Sunday, December 9, 2012

Advice & Lessons Learned

People often ask me what the best part of studying abroad has been, or my favorite memory so far. At the time I always draw a blank, but I have had plenty of time to reflect upon this question and have a few answers. Traveling the world opens your eyes to new places and experiences and people in a way I never fully understood until now. I have been so blessed and humbled by so many people along this journey and I am all the wiser for it.

To this day, one of my favorite memories comes from a little pub in Dublin, Ireland. I was with Hayley and Ashtyn enjoying the local scene and live Irish music when a kind older man came to talk to us. He wasn’t invasive and didn’t want anything but some conversation. He was a world traveler with a lifetime of wisdom and a soft heart. Our conversation lasted no more than 10 minutes, but he gave us some of the best advice about life, travelling and people that I have ever heard. Small encounters like these often mean the most when you travel. 

I have compiled a list of the best advice I received from a collection of random but unforgettable individuals.  
  1. Don't just take pictures of places. The people in the pictures matter more than the location.
  2. It's ok not to get along with the people you travel with all the time. You are constantly together and it happens. Get over it.
  3. When you go somewhere new, look AT things, not FOR things.
  4. Watch out for your friends, always.
  5. Go get lost, that’s when you really find something.
  6. You’ll never be done learning, so never stop exploring.
  7. 95% of people in this world are good.
I also figured some things out for myself. Here are a few of the personal insight I developed.
  1. Just go with it. YOLO and WTHN. 
  2. Don’t be afraid to go out on your own sometimes. You learn so much about yourself when you have no one to hide behind.
  3. Don’t take yourself too seriously. (Not the first time anyone has heard this piece of advice, but I really grew to appreciate it this semester.) 
  4. The people you make your memories with are more important than the places you go or things you see. 
  5. The world really is small. 
  6. Things don’t always go as planned. That’s good, it makes it more fun! 
  7. Continue to expect and find the best in people.

Maybe my favorite part of this experience has been how travelling and living abroad changes you. It doesn’t make you into a new person but it helps you become the truest version of yourself. This semester has helped me to just be me, not the person anyone else wants me to be. I believe everyone should have an experience like this to discover him or herself.

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