“You’re off to great places, today is your day!” ~ Dr. Seuss
Stories to Last a Lifetime
Beyond the destination itself, one of my favorite aspects of travel is the stories each new adventure brings. In a world where photos and to a greater extent, social media helps us in documenting our experiences, when you strip that all away, what remains is the memories that are made. And those stories we tell our friends, family, and even conversations with strangers are what help to reinforce it. Even if the internet disappeared (crazy right?) and you had no photographic evidence to support yourself, you would still have the memory, firmly imprinted on your brain, forever. A story to tell.
A Conversation Starter
By now, it’s a well known fact that I studied abroad. Anytime there is a conversation that involves travel, I think I find a way to bring up my travels. Not for bragging rights, but because the trip was an experience that was so invaluable to me. Studying abroad gave me a completely different understanding of what I was capable of, how I could manage the stress of being in different countries, often where I didn’t speak the language. But more importantly, the trip provided me with the spark I needed to continue traveling and to share my experiences with others through story.
Over the course of the past six years, I have come across people from all walks of life who on the surface, I may not have anything in common with, until travel is brought up. A Frenchman and I discussed Paris on a bus ride together. My current co-worker took a trip almost identical to the one I’m taking this June, including a visit to the London Harry Potter studios. A friend of mine spent time in Switzerland while also studying abroad. Then of course, there is my world travel extraordinaire Uncle who has been to well over fifty countries and continues to travel extensively, well into retirement.
A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words…
But I can tell you with absolute certainty that the story behind that picture is worth even more. The best of storytellers will paint you a picture with a descriptive flair that allows you to immerse yourself in that story and feel as though you are a part of it. This is why people often get lost in great books. They feel a connection to the story and can imagine themselves whisked away to the location. I know it’s how I felt reading Harry Potter, which is one of the only books this college grad read cover to cover in his life. Or how Julie felt reading Outlander, which takes place in Scotland and serves as an inspiration for our upcoming trip there.
You don’t have to leave the country to have an adventure and a story worth telling. There are plenty of domestic trips out there. But the world is at times, an overwhelmingly large place with so much to see and do. It’s important to step outside your comfort zone and explore it. Make new memories because the stories you tell will connect you to a new audience you may have never known.
Out of our group of nineteen students from the study abroad program I participated in six years ago while in community college, I probably still interact with just a handful of them. We all have gone on to bigger and better things as our lives have taken us in different directions and to different cities, states, and countries. Yet, we will always have that trip as a collective group. Whether we stay friends or not, I know that we each learned something different on that trip, and the stories we tell together and separately can never be taken away. And I’ll keep telling my story to anyone who will listen.