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What is the Secret to Happiness? After a journey around the world one young woman knows the answer.

Imagine traveling over 275,000 miles to 187 countries in less than one year…with nothing but a back pack and the company of two strangers (male strangers!). That’s just what Kelly did, a 24-year-old college student from Brussels, when she signed on to Coca-Cola’s Expedition 206.
 
Expedition 206 sent three “happiness ambassadors” to all 206 countries where Coca-Cola is sold with the mission to find out what makes people happy. Kelly, Toño and Tony, traveled from Aruba to Argentina and everywhere in-between to share and seek out happiness and optimism around the globe.

Her Campus was lucky enough to steal a few minutes with Kelly, just a day after she jet setted from Israel to Atlanta completing the final leg of the trip. This girl was amazing – not only was she bursting with energy after a transcontinental flight, but she had some of the most insightful words to share about her journey and happiness in general.

 
HC: What was your most memorable travel stop on the journey?
 
Kelly: Greenland was completely unique. It was a place of pure, untouched nature. I literally sat for four hours on a cliff, all by myself, just watching the sunrise. It sounds so boring, but it made me so happy. The people in Greenland really appreciate the small and simple things in life, like the beauty of nature that surrounds them.
 
HC: What was the most difficult part of the trip?
 
Kelly: Traveling to all these countries is an amazing opportunity, but it was hard too. Going from place to place, sleeping in a new bed every night, and eating different foods all the time can wear you down. You can get mentally and physically exhausted. All three of us had moments when we had enough – but there was never a moment when we wanted to give up. Toño, Tony and I were all there for eachother, whether it was just having a friend to talk to or a warm hug to cheer up.
 
HC: Would you say you grew close to Toño and Tony and what was it like traveling with two guys?
 
Kelly: Toño and Tony became my brothers. They are more than life-long friends, they are family. We have been through so much together and know that we will always be there for eachother.  That being said, there were moments on the trip when some girl time would have been nice.
 
HC: Did being the only female on the trip make you notice anything about women and happiness?
 
Kelly: When I was in Djibouti I traveled through back roads and back alleys to get to this small house to get henna done. It was a lovely atmosphere of only women; the ladies relaxed, took their veils off, and then we just had some good old hairdresser gossip. One girl who was 16 talked about her fiancée, who’s too complicated and wanted to take away her freedom, so she told her father she didn’t want him. She cackled with laughter as she said, “I got rid of him!”. Gossip, beauty routines, and the company of other women seemed to make females everywhere happy.
 
HC: Did you learn anything from the expedition?
 
The biggest lesson we all learned was to appreciate the small things. We unlocked the so-called “secret” to happiness in some of the poorest countries. In the Caribbean we would ask the people what makes them happy, and they would look at us strangely with puzzled expressions. They said, “Happiness is in me. It’s my family, the food I have to eat, and the beauty of nature”

Happiness is not something that you need to seek out and find, but something that you are born with and need to discover within. So many people are concerned with surrounding themselves with things that they think will make them happy, but true happiness comes from within not the outside.
 

After a year of tears and smiles that crossed countless countries and touched many lives, Kelly is happy. She has one last destination on her travel agenda that makes her especially happy, her home in Brussels. For the rest of us who plan on hopping on a plane anytime soon, Kelly shared some advice: “Take everything you want to pack, lay it out, then cut it in half.” 

Kelly has shared some practical words (especially on packing), but also some very meaningful words about inner happiness. During the holidays, we all seem concerned with getting the latest gadget or flaunting the hottest fashion trend, thinking these things will make us happy. Will they? Maybe we should all heed Kelly’s advice and try to find happiness from within this New Year.
 
So, collegiettes™ let’s hear it – how are you going to find inner happiness in 2011?
 
If you have any more questions about Expedition 206 or for Kelly, visit Coca-Cola’s Happiness Project.

 

Alexa is a senior at Boston College majoring in Communications with an emphasis in journalism. She is spending her fourth and final year at BC enjoying tailgates, theme parties, and life long friendships. That is, of course, when she isn’t busy writing for or reading one of her favorite magazines. As a self-proclaimed magazine addict, Alexa has a subscription to over a dozen glossies and sometimes buys more on the news stands. Yikes! In the past, she has even interned for a few: Seventeen magazine, Boston magazine and now she joins Her Campus. In her free time Alexa enjoys reading chic lit., working out to bad reality TV reruns, and indulging her addiction to fro-yo. She is interested in pursuing a career at a women’s lifestyle magazine.
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