When did the spring turn to summer? Well it did and in the mean time I have successfully finished another year of teaching and taken two major trips outside the USA. 🙂
For the past three years I have packed my suite case, grabbed my passport, and headed to the countries that have filled my mind with wonder for the past five decades. (Thanks, Uncle Larry!) Italy was first, followed the beaches and Mayan ruins in Mexico, last summer was Greece and several surrounding islands, and finally this year I was able to experience the Montego Bay area in Jamaica and Paris, France.
I would have to say that there have been two main driving forces in my desire to travel. First, despite my mild mannered teacher persona, I have always had a sense of adventure. Not crazy dare devil adventure where I knowingly risk life and limb, but a desire to see and experience new places and things. Secondly, I have a great desire to learn everything I can about our collective human experience. That includes history, culture, art and architecture, and just about everything that makes us, well… us. Oh, as well as seeing all the natural beauty this world has to offer.
Traveling has changed how I see myself and the world. Traveling has helped me to see what I have in common with others and challenged me to see things from different points of view. Traveling has helped me to grow as a person. So, without any further adieu, here of some of my thoughts, observations, and lessons learned about myself on my travels.
Travel Renews My Sense of Wonder
When I was a little girl, I remember riding in the car with my parents. I would look out the window with a sense of wonder and curiosity. I did not have any judgments about what I was observing, I was amazed at everything I saw from the skyscrapers in Denver to the cows in the fields east of Greeley. Something as simple as stopping for ice cream in a new place felt like an adventure. Over time, I became immune to the sights and sounds of daily living. I took everything around me for granted and ordinary. Traveling has reconnected me to the awe struck little girl inside me. Nowadays, not only am I awe struck when I travel, I make a real effort to find the amazing things around me everyday in Greeley, Colorado and not to take my own environment for granted
Travel Strengthens My Sense of Connection to Other People
I have made the most amazing short term bonds in my travel groups. For approximately one week I spend my time with others who begin as complete strangers and end up being the people I share countless adventures with as we marvel at the historical, architectural, and natural wonders of another country together before we part ways. My groups have be made up of people from all over the US, Canada, Australia, South Africa, and the UK. I have thoroughly enjoyed my conversations with such diverse people. Each tour guide I have had holds a special place in my heart. I may be one of thousands of tourists that they meet in a single year, but they have given me a lifetime of memories. As the years go on, it will not matter if I remember anyone’s name from a particular group or if they will remember mine. As Johnathan, my tour guide in France said at the end of our trip, “We will always have Paris!” In the future, when I recall a specific trip, I will also be recalling the essence of the people who surrounded me and shared with me that moment in time.
Then, there is the connection to the people of the country I am visiting. It is difficult to express the emotion properly with words but I feel a connection to other cultures and places that I did not feel in the past. Each small conversation I have had in a shop, in a restaurant, on the street, makes me so appreciative of both the similarities and differences each country and culture has to offer and connects me to the people. One day when I was in Paris, a French lady came up to me while I was people watching and drinking coffee and asked to join me. I think she wanted to practice her English. I had the most delightful conversation with her and it is one of my favorite memories of the trip.
Travel Reminds Me I Always Have More To Learn
I tend to get stuck in knowing what I know. Not on purpose, mind you. It is easy to do as we get older. Even those of us who love learning can find we gravitate to the same types of books, art, history, music etc. without even realizing it. I do try to brush up on basic facts before I embark on a new adventure. Even so, every time I visit someplace new I find myself saying ” I didn’t know that .” or ” Man, I really need to read more about that. I had no idea. ” I may or may not get around to researching every question that comes up when I travel but I am grateful for all the new avenues of exploration available to me and the new information learned.
Travel Encourages Me To Step Outside My Comfort Zone
New people, new languages, new cities. It really is a lot for an introvert to take in. Not to mention the jet lag, change of routine, airport layovers, and vulnerability that comes with being a tourist and a single woman. However, nothing ventured nothing gained. In order to really experience life I need to be willing to be a little uncomfortable. So far the risks and discomfort have been minimal compared to the rewards of stepping out and seeing the world first hand. As for the risk factor, I will state that as a single woman I have to be aware everywhere, at home or abroad. Unfortunately, staying in Greeley, Colorado does not make me immune to being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Traveling with a group does make someone else accountable for my whereabouts and immediately know if I do not show up someplace as scheduled. This is a nice layer of security when traveling alone. I also pick countries the Dept. of State lists as relatively low travel risk.
Travel Has Encouraged Me To Appreciate My Own Home Town
There is no place like home. Sometimes, if you are like me, it is easy to forget that. For much of my life I saw Greeley simply as my hometown. It was where I was from, where my family was, and that was why it was significant to me. Some people in my town made fun of Greeley, other people sought Greeley out as a place to call home. I wandered through the streets going about my business, dreaming of other places, not really thinking of the place I called home one way or the other. Travel changed that. I have come to realize that I love Greeley and am glad to call it home. I have come to look at the parks, neighborhoods, cultural events, public art work, coffee shops, and local history with fresh eyes. I have taken the awe and wonder I have for the world and applied it to where I live. I find myself smiling as I walk through a local park or a downtown shop. I enjoy coffee and people watching at my favorite shop just as if it was a European cafe. I wave at my neighbors and think how glad I am to live in a charming area. I look to the west and see the outline of the Colorado Rocky Mountains and am in awe that this is the place I call home.
What about you? Do you travel or would you like to travel in the future? Has travel changed how you look at the world or yourself?
As always, I would love to hear from you!
Until next time,