t remember the names of castles I’ve seen. I don’t remember which restaurants had the best food, but I could tell you at any given point in time how I felt about the people I met. I’ll never stop feeling connected to them. We could meet on the street one day and talk for hours about all of the special times we had together, and that made me realize my goal for travel. When planning a vacation, there is usually a concern about time. I have so many places to see, but not time enough to do everything. When listening to The Amateur Traveler podcast in an episode about India, the woman who had traveled there had noted that India is so overwhelmingly big. She stated you wouldn’t get the most out of your trip if you only go to the most popular tourist sites. She suggested to really reflect on what your interests are and then build your trip around that. Some people are foodies and want to try everything, some people are into music, or scuba diving, or churches, or shopping. I’ve decided my goal for my trip is to really meet some good people, whether it be other travelers or locals. I want to feel connected on a global level to all sorts of people who grew up in very different places culturally, but are also just people who want to have their story heard.
So maybe not wanting to lug the camera around wasn’t such a grave mistake. I was probably living and experiencing people first hand, not through the lens of a camera. I’m sure on future adventures, I’ll want to find a balance between experiencing and documenting. It’s nice to have beautiful pictures to remind you of how the landscape and buildings made you feel, but if not you can rest assured you’ll always remember in your heart how the people made you feel.
Onward and Upward,