If you ask anyone in my family where I’ll be next year, they will be just as clueless as I currently am. However, with 100% certainty they will tell you I will not be in Iowa. I love to travel and explore, whether domestically or internationally. And I have been blessed with the money management skills to be able to adventure every once and a while.
My experiences domestically have shown me just how different people, attitudes, environments, and behaviors are just in this one country. Last year I visited the U of A in Arizona and got to experience the beauty of the great (Southwest) outdoors. Here in Des Moines, you have to make a serious effort to spend time outdoors, and hiking isn’t really a viable option. It’s not just geographical placement, however. Chicago, in Iowa’s neighboring state, is starkly different than my home town. They have been able to keep some of the classic midwest “niceness,” but in a more business oriented, city slicker type of way.
Internationally, I don’t have as much experience as I wish I did. The experiences I have had, though, have shown me just how much the world has to offer. There is so much to learn, so many stories to hear (& to create), and so much life to be lived outside of the U.S. Beyond that, I have also learned that just because I was born in the U.S. doesn’t mean this is the country I will be happiest in. Denmark is named the happiest country in the world – maybe I should explore that a bit. The week I spent in Buenos Aires, Argentina, was one of the most blissful of my life – I wouldn’t mind at all going back there (and am actively seeking job opportunities for caucasian Americans with some Spanish proficiency and great English skills).
Overall, I know that travel opens doors and minds. Many people get stressed out during travel. But I am the most happy when I am on the road, or in the air, or stepping over cobblestones searching out the perfect cafe. This is how I know I won’t be settling down anytime soon.
My trip to Spain this Spring is looming and I’m anxiously excited. My plan was to fly into Paris, swing my Germany, and then head down to Salamanca for my three week Spanish course. With the recent events in Paris, however, I’m not sure I want that to stay the plan. I usually shrug off my mother’s travel advice, because she is a natural worrier and I naturally think of adventure as my first priority and personal safety as my last. However, what happened in Paris on Friday was not a silly riot that I could avoid by staying out of the bad side of town, or a one time unfortunate event. It was an attack on Paris, and an attack on each and every Parisian’s feeling of personal security. While I hope to visit the city of love someday, I’m not sure the environment I would be entering would be one of love, but rather one of paranoia, fear, and nerves. So I’m going to take my mother’s advice (we are all surprised but please try to stay calm) and attempt to switch my flight. Paris will be there in a few years, and hopefully that means we will be a few years closer to the extinction of terrorism.
Paris aside, I cannot wait to add a few stamps to my passport. Europe has so much history and art and beauty to offer, and I am fully ready to soak it all in. Where will you travel next?