Travel Series Part 3 – Nostalgic. Grateful. And Ready to Go Again

12540842_10201492406707521_527030174389840877_n

Imagine coming home after four months of exploration, being fully present, and navigating life in places so unfamiliar that all you could do was stumble around for a while until you found your way? Midge Carter found herself buying tickets for trains with no destination in mind. She hiked mountains, walked out to island after the tide rolled out, and sat at King Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh at sunrise with 16 amazing friends. (Photos at the end).

Today’s blog is about Midge’s four-month journey around Europe. From hot chocolate in Ibiza to longing for Smucker’s All Natural Peanut Butter by the end of her trip, Midge shared with me interesting stories about not wanting to leave, but finally coming to a place where she is grateful for her experiences, but so deeply ready to leave again. (She’s not particular about much, but she is about peanut butter. – “Smucker’s All Natural Peanut Butter or NOTHING”). In France, she found herself wandering around markets before heading out for a solo-hike. “I don’t speak French so I just walked around pointing at things and ended up with a few oranges and a baguette. I hiked up this mountain by myself and I sat on the side of it looking out at the alps… just sitting there like this is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever experienced.”When you’re traveling for months at a time, you experience these peaceful, still moments where it’s just you and the world.

You also find that much of your success is related to the kindness of others. Traveling is deeply revealing – it shows us deepest selves, our strength, our ability to be alone and be happy, and our need to connect wherever we go. “There was one day when two of us met up with two friends for a hike and when we got to the top it was so windy and no one else was around. It was JUST us. It was just the most… it was one of those moments that feels so tangible because it’s so solid when you’re in it and you want to remember it.” These moments aren’t easily forgotten. We hold tightly to the moments where we felt most alive. We remember who was with us, what the air felt like, and how important the people around us were in those moments.

As the trip came to a close the emotions changed. The desire to get off the plane and escape back to a new place grows and grows. “The hardest part was that I didn’t want to be home. Especially because I spent the rest of the summer in the same town I grew up in. It’s like going from doing something interesting every day and all of sudden you’re back in the grind. It’s not like every day there (Europe) was perfect, but it wasn’t every day here.” While listening to Midge share stories of travel and her journey home, I couldn’t help but go back to the moment of landing back in the States after my first trip abroad. That feeling of I could be anywhere in the world right now, why did I come back here sets in. You think of just buying the first ticket out to wherever and going away again. It doesn’t last forever, but it does feel like it will never go away.

After a while, you come to a point where you’ve settled back in. You find that the grind isn’t so bad and you look back on all the memories made with amazing people. “I think I stopped being angry when I felt like I was doing something with my life again… And I’m at a point where I’m nostalgic, and grateful, and ready to go again,” The desire to travel never really goes away after that first trip. It intensifies and staying in familiar places too long starts to feel suffocating, but that’s when you look through old photos, plan your next trip and get on your way.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

All photos were provided by Midge Carter. Midge is studying public relations, a lover of Smucker’s All Natural Peanut Butter, and a fellow Travel enthusiast.

Travel Series Part 2 – A Love Affair with England

The second post in the series is a little different. For the first time, The Big Picture has a Guest Author. Amanda Yats is studying public relations and is a fellow travel enthusiast. This summer she spent a few short weeks exploring England with a few friends. Follow Amanda on Twitter at @amanda_yats and on Instagram at @amandalynn_28. Enjoy!

If you are interested in being a Guest Author for The Big Picture send me a Direct Message (DM) on Instagram: @vince_thurman1 or via email at thurm1vg@gmail.com.

img_5114

Going Abroad- A Love Affair with England

Picture in your head the opening scene from Love Actually – set in London Heathrow airport. Family and friends warmly and lovingly greet one another as they reunite. Hugs and smiles are available in abundance, and Hugh Grant’s voice over is telling you that love actually is all around.

When I stepped out of the baggage claim area into the arrivals gates of London Heathrow, I wasn’t looking for a specific person or embrace, but I felt an immense love for a country and culture I was about to experience for the first time.

Even though my visit in England lasted for a short three weeks, I had fallen in love.

My first few days we rather rough; I had a sinus infection, which didn’t mix well with a six-hour flight. Regardless of my sore throat and congested sinuses, I couldn’t help by marvel at the rolling green hills spotted with sheep, endless Lion candy bars and the Walkers Quavers that we encountered as we drove south away from the bustle of London.

One of my first meals across the Pond was a traditional, full English breakfast. I remember thinking that I would never be satisfied with breakfast back in the States after experiencing such a filling meal.

Along with the delicious food, I admired the differences and similarities of the English culture compared to that of the United States. There were so many seemingly small moments that made me fall in love with life and the world over again during the trip.

img_5216

Here are just a handful:

  • Standing on the beach in Perranporth watching the sun set and kicking around a soccer ball with my professor and classmates
  • Looking over the breathtaking landscape of the English coast while standing where the alleged castle of King Arthur once belonged
  • Having my heart pound in my chest as I jumped onto my first tube in London’s Underground
  • Visiting the spot where the Mayflower departed in Plymouth and eating my first traditional fish and chips meal
  • Getting kicked off the famous lion statue in Trafalgar Square after trying to take far too many photos of the same double decker bus

These moments where just a few snapshot memories that initially come to mind when reflecting back on my trip abroad. I could (and often have) gone on and on to my friends and family about how my time spent experiencing other countries and cultures has positively influenced me.

img_5169

On one of our last nights in England, our professor told us something that I continue to find strikingly true, as well as applicable once someone goes abroad.

He said that once you go abroad, or begin to travel anywhere really, you can never truly come home again. While the place you once called home has stayed mostly the same during your time away, you’ve changed. So therefore the person you were when you left doesn’t come home; the person you are now will come back, but you will never be the same after your experiences.

I think the following quote from the late F. Scott Fitzgerald sums up the idea fairly accurately:

“It’s a funny thing coming home. Nothing changes. Everything looks the same, feels the same, even smells the same. You realize what’s changed is you.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Travel Series Part 1: Preparing to Go Alone – Harrison Watts

Travel Series Part 1 – Preparing to Go Alone – The First Solo Trip

Last week, I had the opportunity to correspond with Harrison Watts, a student at Central Michigan University, who is preparing for a four-month Study Abroad trip to Italy. He’ll be studying at the Florence University of the Arts, in Firenze (Florence), Italy. Solo Travel can spark many emotions ranging from anxiety to great and endless excitement. As your departure date gets closer, you’ll find that the butterflies in your stomach flap their wings a little harder and the exciting to go steadily increases.

Below you’ll find a few responses to an interview between myself and Harrison as he’s been preparing for his extended stay in Italy.

Vincent: Is this your first time traveling abroad alone? If so what are some of the emotions you’ve been feeling?

Harrison: Yes, I am very anxious to leave and experience this trip, but most of all ecstatic. I have never been abroad, so I have no doubt that this will be the trip of a lifetime.” 

Vincent: Why do you think you’re having those feelings?

Harrison: I have never experienced being far away from home for an extended period of time with weak communication and not knowing anyone. I am not a home-body, and I love traveling new places, so I cannot wait for this.

 Vincent: What tips have people given you?

Harrison: People have told me many place to go; Cinque Terre, Venice, Munich (Germany), Dublin (Ireland), Rome, amongst other places. They have given me insights on restaurants, hostels, airlines, food, and other excursions to do. Another tip I received is what to expect from the local community. They told me it was surprising how many people knew English and that they language barrier was only tough occasionally. This definitely relived a lot of worry.

Vincent: Is there a specific aspect of your trip that you are most excited for? 

Harrison: I am very excited for a few classes that I will be taking, as well as new experiences and friendships. I am taking a wine tasting class and I’m already planning weekend trips!

Vincent: If you had ONE piece of advice to give to someone who isn’t sure about going abroad what would it be?

Harrison: LOOK INTO IT.

Author’s Note: Solo Travel is exciting and enlivening! It is an opportunity for discovery, learning, and growth. If you’re afraid of solo travel, find a friend and take them along for the ride, but I’d say one solo trip changes everything!

To follow Harrison’s Journey, feel free to follow him on Instagram @har_watts.

For more Travel and Big Picture updates follow me on Instagram @vince_thurman1

The Big Picture – Update

Between now and the end of 2016, I’ll be sharing a collection of posts in series format. As I become more selective of blog content, I’ll be looking for stories, guest writers, and people to feature. If you’re interested feel free to DM me via Instagram, @vince_thurman1 or Comment on this post.

Over the next three days, I’ll be highlighting three areas of travel ranging from planning your trip to having to come home after a few months of being away.

This week’s series will highlight three friends interested in travel. First, I’ll be highlighting Harrison Watts, who is preparing to leave on a four-month study abroad trip to Florence, Italy, which also happens to be his first Solo-Trip. Next will be Amanda Yats, this week’s guest writer who will share about her Love Affair with England. Finally, Midge Carter will reflect on spending a summer abroad.

coffee

Brew Review: Brew Coffeehouse and Cafe

Lake Michigan is a sight for sore eyes this fall. Early Novembers in Michigan are usually characterized by cold rain, snow, wind… basically cold everything. However, we’ve had a wonderful November with beautiful fall colors, crisp winds, and so much sunshine. Traverse City (TC) this time of year is absolutely beautiful with deep reds, lush greens, and burning oranges. It’s the perfect weather for warm cider, hot coffee, and fall jackets.

img_8513

I’m in TC for the weekend. At the recommendation of a few friends, I decided to head downtown to Brew Coffeehouse and Cafe, better known as Brew. I was not disappointed! For a Saturday afternoon, this place was buzzing with conversation, locals stopping by for coffee, and visitors having their first Brew experience; I was included in the latter. Unlike the coffeeshops and cafes in previous reviews, Brew offers a warm feel that is uniquely paired with a high energy staff. This place is enlivening. As far as I can tell, people come for the drinks, the people, and the atmosphere.

Brew is a cafe for everyone – the hipsters, the plain coffee drinkers, the craft beer experts, and the earth-conscious. This opera house turned coffeehouse is a great place to stop in for good food, local art, and great conversation with friendly baristas. Visit Brew Coffeehouse and Cafe when you visit Traverse City in the awe-inspiring Northern Michigan.

img_8518

Follow Brew on Instagram: @brew_tc

Follow me on Instagram: @vince_thurman1

When Tuesday Feels Like Monday?

Ever felt like the week was dragging on? Find yourself feeling that first wave of burnout starting to hit? Don’t worry! You aren’t alone in that feeling. If you are in the US, you are probably falling victim to the “busy” culture. Busy culture is when we constantly tell ourselves and others that we are busy, that we have a lot going on, or that we do not have time for anything.

Here are five tips to get over the hump and practice resilience in the face of burnout.

Number 1: Take time to do something you actually enjoy doing. “Whoa Vince! You are saying that I have to stop being busy for a few seconds to do something I enjoy? I don’t have time for that.” Take 10 minutes out of your day to do something you enjoy. Scroll through Instagram. Go for a walk. Read that article you have been meaning to read. Get on a call with a loved one. Start with ten minutes and work your way up to a half hour.

Number 2: Stop saying that you are busy. The more you say it, the more your body feels it. You will get to the end of some days and feel infinitely more exhausted than others because of four words. “I am so busy.” Even writing that sentence felt draining. Find other ways to tell people that the last few weeks have been stressful. Also, talk about what successes you’ve had during this stressful time. Interject some positive outcomes into your conversations to let people know that your hard work is paying off.

Number 3: Stop Procrastinating during busy times. If you have deadlines to meet, projects to complete, and a variety of other tasks to finish, work on them. Set aside specific times to actually complete tasks. It will reduce stress and boost morale. Checking items off the To-Do List is one of the most satisfying feeling in the world – BTW.

Number 4: Set your intentions. I was gifted a notepad that is called the Daily Intention Tracker. My day is more productive if I fill out the notepad when I first arrive at the office. Writing intentions allows me to clearly articulate what I want to achieve each day. Putting my intentions on paper really helps me focus my energy on what I need to do. This practices keeps me from living passively and letting the day pass me by.

Number 5: Eat, Sleep, Shower, Repeat (Exercise too. – if that’s your thing). These activities are necessities and need to be prioritized into your daily schedule if you are feeling stressed. Eat an uninterrupted meal, which means no work, no texting, and no rushing. SLOW DOWN and taste your food. Sleep as much as you can. Shower – you’ll feel better and everyone will like you more. Do it all over again. Exercise can also help you destress and refocus on your priorities.

When I get to a point of being “busy” whether real or perceived, I get stressed. My eating habits go to shit. The quality of my work dips. Finding balance and taking care of yourself is one of the best ways to pump some energy back into your bones. Practice these tips and you’ll be well on your way to being back at your best. Happy Tuesday!