Whether you take a long weekend in the desert, or spend three months backpacking Europe, traveling is a necessary ingredient in growing. It humbles you as an individual, and in certain location, it humbles you as an American. I have been fortunate enough to have traveled to numerous different locations during the 26 years of my life, and I have gained something valuable and different from each experience. Some are serious, most are silly, but all are my own personal experience.
AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND
I had the opportunity to study abroad on the Gold Coast of Australia my junior year of college. It was a once in a lifetime experience, and I formed friendships that I will have for the rest of my life. During my time studying abroad, I was able to spend multiple weeks in New Zealand – the most beautiful place on Earth.
What I gained from the land down under…
My lifelong friends Sarah, Kevin and Danielle.
A new appreciation for slowing down. Not everything in life needs to happen in a rush.
Anyone can wear a tank top.
You make more friends when people think your home state of Maine is part of Canada.
“Goon” AKA boxed wine, is the only affordable alcohol in the entire country.
Bungy jumping is terrifying.
The Southern Hemisphere has way more fun.
You have to travel hours from a major city to find traditional Australian culture.
Kiwi accents and Australian accents differ by how “relaxed” one sounds. Kiwis are very relaxed, while Aussies sound a bit more concise and choppy.
No matter how hard Americans try to imitate the Kiwi or Australian accent, they sound ridiculous.
Vegemite is bad. I don’t care what Australians say, I will never acquire that taste.
Upon returning from studying abroad in Australia, I had another amazing opportunity: to take part in a Field Studies in Ecology course in Brazil.
Well…what did Brazil teach me?
Rice & beans can be eaten for two weeks straight.
There are places in the world where animals are still wild. Let’s keep them that way.
Brazilian wildlife guides by the name of Roberto will get drunk, put on a speedo, and start a pool party. Then they will get fired.
Riding on horseback is the most amazing mode of transportation that exists.
Chiggers exist and will cover your legs in hundreds of welts.
If I go long enough without a shower, my hair can be molded into a mohawk.
We are so lucky to have unlimited drinking water.
Boys in Brazil as young as age six can make the most talented American men look like incompetent assholes on the soccer field.
Crocodiles have slow reflexes.
IRELAND, SCOTLAND, ENGLAND
Upon graduating college, I set off to Ireland to take part in WWOOFing (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms. Three friends and I lived on an organic farm with an Irish family for over a month, and then backpacked around Ireland, Scotland, and England. Holy hell were we in for a surprise.
If and when WOOFing, make SURE that you have fully researched the family you are about to live with. Otherwise, you will end up with a family from hell and be lucky to escape alive.
Traditional Irish pubs in Western Ireland do not accept credit cards. If you attempt to use one you will be the laughing stock of the town.
Guinness tastes great in Ireland. No where else.
Farmers cut down and clear their fields by burning them. You use a tractor to cut the grass, then you rake up pile after pile, forming an entire field of mini hay stacks. Then, you light a single pile on fire, and use pitchforks to grab a burning bundle, and run around from pile to pile spreading the fire from one to the next. Before you know it, the field is cleared and ready to plant or re-grow.
Peat moss is harvested and used by farmers as fuel for fires.
Scottish pubs will occasionally play Hanson’s “MMmm Bop”.
Tea can be consumed every hour on the hour.
In England, there is a canned alcoholic beverage called “K”. Stay clear of this unless you want to black out and never return.
The London underground system is amazing.
Never stay in the Dublin hostel named “The Shining”.
The English think Americans are obnoxious. When they see four American girls dressed in mini skirts, drinking K, and laughing loudly on the Tube, well, we earn our own reputation.
Platform 9 3/4 is not as exciting as you imagined. Keep it in your fantasies.