There are always things to be learned from travel. It is eye-opening to see other countries, learn about their history, people, and food, and look at how they are similar or different from our own. Experiencing other cultures is always an adventure. There are usually things that I think, “why don’t we have this?” and other times I find things that I just couldn’t live with. Everyone is different and so much is based on our personal lives and experiences, how we grew up, what we are familiar with, and what we might find too unfamiliar or uncomfortable. On that note, I wanted to share my personal list of things I loved in Europe, as well as things I didn’t love so much.
- Pineapple Juice: I first tried it at breakfast in Florence, and got hooked.
- Italian Blowouts: Many of the younger men rocked this hairstyle, and it was super stylish!
- Public Transportation: The train and metro systems were really efficient, hitting all the hot spots. It was much less expensive than the tourist buses, but I liked it best when it was a little less crowded and humid.
- Street Life: Maybe on a less chaotic level, because I am not used to having so many people in one small area. However, I loved the markets and street performers, and being able to people-watch for hours.
- The Little Things: Sometimes, it’s the small things that make the biggest impact. Seeing the laundry hanging out to dry, the roof gardens, indoor/outdoor courtyards and terraces just hit my happy spot. It was such a simple thing to appreciate.
- Vespas, Mopeds, Bicycles & Motorcycles: Although people drive much more aggresive than I would, I loved seeing the young and old zip through the streets.
- Appreciation and Respect for Art & Antiquity: Being in Europe, I began to wrap my head around just how much history there was, and how serious they take the responsibility of caring for it all. It makes me wish that my own country had more historic buildings and museums or monuments to visit within one city, rather than spread throughout a state or country.
- Public Restrooms: When you gotta go, you gotta go, and in Europe, it is not always easy to find a restroom. When you do, it can be frustrating to have to pay to take care of a basic need, only to find yourself hovering over a dirty toilet.
- Street Litter & Animals: I love animals, but when there isn’t a place for them to go to the bathroom (like grass), they use the streets, and they aren’t always cleaned up after. This left certain areas smelling pretty gross, not to mention the trash laying around as well.
- Pickpockets & Beggars: When you are trying to take in the beauty around you, it can be distracting to also be aware of your surroundings by being on guard for pickpockets or thieves. We were fortunate to not have any problems like others have, but we were also very much on the lookout to protect ourselves. It was also bothersome to have beggars and illegal street sellers consistently approaching you as you walk by or hanging near some of the most famous places in the world.
- Food: Some people, like my husband, might shun me for saying this, but I just got bored eating pasta, pizza, and sandwiches every day, every meal. Truly, I love pizzas and breads and pastas, but traveling anywhere can be hard when you always have to eat out. Also, food is such a big part of any culture, I feel like no matter where you are from or where you are traveling, at some point, you will miss having the food you are used to eating. Especially those home cooked meals.
I think it’s important for everyone to travel to a different country, wherever that may be, at some point in their life. It is such an experience to branch out from what you know and what you are used to. Traveling offers knowledge of other cultures besides your own, it offers places and scenery to excite, and it almost always pushes you to live outside of your comfort zone while expanding your knowledge of the world. I am so blessed for the adventures I have had in my life, especially while being so young. It has taught me so much and given me some of the best expeiences and memories that I will cherish forever!
Thanks dad and mom for providing this opportunity to travel to Europe after graduating. It was so amazing to see the things I have learned about for years and to share the experience with mom. We had times that were awesome and times that were difficult, but through everything, we knew how lucky we were to experience it all.