Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Take Me Back...

As finals approach and stress levels start to soar, I can’t help but think of how much I’d like to get away. If I could just hop on a plane and go wherever I wanted to, it would make me so so so happy. This past summer I finally fulfilled my dream of going to Europe. It was the quickest two weeks of my life, and maybe the most wonderful.

“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” Gustave Flaubert

I have a slight obsession with quotes, and while writing this post I went to look up quotes about travelling. Nothing quite summed it up like the quote above. I had the amazing opportunity to visit cities like Amsterdam, Munich, Paris, Venice, and London while I was abroad. My trip was nearly four months ago and so quick, yet I feel like I remember so much. Wine tasting in Italy, exploring Amsterdam, a gondola ride in Venice, taking a cable car to the top of Mount Pilatus in Switzerland, and my personal favorite, spending a  night out in Paris wandering aimlessly until 4am—I had never felt so alive, and at the same time I had never felt more insignficant.

You might think feeling insignficant would make one depressed, but there’s something to be said for traveling somewhere new. In a new environment, with a new language and new customs, you feel out of place—a feeling I am not accustomed to having lived in the same small town for the majority of my life. Going to Europe terrified me; leaving Boston to fly out to Amsterdam, even with my best friend at my side, was nerve-wracking. But I know neither of us would trade our experience for the world.

I realized it when I was on the second floor of the Eiffel Tower, overlooking beautiful Paris at midnight. In the short amount of time I had up there, I had a new understanding of the world. Every time I experience a new place of some kind of significance I do my best to really take it all in. There really are no words to explain how happy I was that night. I think the thing that made me feel so small while I was abroad was my really coming to understand that the world is huge—there is so much to see. And when you’re in a new place, as a tourist it’s your job to take in the sights, get just a glimpse of a city’s culture before you have to leave. Appreciate what a place that isn't “home” has to offer, even if leaving home scares you.

When I was sitting in Heathrow at the end of our trip, writing my post cards to family members (some of which I have yet to send…), I nearly started crying. Sure, some of the days on the trip were hard—like when the air conditioning on our bus busted and we spent a few hours at a repair shop in the middle of I’m still not even sure what country. For the most part though, I felt like a completely new me. There are so many hard things in life—school,  relationships, jobs, you name it—but if I lived every day like I lived when I was in Europe, if I felt every day like I felt in Europe, then nothing could break me. The best lesson I’ve learned in my twenty years is just how small I am, that in the grand scheme of things, what’s really going to matter is how I lived. What’s really going to matter are the lives I touched and the people I loved. I’ve learned from traveling what no teacher, no textbook, no one could really teach me. What makes this world go round are the dynamics between all the nobodies of the world, making an impact on a stranger, a friend, a family member. This is going to sound so epically lame, but what I really learned from my time in Europe is that everyone wants essentially the same thing. Everywhere I’ve visited, I’ve seen some kind of expression of love. In some places, it’s more obvious and in others you really have to look for it, but it’s there. And if that isn’t a comforting thought, I don’t know what is.


Lauren said...

I love this post, I can so relate to it!


Emily Blauvelt said...

Thank you so much!!