This past summer, I was fortunate enough to spend two months studying abroad in Italy and travelling throughout Europe – an experience which can only be described as a dream come true.
St. Augustine once spoke, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.”
Every person has a story. Every city, every religion, every tradition, every culture.
An empty lipstick-stained glass of wine left on a table on a street-side cafe table in Paris. The crumbling walls along an ally in Budapest. The fixated stare of a marble statue in Florence.
They all have stories.
Ever since I set foot beyond my home walls, I have wanted to keep moving and read as many of these stories as a I can. I want to breathe the airs of new cities, sleep under unfamiliar stars. To go looking for answers and come home with more questions. I want to push beyond the boundaries of my comfort and take in everything that is unfamiliar to me and learn to love each in its own respect – cities, traditions, people, religions, languages, cultures. I am a student but I have so much left to learn. You can learn just as much from the secrets that ancient streets have seen as you can from any book in a classroom.
You see, I want to see the world. After all, they say that travel is the only thing that you can buy that makes you richer. And I truly believe that is what life is about – branching out beyond what we are used to, meeting people from all walks of life, and expanding our perspectives by embracing the opportunity to learn from new people and new experiences.
There is far too much beauty in the world to ever be content seeing only a fraction of it.
Studying abroad changed my life.
I was forced far beyond the limits of my comfort on this trip, but I learned so much from the experience. It was raw. I was alone in a city where no one new my name. I didn’t know anyone on the program at first – I hardly knew the language. It was terrifying, and exhilarating. Because I quickly came to the realization that the experience would be what I made of it. If I let fear get the best of me, I would spend my life regretting missed opportunities. So I learned to stand on my own two feet, and I rolled with the punches, and I came home two months later with absolutely no regrets, but a burning desire to keep on exploring.
I met incredible people on my program, who became great friends while we were there. After all, we spent nearly 24/7 together. The first day that we met, we were already talking about making plans to travel outside of Italy to other countries together. Complete strangers brought together by the inherent desire to see the world.
I was able to travel to five different countries in the time span that I was in Europe. Though Rome was my home base, I saw Florence and Sorrento in Italy. Prague in the Czech Republic. Dubrovnik in Croatia. Lisbon and Lagos in Portugal. Seville and Barcelona in Spain. I met so many fascinating people and read so many incredible stories through these cities.
And I came home with enough stories of my own to last a lifetime.
Sitting on the steps of an ancient church in Dubrovnik after a massive power-outage, waiting to be seated for a dinner under the stars, listening to an old gentleman play Moon River on his guitar behind me. Cliff jumping into turquoise waters because my kayak tour guide convinced me to, despite my better judgement, and feeling the rush of pure exhilaration, the rush of being fully alive. Sitting in the same cafe before class every morning, where the owners knew as soon as I walked through the door that I would order a cappuccino and a cornetto. Visiting towers and castles that looked like something out of the pages of a fairy tale I read as a child. Sitting atop a hill with my favorite people in the world as the Portuguese sun set over the water.
Allow this to be an introduction to an exploration of the adventures that I had. I hope to impart what knowledge I gained from my travels to only enrich the adventures of others.
If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?