Adventure and Travel

FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE: THREE WAYS I’VE CHANGED SINCE MOVING ABROAD

  After moving to Stockholm this past spring, I’ve tried my hardest to dive right into the Swedish lifestyle. I haven’t exactly bought myself a Volvo yet (the beauty of living in a city with public transport!!) but I’ve definitely become more “Swedish” than I had realized. As a dual citizen (thankful an American met a Swede in the 90s, and I now have two passports) I’ve lived in the US for 15+ years and visited Sweden annually, so I’d always seen myself as something of a mix between the two. While in the States for a few weeks in July, it struck me that my thoughts, opinions and actions on certain things have done a complete 180- simply by osmosis is in my newfound home. Some of them I’d say are pretty positive, while others show me how great aspects of American life can be. Here are ...

FROM MAJORITY TO MINORITY

I remember being warned several times that culture shock was sure to occur when I set foot in India. I was a little nervous, a little skeptical, but very excited to say the least. I personally feel that I am open-minded and accepting of other cultures and beliefs even though they may be different than mine. It is our differences that make our world so interesting. If we were all the same, how boring would that be?  Back to culture shock. At our orientation in Des Moines, we even had a seminar about culture shock and what to do when it occurs because it can be quite debilitating to some.  Culture shock: a sense of confusion and uncertainty sometimes with feelings of anxiety that may affect people exposed to an alien culture or environment without adequate preparation.  However, I do not bel...

AN OATH TO HONESTY

I’m promising to myself and others to tell the truth about my experiences. I will keep my feelings and emotions while traveling raw and authentic. I’m taking an oath to honesty. This blog post isn’t soft, it’s not exciting and it’s not visually appealing.  All too often we see travel bloggers on Instagram or Twitter take the perfect mountain-bound sunset picture or the underwater scuba-diving sea turtle snap with the caption about the journey… or the destination (does it matter?). We see first class plane rides and lobster on a cruise ship and call it an adventure.  What about the mission trips and the saviors of the world? We see classrooms and long walks carrying water bottles and wearing broken down tennis shoes and think “hero.” I’m not down playing these things, both scenarios have tr...

LOVE WHERE YOU’RE FROM, BEFORE YOU LOVE OTHER PLACES

“Love where you’re from, before you love other places”   You know how we hear the saying, “Love yourself before you love someone else?” It’s true in relationships, but I believe it can be true when we travel. The curiosity in us always sparks our desire to get out of our comfort zone and to just drive, fly or walk to wherever we want to go that we think is different and exciting. But I declare to take a step back from dreaming big and to really explore the place we are in before we can grasp into the unknown. Take it from me, I was born in California from a small town and have lived here for nineteen years of my existence. I’ve never been to the beaches here, I’ve never been to Disneyland and I’ve never been to the museums in LA that people hype over the most as they share their memor...

A NEW DEFINITION OF A “HOME BODY”

For as long as I can remember, being considered a “home body” always had a negative connotation attached to it. It meant you didn’t want to seek adventure. It meant you were closed off and lacking ambition. It meant you didn’t have a desire to learn about and experience other cultures. It meant you would be stuck in one place forever. I had always walked around in fear of becoming what I had originally defined as a “home body.” Never in my life would I want to be considered boring, closed off, unmotivated, or stuck. Being stuck is what scared me the most. I had no desire to stay in one place for too long. I wanted to experience the world before settling down and picking a place to grow and stay a while. Ever since I was 16 and learning more that just “¿Comó te llamas?” and “ten...

BE A LOCAL EVERYWHERE

I recently spent two weeks house-sitting in New York City. Before I left, I gave myself an admittedly ambitious challenge: live, to the best of my ability, as though I were a local. I had been told that New Yorkers distrusted tourists, and I can’t exactly blame them. Hailing from the Niagara region of southern Ontario, I understand the frustration of your home being swarmed with tourists delighting in their oblivion and anonymity the minute the weather reaches an acceptable temperature. But we are all tourists outside of our homelands, and I was a tourist for those 14 days. I can’t deny that amidst the brownstones, ivy, thrift stores and leafy residential parks, most of the time I felt awed, inspired and, occasionally, even a little intimidated. In a massive cultural hub that has inspired ...

TRAVEL FAR ENOUGH, YOU MEET YOURSELF – THE IDENTITY JOURNALS

“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” – Marcus Garvey   There were so many things I loved about my trip to Peru and to South America in general. But I think what really stuck was the energy – a visible sense of collective pride and confidence in the people about who they are, as a group and as individuals. There is richness in their celebrations, and belief and intent in their storytelling. And if you took the time to stand still and observe, you felt community. I don’t identify as Peruvian or from any country in South America, but there was something about this sense of community that made me feel at home. More than I ever felt in Australia – the place I do call home. More than I felt in Asia – where...

NO MONEY TO TRAVEL? YOUR SUMMER CAN STILL BE AMAZING

  Sitting in the midst of my concrete oasis that is not even close to being Instagram-worthy, I scroll through the photographs of friends and family seeing the world. Pictures of crystal waters, tropical plants, crazy moments, and drool-inducing drinks make me sigh. If only I could plop my lounge chair in the white sands of a beach instead of on our falling-apart deck, the ambiance of neighbor children screaming and honking horns not quite the island sounds I hoped to hear. Instead of cool water excursions or neat sea creatures, I’m photographing my Starbucks cup, hoping for some pity likes and reassurance that summer is what you make it. The Unwanted Staycation This summer is the first summer in a while we’re not going on vacation. There will be no sand between my toes or morning sea...

THOUGHTFULLY ALONE

Spring semester, junior year; last spring, I studied abroad in Sevilla, Spain for the entire semester. Toward the end I was ready to go home. Ready to stop living out of a suitcase, or a backpack. Ready to have the same ground under my feet for a while. Being in a country where you can’t fully express your emotions and feelings becomes exhausting. You constantly feel a cultural discomfort. Never sure, never secure, never feeling right. Never feeling known, acknowledged, part of the community. Not knowing where you are. No relatives, no connections, no co-worker down the street. No memories attached to the streets, to the paths you take. To the way to the río. To restaurants, to parks, to curbs and crosswalks. No sense of belonging. No sense of permanent existence.  Not being able to ...

9 TRAVEL STORIES TO REMIND YOU OF THE GOOD IN THE WORLD

Is it just me or does it seem like every time you open social media lately you get hit by a wave of negative, scary news stories? Bombings, mass shooting, political unrest, kidnappings – there’s certainly a lot to be fearful of. I can understand when people don’t want to travel because it’s just plain scary when that’s the only kind of story you get. Today I want to flip the switch a little because if you stay fearful and don’t travel then you can miss out on meeting a lot of wonderful people. I have so many good stories that I actually had to cut a lot of them because the post was getting too long, but here are some of my favorites to remind you of the good in the world. The ladies who let me sleep in the nail salon in Dubai When I recently traveled to ...

PRONE TO ENGINE FAILURE

Hayley’s invitation arrived in the form of a Facebook message on a Monday afternoon. “Are you sure you don’t want to go to Nashville on Wednesday?” Hayley and Sammy, two of my closest friends, had been planning this road trip to see our friends studying in Nashville for nearly two months. I’d received these invitations weekly, but hadn’t taken them seriously. Of course I wanted to go, but carving out a week of time in the middle of the semester seemed impossible. But this time—the last time she’d be asking—I was feeling impulsive. Five hours after receiving her message, I was googling the weather in Nashville, mentally preparing what to pack. I’d said “f*ck it,” pushing aside my responsibilities; the mental reprieve was a bigger payoff than an A in the class I’d be blowing off. Hayle...

IT’S JUST A DREAM

On days like today I feel as if my feet are stuck in the mud and I can’t move. I have accomplished so much in the past few years with battling my depression and anxiety. I found a job that I like, a man that I love and in general, I’m feeling good. But I can’t move… Even though I love my job, I come to work every day, sit down at the same desk and stare at the same computer screen. I like knowing what to expect, but, on the other hand, I am bored out of my mind doing the same thing over and over again, every day. It’s a good job, great benefits and decent salary, but there is no surprise. This is my first real job outside of college, and I am so thankful it is with a great local company, but I’m not happy, even though I like what I’m doing. Make sense? Right now, I’m a corporate travel age...

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