We have all seen a million blog posts and Buzz Feed articles about travel: why you should do it, why you should travel while you are young, how study abroad and volunteering change you and the world…you get the picture. Well, my opinion on travel is that you should try it, just once. Go and meet real people, eat real food, and explore what it means to live somewhere else. It enriches your way of thinking, and expands your mind and heart to be more compassionate towards others. Even if you don’t get to those benefits, at least you get to see another beautiful part of the world that you probably didn’t know existed.
What I learned is that traveling really is about the trip, and not the destination. The experience isn’t always as glamorous as it seemed when you booked the ticket, but there are small experiences that you grow to appreciate in the end. Here are a few moments that made me love living in the moment, however simple they are.
To turn in the weather channel and see an entirely unfamiliar map (and remember that the world is not ACTUALLY centered around my home country)
To use the hand dryer in a McDonald’s bathroom to dry my hair, and consider it a luxury.
Because walking to school every day across a bridge designed by the man who designed the Eiffel Tower makes you love life a little bit more.
To realize that peanut butter is a delicacy that should be cherished.
Because the Great Wall of China is under rated.
To realize how necessary language is in human communication.
To spend an hour trying to figure out the word for “redness” when buying face wash in a different language.
The nervousness feeling when doing normal, everyday activities like ordering at a restaurant or sending a postcard, and the huge sense of accomplishment afterwards.
To realize that I don’t miss my iPhone one bit.
To have tourists in a doubledecker bus cheer for me on my morning jog,
To realize how little I understand about the economy and politics. Oops.
To dance as part of a FLASHMOB in a Spanish plaza.
To have conversations with Romanians who live on the street, and feel challenged about my own way of life.
To live somewhere that has dulce de leche, and dulce de leche flavored ice cream, at my own disposal.
To drink the water when you really shouldn’t have drank. DO NOT try this at home…or, well, when traveling.
To attempt to surf for the first time wearing a wetsuit that is too big in the pouring down rain at a gorgeous Portuguese beach. Worth every drop.
To have coffee every Monday with three little old ladies that tell you what life is really about, and how to get out there and live it.
To hike down a cliff wearing a skirt and carrying a purse because, well, adventure is spontaneous and so am I.
To be able to have conversations about politics, economics, and religion in my second language.
Because I have never seen so many fluffy baby chickens in one place.
For that moment when I had my first original thought about a literary concept in Spanish.
Because sometimes having Easter Sunday in the park and running home barefoot is just what you need.
And a tropical downpour and a power outage is actually a great way to spend a night.
Because poverty is real, and so are the people experiencing it, and I am only beginning to realize what that really means.
For the challenge, once I am home, about how I am going to remember what I learned, and the new way I am going to live my life.
To want to change the world I am seeing.
To prove to myself that music is a universal language, and that sometime musicians in rural Nicaragua are waaaaay more talented than you.
To be asked to sing Katy Perry and the Titanic song wherever I go.
To meet people, see places, and experience moments that forever change me and my thoughts about the world.
All things considered, most of these moments are silly, but unforgettable to me. From a girl who used to be homesick spending the night at my friends house (who happened to live two doors down) as a child, I have grown to learn that there is so much more out there when you try new things, as crazy as they may be. I am thankful for what I have been blessed to be a part of, and the person I am becoming.