Why You Should Travel the World

I have travel fever. This is pretty unfortunate for a girl who’s in college and basically living off of instant macaroni and cheese. But, that aside, I’ve still been able to visit a few places – Ireland and Peru – but I definitely haven’t seen it all. I’m extremely lucky to have experienced these different countries, but I’m still jealous of those who are more well-traveled than I. I’ve had a taste of exploration, and I. want. more.

My first time abroad was with one of my high school friends who had relatives living in the more rural parts of Ireland. She invited me to travel with her and stay with them for a little over a week, and I eagerly jumped at the opportunity. Upon arrival, my initial observations were that there was a lot of lush vegetation and that I’d be experiencing a whole new dialect. There were fields of all different shades of green, and people with accents ranging from light and delicate to incomprehensible. (One of those who I failed to understand was her grandmother, whom I just nodded very politely at for nearly everything she said). Up the road from her grandmother were her cousins and uncle, who lived on a farm and had their own cows that you could see from nearly every window in the house.

This photo shows off the lush greenery of Ireland, something that goes as far as the eye can see!

Almost every day was cold and rainy, but each day also promised new adventures. I was able to walk the fields of Ireland, something most tourists do not get to do. The second time I visited, a year later, I went with two other friends, and I was able to do more of the “typical” tourist stuff and see Dublin. My journeys to Ireland brought me a healthy mixture of experiences, both getting to explore the rural side of Ireland as well as places like Grafton Street, and a chance to become part of a family that I’m still in touch with today.

My second experience out of the country was more of a drastic cultural change: Peru. I was visiting a place that spoke a language I didn’t know (I had only taken French in high school), food I was very unfamiliar with (think alpaca and guinea pigs — to be honest, I was too afraid to try some of it), and several areas with less oxygen available than I was used to. I traveled with about 15 people from my high school that took AP World History, a majority of them being people I had never said more than a few sentences to prior to the trip. My history teacher, someone I’m still pretty close with, and the business teacher who was a blast were our chaperones. We also had a tour guide in each place to make sure we didn’t get lost (this wasn’t always ensured). We visited Lima, Cuzco, Puno, and Machu Picchu. I saw the catacombs, famous landmarks left by the Aztecs and Incas, a park designated for stray cats, beautiful scenery, and hiked both Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu.

This photo was taken on Lake Titicaca in Puno. This is a traditional reed boat that was spruced up for tourism.

I did things I never expected I would be able to do: I conquered my anxiety and hiked Huayna Picchu. I hiked MACHU PICCHU, a wonder of the ancient world, with such high altitudes that it was nearly impossible to breathe. I made friends with people I never would’ve imagined I’d become close to. I experienced Lake Titicaca and other sites of huge cultural significance, things that I’m still surprised I saw with my own eyes.

This photo was taken at the top of Huayna Picchu. You can see Machu Picchu far down below. (Ignore how I look, I just hiked a mountain for 3 hours.)

Though my experiences are limited to only two countries, I promise you they both changed my life. With each step I take outside of my home country, I become a new person – a better person. I grow as an individual every time I get to experience something new, something outside of my comfort zone.

 

Take the opportunity when it arises to travel. You’ll make new friends, experience places you’ve only ever dreamt of, mature and gain knowledge, and create memories that you’ll want to reminisce on with every waking second. As Neale Donald Walsch put it: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

 

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