Most Memorable Travel Moment
I was plopped right on the filthy floor of the airport. My cheeks were stained with tears, my hair was matted into a messy pony tail and I distinctly remember sulking – as spoiled-only-children do best.
We had three hours to kill, but I couldn’t muster the energy to keep up a friendly banter with the dozen travel buddies I now considered family. I was desperate not to speak of the inevitable: our semester abroad in Granada, Spain was actually over.
Since then, I’ve crossed off my fair share of bucket list adventures. Most of which are more “memorable” than a snapshot of me waiting in an airport. Yet this moment stands out so distinctly in my mind as the day I realized my profound and undeniable travel-lust.
Truthfully, I didn’t even want to study abroad. I was perfectly content living in my college bubble and had no desire for deviating from my norm of plain pizza and keg beer parties. Don’t get me wrong, I was always an adventurous little monster who loved to explore the outdoors, but I hadn’t really ever thought of traveling abroad as attainable. I did grow up in Halifax, MA after all – going north 40 minutes into Boston was our annual big to-do. Alas, before I could even protest I was zipping up my two 40 lb lady bug printed suitcases and clutching my unstamped passport for dear life.
The next 5 months were a whirl wind of breathtaking adventure and mesmerizing sites. From savoring crepes (yes plural) under the Eiffel Tower to exploring the winding streets of Marrakesh, I didn’t hold back one bit. I adapted with ease to the ‘no pasa nada’ lifestyle of Southern Spain – and relished in the endless tapas, siestas and heart pounding nite life. Even as I type these words, nearly 5 years later, I can still vividly remember the breathtaking sites, rhythmic sounds and welcoming smells of Granada. Throughout my travels I kept feeling like I couldn’t open my eyes wide enough. Of course my camera was snapping photos like crazy – but I yearned to take mental images, so worried that I’d lose the magic feeling that awashed me as I strolled through Dublin or reached the final steps of the Duomo. I was so afraid to forget the splendor of Europe, and even more terrified that each glorious day that passed brought me closer and closer to the end. But with each passing day, my heart grew, my mind expanded and my dreams? they erupted.
I was living in a perfect dream world, and so very afraid to wake up. Yet here I was, mere hours away from waking up to the blind doldrum of my former life. One flight got called over the loud speaker and as I grudgingly rose to hug goodbye to the few friends heading to the West coast, I had a startling and overwhelmingly blissful moment: the announcement had been in Spanish.
And in that moment, I had the most glorious realization: no matter how similar the life I return to is, I’M different. No matter how far removed I feel from my life in Spain, the experience has profoundly altered my perception. Not only can I recount the splendor of the Louvre or chat about the fashion boutiques in Milan, but I can converse freely in Spanish – a language I only hoped to read proficiently in after 4 years of college study. I have new likeminded friends spanning the United States and a few sprinkled throughout Europe. I conquered fears, learned to experience and enjoy food, and most importantly I developed a zeal for life.
Cheesy as it sounds, I am so passionate about every single day of my life – and I attribute it whole heartedly to my travels abroad. On the plane ride home I wrote my last journal entry not with a conclusion on my travels, but with a list of new adventures to add to my bucket list. I have become infatuated with traveling and exploring, maybe borderline obsessed.
Since the day I whipped the dust off my butt and the tears from my eyes to embrace my departing friends, I have always looked forward to the departures terminal in airports. I turn my cell phone off, and use the time to reflect on where I have been, where I am going, and who I am. There’s something refreshing about parting ways with one destination and heading on to the next. With each goodbye hug I take something beautiful from my past and bring it into the excitement of the future. And for this, and the overwhelming desire to see every inch of this mysterious world we inhabit, I feel blessed.
Besos y amor,