As I was brainstorming for this blog, I – more times than I’ll admit – found myself totally stuck. I felt like I had to write about the greatest, most underrated “alternative” location that readers could go to and have a life changing experience. I put all sorts of pressure on myself to pick the right place. I scrolled through my photos, trying to justify place after place as the best alternative spot, but none of them seemed quite right. I define an alternative travel destination as one without tickets, lines, and crowds – a setting that allows you to soak in your surroundings. In short: a place that takes you on an adventure, while making you feel right at home.
We’re taught to use the buddy system the moment we start Kindergarten. Take a buddy to the bathroom. Take a buddy to the office. Here’s your field trip buddy. That’s your recess buddy. We have lab partners. We have PE dance class partners. We find a best friend. We find groups of friends. We go to dances and parties in pairs. We’re assigned a walking partner for high school graduation ceremonies. We’re assigned a college roommate. The list goes on.
Now – don’t get me wrong – I don’t disagree with the buddy system. I’m sure I’ll enforce it with my own kids someday. But I do think there are times in life that you should walk alone.
Rich: having a great deal of money or assets OR plentiful and abundant
I left California thinking I was a well-rounded, well-travelled, rich (the second part of the definition) person. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Many of us create and collect our opinions, we determine what we value, and we decide who we want to spend our time with (as well as where we spend it) based on the environments we’re raised in. We – sometimes subconsciously – inherit these things from those that came before us: grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, siblings, friends, etc. It’s safe and comfortable to believe and continue living within the “familiar”, and I’ve learned that there’s really nothing wrong with that. However, those that do seek and find the opportunity to travel come to know richness much greater than material or monetary items can provide.
I’ll never forget the burst of excitement I felt as I walked off the plane in Manchester. I wore my backpack (the big one I’d use for weekend travel trips) and a huge smile (the kind that you can’t wipe off your face). After hours of preparation, I was finally in England – my new home for the next year. I found the bus that would shuttle me to the University of Sheffield, and an hour later, I was dropped off just outside my new flat. I checked in and was led to my room. None of my flatmates were around, so I decided to unpack before venturing out to find some food for dinner. It didn’t take long to organize my tiny room, so I sat on my bed, staring up at the pictures I’d taped to the wall. It was then that it hit me – I wouldn’t see any of the people that I loved the most for an entire year. I burst into tears, imagining all the things I might miss while I was gone. Unsure of how to make sense of what I was feeling, I decided to wander around Sheffield to clear my head. As I tried to follow a map, I looked up just in time to see the perfect advice. On what I later found out is the Psychology building (one of my classrooms), was a quote by Albert Einstein: “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is to never stop questioning."