I just returned this past week from a grand adventure across 8 countries over the course of 25 days... and I have no words. I've seriously been contemplating this post all week on where to even begin, but I can tell you that I'm already planning my next trips (and yes that is plural).
I'm someone who has always loved life. To try to explain this is difficult. But for me it's always been the small things like the wind in your hair, nights where you get unexpected rain on the way home, hearing someone whistling as they walk down the street, the waft of food coming from windows as you walk around the neighborhood, these are the things that get me.
Traveling changes everything. I think it begins with your senses being heightened, having nothing but time to let all of your surroundings soak in. There's no schedule to abide by, no to-do list on your mind, no job to get to, and no data to distract you. You have only your own will.
All I followed for almost a month were where my feet wandered, where my sense of smell led to wonderful food, where conversations took me, and where my eyes longed to see more of. Having the whole day to explore each city, just me, my music, and an adventure before me, the feeling is incredible. I'm one who has always loved waking up for a hike at 4am to catch the first light of sunrise and watching the sun set in the evening. But the feeling of not just watching the sun set on the horizon, but watching each city in Europe go to sleep while you're lost in conversation and thought til the early hours of the morning. These are the moments I've learned to live for as I've traveled. Traveling makes life as a whole a completely different experience.
London, Paris, Barcelona, Milan, the Cinque Terre, Pisa, Florence, Rome,
Budapest, Prague, Amsterdam, and Brussels, these were the cities I visited. (I thought I would supply a selfie from each place I visited)
Traveling makes the world you thought you knew seem so vast. And time so short. Knowing that there are so many places to experience and be a part of. The food, the places, the stories, the sounds, the people, it all remains so vivid. My first trip to Europe was 6 years ago and I can say the same for my time there in Paris. The three weeks I spent in France with family friends seems like just yesterday, I remember every detail. It's such a privilege to see each country, begin to understand cultural differences, and compare each place with the others.
Traveling is like a puzzle. You can plan and organize all you want, read all the Rick Steve's guidebooks in the world, and see so many photos of where you're going to go... but it's all a mystery until you actually get there. You never know what to expect. Your journey is full of the most brilliant surprises and moments that literally, and I mean literally, take your breath away (I cried several times too of surreal happiness). And the people. Traveling acquaints you with the most hospitable and inspiring individuals. A short sentence spoken to a stranger can turn into a 2-6 hour conversation and form the most incredible friendships. These moments were some of my best memories from my journey.
It's crazy that something I worked so hard for, budgeted, researched, and dreamed about for so long got here so quickly and went by so, so fast! This week I've been reflecting upon all the incredible moments I experienced and it's surreal that know that I DID THAT. I encourage anyone at some point in their life to do something surreal, something you've only contemplated/dreamed/talked/read/heard about! You will not regret it, I can promise you.
Studying abroad has played a pivotal role in shaping my outlook on life. I have so many ideas. So much I know God holds for me in the future. And it has barely just begun... :) Life is a grand adventure to all those who seek adventure in each day set before them.