I was constantly berated with stories of my peers, specifically the wealthier ones I knew through Greek life, going on Christmas vacations to Paris, spending summers in Patagonia, and spending a year of their life exploring Thailand. I was simply not that person. My family was (is) poor and growing up international travel was absolutely not even something I thought about. Truth be told, I didn’t know what I was even missing. As junior year of college approached quickly and violently, I considered cost first and foremost when choosing if and where I would study abroad. Since my alma mater has one of the best programs for study abroad (the same cost as a semester of school!) I thought maybe this would be my chance, this would finally be the time I would join everyone else and do what was normal for people my age. Nope, after getting rejected from my number one choice of South Africa (very affordable program and it was alluringly beautiful) I gave up all at once the idea that I would study abroad at all. I was among 5% of my junior class peers that did not study abroad, and so it was a lonely campus and four solid months of social media fomo.
So after spending my entire senior year lingering on the opportunity I had missed, I began looking up tours. I was offered a job 6 months before my graduation date, so I was set! They were flexible in allowing me to take a month off between graduation and my start date, and I knew that this is how I would take advantage of it. I researched many travel tour companies and came up with my final choice- EF College Break. I will do a review of their service and my trip with them in an upcoming post. Please subscribe to read.
My trip with EF was scheduled for 16 days, 7 countries, and called the “European Road Trip”. Our journey began in Netherlands, then went to Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France, and UK. This was my first real taste of international travel as the only time I had previously been out of the country was a weekend in Mexico during high school to my friend’s beach house in Rosarita. Of course, I was living in San Diego at the time so a one hour road trip to Mexico didn’t really count as ‘travel’.
As it was my first experience with travel I learned a lot, but mostly I learned how much I regretted not studying abroad when I could have. I was hooked, infected by the travel bug and I knew this was only the beginning. I learned how to maneuver public transit written in indecipherable languages and how to embrace every moment of the journey with my eyes and not my camera lens.
I guess the biggest takeaway I want this to leave you with is, travelling is so much more than a plane ride, a backpack, new foods, and new sites. It is diversity embraced, perspectives and opinions altered, and child-like wonder renewed. Remember that pure happiness and excitement you felt as a child seeing a bouncy house castle? I had always thought that feeling was fleeting, meant only for a child’s mind unaffected. Turns out that feeling of wonder and happiness is still out there, waiting for you in another country.