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September 18, 2013

When I visited my very first foreign country, just 8 years ago, I had no idea then that I would fall in love with traveling someday! In fact, it wasn’t until 2 years later that I stepped foot on foreign soil again. The moment I stepped out of London’s Heathrow airport I was smitten. I absolutely loved the UK.  A friend and I spent 2 glorious weeks traveling around Scotland, England and Wales, celebrating the completion of my masters degree and I loved every minute of it. Even then, however, I still didn’t fall in love with traveling. It would be another two years before I left the US again in 2009. This time, however, I decided that I would travel outside the US ever other year if I could afford it. What I didn’t know then was that I would spend every subsequent year  from that time on visiting other countries. And then just 4 years later I would up and move to a foreign country. My mom always said that someday I would live overseas, she just knew it. But every time she said that, I disagreed with her. I always said I loved the USA too much to move. Nowadays I have learned to say “never say never” whenever something new comes up. Almost everything I said I would never do, I have done. Go to college. Go skydiving. Live overseas. Try to learn a new language. Like eating avocados. (Seriously, Jen??) Like cooking. Live in a cold state/country. etc, etc. I think God has a sense of humor because pretty much anything in life that I have said I would never do, He has somehow had me do.

With the exception of getting tattoos or dyeing my hair. Those I draw the line at. Those are non-negotiables.

Anyways…

I have learned sooooo much from traveling, and it has changed me a lot.  Mostly in good ways, I think.  I think that traveling has made me more open to different ideas and different ways of doing things. It has expanded my taste buds quite a bit. I am not nearly as picky about foods as I used to be. It has made me more adaptable than I ever thought possible. It has helped me learn quite a bit about geography, other cultures, customs, and world history in general.  I have had so many amazing experiences over the last 8 years and I am so thankful for each one of them. Some experiences haven’t been so amazing, but I just think of them as learning opportunities and great stories to tell later.

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Clearly I need to get over to South America and the South Pacific and Asia a bit more as my list is quite Europe-heavy, but for now this is where we are at. I can’t wait to see what the next 30 years hold!

Lately I have been somewhat fascinated by all the travel debates  discussions I have been reading online. Clearly people are passionate about their preferred way to travel and aren’t afraid to share with the entire world their complete disgust with anyone who travels any other way than the way they do. The two broadest divisions are those who prefer to be “tourists” and do all the touristy things (Eiffel Tower, London Eye, Machu Picchu (unless, of course, you did the 5 day hike there, then I think it’s “ok” – but certainly not if you rode the bus in), and those who prefer to wander off the beaten path and explore places people have never even heard of, much less thought about visiting.  I honestly can’t believe there is such a big division here amongst the two groups, but there really is.

I am much more of a middle of the road type when it comes to traveling. I will take it in any form it comes in. I count each experience part of the fun, regardless of how it happens or where we end up. I am so not rigid when it comes to traveling. If we get to that fancy new museum, great, if we don’t, great. I don’t stress over seeing every last monument (to be honest, I am so over monuments), and I don’t stress if we accidentally get ourselves totally lost. It’s all part of the experience. I have done the whole “so not touristy” trips, and I have done the “Eiffel Tower, London Eye, Machu Picchu” type trips too.  And I love them both. I have heard people say that they will never go see the great pyramids in Cairo because it’s just so touristy and I want to say “WHAAAT?” Why on earth would you forgo seeing something as awe-inspiring as the pyramids just because it’s touristy? There’s something to be said for places that become “touristy.” There’s a reason they became touristy and it’s usually because there’s something pretty awesome there to be seen.

So I say, sure, go hike out in the middle of nowhere and discover hidden waterfalls and lakes and caves. That’s great! But don’t put down the people who like to go see the sparkly lights and fancy buildings because while you are off exploring places no one has ever written about, there are people out there who are enjoying walking down the same path their favorite author walked as he penned his best-selling classic novel, and that’s pretty awesome.

We all have different styles. Different preferences. Different things we enjoy. And that’s great. Diversity is what makes the world so interesting. But let’s not fight about it. Goodness.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 18, 2013 4:28 am

    How could you not LOVE avocadoes !!!!!!
    Yes i agree with you about travelling. I have learnt so much,not to mention the people i’ve met.
    You so need to come “down under” and have some more wonderful experiences.

    • September 18, 2013 10:41 am

      I know, Michelle, I don’t know how I ever thought I didn’t like them! (I thought they looked gross so I never tried them) I adore them now!
      I DO need to go “down under” =) Hopefully sooner rather than later and I will definitely let you know!

  2. September 18, 2013 6:25 am

    This is so cool Jen. I have 4 countries on my “bucket list”. India, Israel, China, and the Philippines. The only one that I think I will definitely get to is India, but I’d really love to get to the others too.

    • September 18, 2013 10:42 am

      I’ve only been to two of the four you mentioned, but they are both definitely worth seeing – Israel and India. Israel is one of those places that I wish everyone could have the chance to go to. It’s so amazing to be there! I hope you are able to go!

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