In 2015 I studied abroad in Europe and embarked on the greatest adventure of my life. I spoke to friends who had traveled and they all talked about how the trip changed their whole lives. Quite frankly, I didn’t believe them. I have always been passionate about learning different languages and cultures, but my ignorance didn’t show me the lasting impact that trip had on me as a person. I’m so thankful I had the guidance and support from my friends and family to travel now. These are the reasons why:
You are never going to have this time back
When I went to Europe, I was about to start my senior year at the University of Florida and was working part-time. I was able to work my schedule to be able to drop EVERYTHING for two months. If I had waited for the following summer, I would’ve had my full-time job and been unable to go. As you get older, it becomes difficult to leave your ever-growing responsibilities. When else are you going to be able to drop everything to travel?
Sure, you can go when you’re retired, but it’s not the same
People will tell you that you always have time for it later in life after kids, and you’re retired. This, although true, doesn’t mean it’s the same experience when you’re older. You’re probably not going to want to go on a pub crawl in Munich, drinking liters of beer, and then stumbling home to your sketchy hostel when you’re in your 60’s. Life is short!
Go while your metabolism can still handle it
One of my favorite parts of Europe, as you can imagine, was the food. On a daily basis I would have at least a bottle of wine (I was living in Italy, after all), two entire personal pizzas, any snacks they were offering in the market. This is not to mention my body weight in gelato. This becomes more difficult as you get older and your metabolism slows down. Even with the miles upon miles I was walking, I still came back to the US 20lbs heavier. #Noregrets
Europe will teach you to take the media with a grain of salt
It wasn’t until I was in Europe that I realized just how DRAMATIC the news is here in the US. In July of 2015, Greece was going through a rough financial crisis. The country had to decide whether they wanted to keep the Euro, or go back to their old currency. My parents in the US were scared because the news channels kept saying how there were riots in the streets, and the protests were getting violent.
I was worried because Daniel and I were supposed to land in Greece the day before the referendum, but because we missed our flight we ended up arriving in Athens airport just 2 hours after they made the decision. When we got to the streets, they were all closed because people were partying! They were happy elated to leave the Euro. There wasn’t a moment in Greece that I didn’t feel safe. The US media feeds on American’s fear, keep that in mind the next time you watch the news.
You won’t realize it while you’re there, but you’ll come back a different person
The pace of life in Italy changed my life perspective more than most other experiences I had in Europe. Going to dinner is a three-hour affair; they close down businesses mid-day for naps, and drink wine with almost every single meal. They live every moment mindfully, relaxed.
What are we in such a hurry for? Death? Life goes by quickly enough, yet we focus on the next big thing. We live so stressed that we don’t have time for hanging out with friends or eating a proper meal. I’m pretty sure I gave my Italian professor a heart attack because she could not fathom that there was an industry for “to-go” food. Italians don’t believe in eating while standing or doing other things. Because of Italy, I live my life more mindfully. Had I not experienced that, I would’ve lived my entire life rushed. What kind of life is that?
If you need ideas for where to travel to, I’ll just drop this right here.
Now go book your flight! 😉