From riding a camel in Morocco to eating Belgian waffles in Brussels to surviving one of the world’s most dangerous hikes to visiting the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, these past two months have been filled with the most incredible moments of my life.
One of my favorite moments abroad! I got to ride a camel in Tangier, Morocco.
Traveling and studying in Europe has provided spaces for me to learn about how to live a more authentic life. Here are some of my “souvenirs,” or lessons from traveling.
Throw out the lists.
I used to fall into the trap of readings must-do lists: “10 Things you Must Do in Edinburgh,” “30 Tapas Bars you Must Eat at in Madrid,” “20 Small Towns in France to Visit.” I am realizing to have a more authentic experience in a city, I should do what I want to do, rather than do what others tell me I must do. I do not regret skipping the famous and “must do” Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam in favor of discovering a tulips market. I am learning to cultivate my own experience, rather than following in the footsteps of others who make all of the “must do” lists.
Visited one of the tulip markets in Amsterdam over the Rijksmuseum. Totally worth it!
Write. Write a lot.
While traveling, I make sure to write down all of my thoughts, feelings and experiences. After visiting the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, I wrote down some of my impressions on his paintings:
“Van Gogh attempted to capture the wholly ordinary, yet magnificent parts of daily life. He found the extraordinary in the ostensibly ordinary. I want to live a life that seeks beauty in the ordinary, and to live a life that is raw, colorful and wholly joyful.”
In 20 years when I reminisce about my time studying abroad, I want to read about the feelings that Van Gogh’s paintings elicited in me and how the paintings challenged my world view. I want to read about my time hiking up Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh with my friends. Since arriving in Spain, I have come to appreciate the potency of writing down my thoughts.
I make sure to capture all of my thoughts while abroad. I love going to the park near my apartment to journal!
Collect Moments, and not Things.
When I traveled to Belgium and the Netherlands for eight days, I only brought one backpack with three pairs of clothes. I know it sounds crazy, but I have learned that I never need as much as I thought. Traveling light has forced me to think whether I really need to bring that extra cardigan or a second jacket. Also, I save money on checked luggage! I pour my memories into my journal in lieu of buying a key chain that says “Amsterdam” on it. I am learning to cherish the experiences, rather than physical manifestations of the experiences.
The one souvenir that I allowed my self to get are the (free) wildflowers in Morocco!
Over the past 2 months, I have travelled to over 25 cities, 6 countries and 2 continents, and have collected the most incredible souvenirs—stories, experiences and feelings. I am learning to live a more authentic life, to embrace adventure and to breathe in every moment. I am so excited for the new people I will meet, the new cultures I will experience and new places I will visit in the next 3 months.
One of my favorite cities is a small town called Leiden in The Netherlands. The Reves Center offers a W&M-sponsored program at Leiden University for students!
Keep on learning and experiencing and traveling, Tribe!