It’s been one month since I returned to the US from Ireland and the UK. In the past 10 months I’ve visited five counties and I don’t see myself slowing down anytime soon. In fact, I am in the process of planning a two week trip to Switzerland and hoping to volunteer in New Zealand in December. Each time I travel abroad or go somewhere I haven’t been in the US, I find that I hope to stay a little longer. I want to immerse myself in the community of which I am a guest. Last April, I went to Florence for a week and I recently spent nine days between Ireland, England, and Scotland from the end of December through the first week of January. By the end of 2017 I’ll have visited my top five places visit and a few in between.
All I know is that I want to keep traveling. I want to keep learning from other cultures. I want to live in places that are completely different than where I’ve grown up and I want to know what other people experience. On my fourth night in Florence, I laid in bed and listened to From Finner by Of Monsters and Men. I roamed the cobblestone streets of Dublin while listening to Ego Loss of Grand River Avenue by Joe Hertler and The Rainbow Seekers. I listened to Sunshine by Pusha T in a London Cafe. I teared up at how beautiful the Boboli Gardens were in the Palazzo Pitti. I had fish and chips from a street cafe in Paddington. I ate pizza in the middle of Piccadilly Circus. I had conversations with bakery owners and an attorney from Argentina, an oil rig engineer from Australia, a girl who works in Grand Rapids, Ireland, a surgeon from Chile, a jovial women Ghana, a reserved man Kenya, a oceanography student from France, teachers from Canada and England, a mechanical engineer from German, an international student studying women studies from Finland, a finance manager from Switzerland who traveled to African countries months at a time and a couple who had retired from South Africa. I had gelato while watching the sunset from Michelangelo’s Square. I stood at the Cliffs of Moher and on the edge of the Burren while overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. I slept in hostels, ran in the rain, lived out of a backpack, road coach buses up the Atlantic coast through rural towns in Ireland and I’ve taken trains up and down the Scottish coast while listening to Stay Alive by Jose Gonzalez from the Secret Life of Walter Mitty soundtrack .
Traveling as a way of changing you. You become more confident in your decision making abilities. You learn to trust yourself and others. You recognize that you have to say no to somethings because you know that your experience will end and the only question that crosses your mind is, “why would I do that if I don’t want to do it?” You begin to understand that plans change regardless of how prepared you are. Imagine flying halfway across the world to a place that doesn’t speak your native language and your luggage doesn’t arrive until halfway through your trip? You adapt and keep going. You make the most of your experiences. You begin to feel like you don’t need as many things when you come home. You feel the need to get ride of literally anything that is of no functional use or holds no significant sentimental value. You begin to see that less is okay and that simplicity is a beautiful thing. Seriously, you’ve lived out of a backpack for at least a week. You begin to understand that your are capable of more than you may have originally felt your were. I share this only to say that these songs, these places, the people I’ve met, these moments are all a part of me and have led me to inspiration that I could never find anywhere else. These experiences will last me a lifetime and there are more to be had. TAKE THE TRIP, SAVE THE MONEY, PACK A BAG, MAKE THE TIME, GO GO GO! IT’S WORTH IT!