Week #6: Indie Travel Mainfesto

Week 6 prompt : This week for the Indie Travel Challenge 2012, we want to know what you think about the Indie Travel Manifesto.  Does it resonate with you? Do you think, based on the tenets of the Manifesto, that you are an indie traveler? Create your own manifesto for the way you travel, and share it with the community!

One of the reasons I wanted to take part in the Indie Travel Challenge is because I can associate myself with the ideals and values the website showcases. The articles tend to focus on things I can relate to and have interest in. They recently put out a manifesto that can be read here .

Although I travel a lot, I do not often analyze why I love it so much or how it has helped me grow. It was refreshing to read the manifesto and examine what I take away from my travel experiences. Traveling has opened my eyes to new cultures, languages, and ways of life. I have been able to see and do things I thought I would only be able to read about on the web. Each experience leaves me with something I can take away. Whether it is learning how to say hello and how are you in Russian or a new perspective on an old topic. Travel has made me more aware of the world around me. It has given a hunger for more. For every city I cross off my list, I think I add about 3 more! It is incredible to me to find that although some places seem worlds apart of where I grew up and what I know, I can find similarities and connect with the people there. I have found that similarities connect people but the differences are beautiful as well.

There is probably nothing more different from the French mentality and the American mentality. My French friends say the same thing. They have no idea why Americans are so happy, confident, and emotional; while we Americans are still scratching our heads over the horrible service, apathy, and complex nature of the French. However, it is my time in France that has taught my patience and acceptance of things beyond my control. I have learned to slow down and enjoy the smaller things in life. And I like to think that my constant smiles and humor has brought a bit of light into my office. I no longer romanticize my life in Paris, I understand it. Paris will always hold a special place in my heart but I am happy to see it for what it is and truly love it, not just the idea of it.

My goals as well as the things I find important in my life have been altered. I guess falling under the category of the manifesto: Defining your values, exploring your beliefs, and crafting your own meaning for life. This also leads into dynamic possibilities because now all I see is a world of opportunity rather than the box I thought I had to fit into in California.

This is what travel is about for me. Taking something and leaving something behind. Dispelling the stereotypes or perceived opinions and searching for the truth. I search for the experience, not something to cross of my to-do list. I want to share drinks with the locals and learn about their life… make a meaningful connection. I want to see the city for what it really is and not what the guide-book tells me.

This is just my beliefs. I am not cutting down different ways of travelling and I too pick up the occasional guide-book. The point is, travel is about experience and about personal growth. I constantly forget the names of cathedrals I have been or paintings I have seen, but I almost always can tell you about the conversations I had with the people I met or the exact taste of the food I tried. When talking about my trip to Belgium, I might not mention the Church of the Sacred Heart but I will tell you that my best friend and I got lost and spent over an hour taking pictures of the street art in a little neighborhood. When highlighting my trip to Austria, I probably won’t tell you much about what I saw in Vienna but can go on for hours about the typical Austrian lunch I shared with Aggie’s family. To me, these are the moments I value. I love seeing the wonderful tourist attraction the cities provide but I also love to feel the city and find out what makes it tick.

I am not sure how well I hit the prompt on the head and I think it might be another case of serious rambling. But thank you BootNAll, you inspired me.

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Week 3: Learning Through Travel

Here is Week 3 BootsnAll’s Indie Travel Challenge:

Have you ever studied or taken classes on a trip? What did you study, and perhaps more importantly, what did you learn while on that trip?  What would you like to learn on your travels this year?

I have been living abroad for a little over a year and a half now. I frequently like to reflect and look at all this year has given me. It actually is a bit overwhelming to think back to the day I stood in the security line, equipped with a backpack and suitcase in hand, staring back at the anxious and tear-filled faces of my parents. At that moment I had no idea what the next year for me would bring or if I was making the right choice. A part of me wanted to jump out of line and back into their arms of safety, cradled with in love and support. But also those arms represented everything I already knew and I was ready for something different. At that, I took a deep breath and continued in line to security.

Now, how does this relate to this week’s prompt? Well, because with that one step I started the learning process. I learned that I have more courage than I ever thought. But this wasn’t all I learned. My time in France has been some of the best education I have received. In a formal sense, I cannot speak too highly on the French classes I have participated in; however, learning a new language has been part of my education here. Outside the classroom is where I believe I have gained the most. Not only have I opened my eyes to the world around me: new cultures, new foods, new languages, new customs, the list goes on; but also I have learned about myself. There are things I have done that I never thought I could be capable of. I have simultaneously had the best and worst year of my life. Because of the hardships, I have been able to appreciate what I have more greatly.

My very first trip to Europe was with a group and was an organized tour. I only got 10 days and 3 different cities. When I look back on that trip, I remember the way I felt and all the things I saw. Yes, I did learn about new thing however I my level of learning was very shallow. I only got to skim the surface of what really made up all of these magnificent cities. I took away history and fun facts, but did I really know what made these cities tick? No. And that wasn’t any fault of mine. It merely was my limited time and my lack of exposure in travelling to these places. As I said, I was with a group. There were my friends, teachers, mentors. It was familiar. I blindly followed the tour guide, rarely having to think about where I was going or how I was getting there. I never had to communicate with someone who spoke a different language than me. My interactions with locals were extremely limited. To me, it is all these factors that add to the education you get while travelling.

When taken out of your comfort zone, you are required to adapt and to learn. You are forced to be flexible to surroundings and in that you are developing more knowledge of that around you. You are more aware because you have to be—it’s new, undiscovered territory. Because of that, the wine tastes better, the bread smells better, the people are prettier. But when you are really able to delve further you also are faced with fear and uncertainty. In order to accumulate you have to fight this and in this process you are learning not only about your surroundings but about your capabilities to adapt.

This year I would like to continue the journey I am on by taking advantage of everything I have in front of me. I want to kick it up a notch 🙂 I hope to not only improve my French, but also learn other languages (like improve my elementary Spanish!) New cultures and different countries will continue to provide me with fresh perspectives and increase my thirst for more. To be honest, I would also really like to learn what it is I actually want. I mean, I know the basics of what I want but I have yet to figure out what will make me truly happy. Well, I lied. What would make me happy would to be a travel writer and photography and continue to travel the world. I guess what I mean is I want to know where I should plop myself down next. I am searching for something, I just don’t know what. I would like to learn what that is.

“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard

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Check out the prompt here

Having Two Places You Call Home

I am currently sitting in the Philly airport (and will continue to be sitting here for the next few hours), listening to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and reflecting on my last 2 weeks. The lovely view of gray skies, … Continue reading

French Summer= Rain for Days.

I am having quite a hard time believe that this is July. The July I am used to is full of BBQs and bikinis, not rain and jackets. Apparently, because we had such a good spring… we are paying for it now. That doesn’t make sense in my head but hey Ill let the French justify their crappy season.

On a high note (well I dont know if this counts as a high note but ill take it), today I noticed myself wearing the same outfit as about 70 percent of the women on the metro today. Beige raincoat, scarf, dark skinny jeans, heels. Have I been here too long? Am I slowly disappearing into the 20-something crowd of commuters on the metro?

I mean, I guess it is about time. I am living here. I have been for quite some time. I know what metro to take when the usual one is too crowded and what lines to avoid. I know where the best falafel in town is and where the best spot is to sit on a sunny afternoon. I now have no fear to ask the sales guy in the tech store if these speakers work with my Mac… in French.

Now, these all may seem like little thing… and they are. But they are little triumphs and that is what matters. In France, I have learned you have to take what you get and enjoy ever second of it. This year has been a test–and one I have struggled to get good grades with I might add–but slowly I am starting to get a few questions right.  And it feels good.

I was talking to an old friend of mine the other day and we were talking about growing up. I have known him since 5th grade… so it was easy to be nostalgic. We were wondering when this whole grown up thing happened. Here I am. Hardly a grown up, yet technically living that life. I have a real 9 to 6 (ish) job. I pay my own bills. I do my own thing. But I still feel like I waiting for it to get real. But it is real now. Am I making sense at all?

Sorry for rambling on but it is still crazy to think where I am and what I am doing. Honestly, I would be happy where ever life took me next. After this, I feel ready for anything. Preferably on a year-long travel adventure… but hey whatever works 🙂

My Year in Review

Its official. One year ago today I was landing in Paris and running into the arms of the girl who helped me get here. I had no idea what was ahead of me and I definitely had no idea what … Continue reading

Silly Sorrows

“The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn and feel and change and grow and love and live.” ~Leo F. Buscaglia

 

Life in France is strange. But I havent completely decided if that is France’s fault or the whole living on my own as an adult part.

Lately a lot has been going on and there doesn’t seem to be a break really. Dont get me wrong… work is incredible and so is my petite Parisien flat but damn, when it rains it pours.

Anyone who knows me knows that I talk to my mama a lot…. A LOT. She is always trying to lure me home and failing but when it comes down to it, she really wont let me give up. Today was one of those days where there is too much going on in your life for your brain to process it all. And there she was pushing me to look on the bright side of things. Honestly–my personal cheerleader. My mom has this ability to bring me back down to reality. The thing about me is I am pretty laid back and low-key until things get out of control and then its like all hell breaks loose… for about 2 hours until I calm down and see the crazy person I am being. 🙂 But today my mom helped me realize all i have accomplished being here and that everyday I feel like this is another day that I am learning and growing.

I have always had an easy life. To be blatantly honest. Yes, things have gone wrong and I have dealt with major things. However, I have always managed to get basically everything I want. Not easily, but still. I have always had an incredible network of people around me. My family was never far away. But now I am in a crazy new place and i have to get used to things being different.

When I have a bad day, I can’t drive 50 minutes to have my mom cook me dinner. Or when I am broke I can’t have my dad come down to go grocery shopping and put gas in my car. I don’t live in a sorority house with 34 of my close friends and room with my best friend. I don’t have a social calendar anymore. I don’t have a boyfriend to escape to when I can’t party anymore or the girls are driving me mad. I don’t live in a country where they speak the same language as me and where nothing is convenient.

The thing is though…. that strangely that is all ok. Sometimes it bogs me down and I can’t see past what I don’t have. But then (after those 2 hours of craziness) i realize what I do have.

I have more than I ever have before. I have more courage and patience. More knowledge of other cultures and ways of doing things. More independence. More responsibility. More flexibility. More freedom. More experience. More choices.

It is completely my life now. 100 percent. And I couldn’t be more proud. I am so fortunate for everything that I have. With everything going on I have realized what is important and what isn’t. I realize how lucky I am and how important it is to never take a day for granted.

You are alive and breathing. Make the most of it.

Well Hello Again World!!!!

Where have I been? Honestly. I do not know why I have not been writing. I think it is a combo between the fact I have been incredibly busy and that I no longer can use an American keyboard very … Continue reading

Happiness

It’s been ages since I have written and usually that only happens when I feel uninspired… but this time it’s because i have just been too busy living. That sounds weird or like i am bragging or like im too good for this blog, (doesn’t it??) That isn’t the case though.

I have been in France almost a year. And honestly it took that long to get what I want. I finally have everything I wanted. I am so happy. I don’t really have much to say in this post but it feels weird not to write. But it would also feel weird to sit here and go on about how awesome my life is right now. So this is all I got. A short little life update.

Life is good.

And for those of you wondering if you should just jump in the deep end even if you are scared s@*tless… do it. It will work out.