Europe, Me, and The Icelandic Sea

Growing up, I lived in a suburban town filled with the demographic being mostly Caucasian. So you could say there weren’t many opportunities for me to not only learn about culture but to experience it. But even with a lack of diversity around me I always had a desire to travel to foreign places and meet people completely different than who I knew. I knew I wanted to experience  in real life more than what I saw on the pages in my history books and on my social media feed. So when I gratefully got the chance to do just that I jumped at the opportunity to do so! 

I knew it was a privilege that I got this chance to travel to a completely new continent so I made sure to save for it and make it an experience that I would never forget. I had this burning feeling inside me that this experience was going to change my life, but even with all the preparation I made for the next seven months, I could never have imagined the true magnitude in which it would impact me with every new experience I had! As well as how much it would teach me about not just different cultures but myself and how incredibly similar we all are.

Now let me be clear, at first I was absolutely terrified to live in a different country by myself. I had never traveled outside of the northeast of the U.S. in my entire life and now I was going to be an ocean and a six-hour time difference away from my family and friends in a place where I knew absolutely no one. To say I wasn’t a little bit nervous, even with being a very confident and independent woman, would be a bald-faced lie. But I wasn’t going to let the fear of the unknown stop me from embracing Europe head-on. 

I was excited for the challenge of it all and to start creating memories that would make London my home away from home! But a funny thing happened when I landed, which was that this place I was worried I wouldn’t fit in with at first actually reminded me a lot of home. Not only that but the people there were just as open to meeting new people as I was! And thus my love story with Europe and the people within it began.

The friends I made helped me discover this whole new side of myself that I never knew I had as we traveled together. The side of myself that would problem solve quickly when we got stranded in the middle of a bus trip to Ireland (yes, that really did happen). The side of myself who began to become more eager to find the similarities I have with others rather than being afraid we’d have nothing in common. And the side of myself that would not be afraid to push me out of my comfort zone more often. Because truly if I didn’t push myself out of what felt comfortable in the first place, I would not be the woman that I am today after being and seeing so much.

A thousand times thank you London, the rest of Europe and Iceland for helping me become this new version of myself. I miss you every day and there is not a moment where I don’t think about hopping on a plane spontaneously and coming back to you. So to all hoping to travel in the future let me share with you what I’ve learned. You are only going to be afraid of people who are different from you if you let it be so. After traveling to seventeen countries as I have you’ll realize the only thing that is severely different about us is truly just our geographical location on a map. Differences in ethnicity, religion, and culture are something not to hate or judge because truly underneath it all we are human are all looking for connections and understanding. As long as you treat others with respect and compassion I am sure you will do just fine. So what’s the holdup?! The world is ready and waiting for you.