Sunday, June 30, 2013

Oh The Places You Will Go...

  The past 7 summers I have been blessed to be able to go someplace I haven't been before, this summer was in keeping with that. 
I love teaching! But I also LOVE my summer break!!! Traveling is by far my favorite hobby (and how I wish it wasn't so expensive!!). 
But I really think that my whole attitude about traveling really changed after Katrina. 
Now don't get me wrong, I have always LOVED to GO! Growing up in a pastors home I got to meet a lot of missionaries and would love to hear the stories of the amazing places that they were serving in. My mom said when I was young, on more then one occasion, I would want to go with the visiting missionaries. I was also the kids that lived for summer camp! I started going when I was just 5 haha! 

But let me get back to how my attitude changed about traveling due in a huge part to Katrina. Prior to Katrina I had been a few places, summer vacation, summer camps in North La (which if you ask anyone from South La it's really a whole other world up in those parts haha!), and even went to a summer camp in Arkansas.
But really the travel bug bit me at an early age when my parents brought me to Venezuela for a missions trip when I was just 13. I got to go to the highest peak in South America, got to try new foods, made a visit to Colombia, learned a lot about how people drive in another country (never have I heard my Dad pray as much as when we were being driven by the locals...seriously there are no driving laws and signs and lights are there just for show), and I got to see how both the rich and poor lived in this very wonderful and different country. I didn't do much traveling after that trip, I went to Alaska for the summer when I was 18 to get out of my small town for a bit, then lived in OK with some friends for a few months while I figured out what I wanted to do with my life. But I didn't leave the country again till the summer following Katrina. 

I had always dreamed of going to Europe and put it on my list of things that I was going to do. I was determined, but still wasn't sure how to go about checking it off my list. Then Katrina happened and I ended up having to transfer to Nicholls to finish my teaching degree. The summer after Katrina I was still dealing with a lot of emotions about losing all of my stuff, home, community, and such and me and some girlfriends decided that we needed a break and Jamaica sounded good! We did a girls trip to Jamaica for 5 days, had a blast and the travel bug was back in a big way for me. I came home and found out that Nicholls offered a summer study abroad program. I could go to Europe with them for 17 days and get one of my history credits...sounded like a Win Win to me! I went and fell in love! I loved the whole thing about traveling. I love seeing places that I had only read about, trying new foods, soaking in all the amazing cultures, being blown away by all the beauty that is out there, meeting new people, learning how to make my way around a new city or town, and just enjoying being somewhere where I had never been. 
One of the things that I had really taken from the whole Katrina situation was that "Things," & "Stuff" can be taken from you at any point in your life. While experiences, memories, and relationships are the things that truly matter and can't ever really be taken from you because they change you in some way. They are the things that make us who we are. I decided after Katrina that I didn't want to invest my life into things but rather experiences and to make memories that no one or thing could take from me. Since Katrina I have been out of the country for all but one summer...that was the summer we decided to do a road trip to the Grand Canyon...AMAZING!! Last year I even got brave and brought some of my students to Europe. I loved getting to be apart of them experiencing some amazing sites and trying new things. I was back to Europe this summer with the Nicholls group that I first went to Europe with. It was a lot of fun to go to some of the places I have been before, and as always I got to go to a few new places as well.
It was a 16 day trip and for the most of the trip we went to places that I had been to before. But I do love some of the repeat places. By far Florence is one of my favorite places and I loved that I got to sit in my favorite coffee house in Venice and just people watch. Here are some of my favorite pics from my trip:

In front of the Fountain of Neptune in Signoria Square
 Florence is my favorite place. Someone recently asked me why and this was my reply, "I love the art, history, the feel of the city and the Italian culture. I love to sit in one of the main squares and listen to the street musicians while sipping on some great coffee of eating a great meal. I love shopping in the markets and all of the street art. It's an easy city to get around in and just has a good pace to it."
 Yep, I did it...I took the cheesy tourist Pisa pic haha!!! Second time here and had a bit of fun. Not much else to do here.
In Verona eating one of my 17 gelatos of the trip! 
 Best day of the trip! Spent most of my time in Venice sitting in front of my favorite coffee shop the Florian and drank great coffee and people watched.
 Nurnberg, one of the new places in Germany that I had never been to
 Spinning the ring to be lucky in love
 In front of the Christmas store Kathe Wohlfahrt
 Hiking in the Swiss Alps. Adelboden Switzerland has to be on of the most beautiful places I have seen!

 To travel is to branch out of your comfort zone. To embrace all that is new, exciting, strange, and different. To make memories, change your way of thought about others, to embrace a different way of life, and to allow experiences to make an impression on you. Traveling makes you a learner of life, people and in most cases yourself. It is the embarking of the soul to embrace adventure to the point that you see beyond yourself and your routine way of life. It is about looking beyond what is right in front of you and pushing yourself to absorb every facet of all that makes that time and place what it is.  It's about collecting visual images, recording flavors, understanding cultures, wandering streets, and fully immersing oneself into new experiences. The true traveler returns home with a deeper love for the world they live in, a richer understand of mankind, and a collection of experiences that will forever change who they are.

~Till Next Time