The Gift Of Travel

The Gift Of Travel

Everyone deserves the gift of travel

There is nothing quite comparable to traveling. People of all different ages, ethnicities, and genders, all in one place. A mixture of first-time tourists, the annual visitors, and that country's citizens all buzzing about in one area.

Some travel for their job, to visit loved ones, or just for vacation. Whatever reason convinced them to hop on that plane, their experience is sure to be original each time. Whether it’s the same city they went to last week, or a brand new country they’ve never been to.

Traveling gives people the choice to change the way they live their life. It shakes things up and changes your perspective completely on yourself and on others.

When a person becomes immersed in a brand new culture, it changes their perspective on their own. The obvious barrier between the two is often language. You can gain the first-hand experience with this by traveling to new cities and countries such as Paris, France or Barcelona, Spain.

The language of Paris is predominantly French, and the city of Barcelona is filled with Spanish speakers. When you know very little of either, daily life gets a lot more complicated. This can instill a new type of panic inside you because maybe you couldn’t read the cafe menus, work out the maps, or communicate with the locals.

Don’t worry, you can quickly learn the simple phrases, most importantly, “Parlez-vous Anglais?”: Do you speak English? You may also learn that when visiting a new country, it shows respect to at least make an effort to speak in their language, even if it is to just ask if they know any English.

Some did and some did not, and you eventually will learn how to work the metro map in French after getting lost once or twice. This will give you a new appreciation for language, especially if you have never gone somewhere with people who didn’t speak your own, and you may start to respect the art of how different each one is. Just think, if you had never visited these new places, you never would have gained this new appreciation or found a sense of humility.

People often become so wrapped up in their own daily routine; working, eating, sleeping, and living the same life every day.

Traveling to a new environment and seeing that there are people living completely different lives and having their own unique experiences is extremely humbling. We often forget to pay attention and become self-absorbed, oblivious to how much more is out there.

The world is this great, giant place and as individuals, we are only a very, very small part of it. After feeling this humility overcome me and many others, it will stick with us when returning home and for the rest of our lives.

People learn a new appreciation for the word ‘home’ and what it really means. As soon as they arrive at a new place, they automatically start comparing it to their native country, whether those are positives or negatives, and gain a new perspective on how things work at home compared to this new temporary home.

People learn how to live and conform to the new countries ‘norms’ and social orders, even if it is just for a few days. A person can never truly know what it is to be a citizen of their native country without experiencing it from a distance, and this is most successfully achieved through travel.

Not only do people gain a new perspective and a humbling experience, they gain brand new life experience. They get to step out of their comfort zone and meet new people and try brand new things. People get to enjoy everything life has given them and gain a new appreciation for everything they are able to experience as a human on this earth.

New adventures and new stories to tell, new things to try, and a completely different way of living.

It’s like getting to swap places with a citizen from that country. It gives people the chance to hop into these new people’s shoes and learn everything they can in the time they’re given about who it is to be French or Spanish or Turkish, etc. They can look back at this part of their life and think that this is just one of the many versions of the person they are today. They can say to themselves that they expanded their horizons of the world and all the people living in it.

Overall, every person should be given the gift of travel. Everyone should get out at least once to experience a brand new culture. In time overseas, you learn so many new things about other people, but especially about yourself.

You can find how much you enjoy learning about the ways others live and learning how to adapt to a new environment other than your own. Traveling is a life changing experience, and it teaches people how to appreciate everything they have and everything they could do to be a better person for not only themselves, but to benefit the rest of the world.

Cover Image Credit: Cambre Codington

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I Visited The "Shameless" Houses And Here's Why You Shouldn't

Glamorizing a less-than-ideal way to live.

After five hours of driving, hearing the GPS say "Turn right onto South Homan Avenue" was a blessing. My eyes peeled to the side of the road, viciously looking for what I have been driving so long for, when finally, I see it: the house from Shameless.

Shameless is a hit TV show produced by Showtime. It takes place in modern-day Southside, Chicago. The plot, while straying at times, largely revolves around the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. While a majority of the show is filmed offsite in a studio in Los Angeles, many outside scenes are filmed in Southside and the houses of the Gallagher's and side-characters are very much based on real houses.

We walked down the street, stopped in front of the two houses, took pictures and admired seeing the house in real life. It was a surreal experience and I felt out-of-place like I didn't belong there. As we prepared to leave (and see other spots from the show), a man came strolling down on his bicycle and asked how we were doing.

"Great! How are you?"

It fell silent as the man stopped in front of the Gallagher house, opened the gate, parked his bike and entered his home. We left a donation on his front porch, got back to the car and took off.

As we took the drive to downtown Chicago, something didn't sit right with me. While it was exciting to have this experience, I began to feel a sense of guilt or wrongdoing. After discussing it with my friends, I came to a sudden realization: No one should visit the "Gallagher" house.

The plot largely revolves the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. It represents what Southside is like for so many residents. While TV shows always dramatize reality, I realized coming to this house was an exploitation of their conditions. It's entertaining to see Frank's shenanigans on TV, the emotional roller coasters characters endure and the outlandish things they have to do to survive. I didn't come here to help better their conditions, immerse myself in what their reality is or even for the donation I left: I came here for my entertainment.

Southside, Chicago is notoriously dangerous. The thefts, murders and other crimes committed on the show are not a far-fetched fantasy for many of the residents, it's a brutal reality. It's a scary way to live. Besides the Milkovich home, all the houses typically seen by tourists are occupied by homeowners. It's not a corporation or a small museum -- it's their actual property. I don't know how many visitors these homes get per day, week, month or year. Still, these homeowners have to see frequent visitors at any hour of the day, interfering with their lives. In my view, coming to their homes and taking pictures of them is a silent way of glamorizing the cycle of poverty. It's a silent way of saying we find joy in their almost unlivable conditions.

The conceit of the show is not the issue. TV shows have a way of romanticizing very negative things all the time. The issue at hand is that several visitors are privileged enough to live in a higher quality of life.

I myself experienced the desire and excitement to see the houses. I came for the experience but left with a lesson. I understand that tourism will continue to the homes of these individuals and I am aware that my grievances may not be shared with everyone -- however, I think it's important to take a step back and think about if this were your life. Would you want hundreds, potentially thousands, of people coming to your house? Would you want people to find entertainment in your lifestyle, good and bad?

I understand the experience, excitement, and fun the trip can be. While I recommend skipping the houses altogether and just head downtown, it's most important to remember to be respectful to those very individuals whose lives have been affected so deeply by Shameless.

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Day 3 In Italy: Florence

When you're so used to your hometown, other people's hometown are far more beautiful


Our final morning in Venice, we boarded a ferry and rode to the other side of Venice where we got on a tour bus and drove for about four hours to Florence.

Your browser does not support the video tag. On the ferry from one side of Venice to the otherBrooke Burney

Upon entering Florence, one of the first things we saw were the Ponte Vecchio. Our hotel was also just adjacent to it so we got to walk across this bridge quite a few times.

Brooke Burney

Soon after we got to Florence, we put our luggage in the hotel and we were off to explore Florence. We went to a small town square and ate and met up at the church that was in that area. After this, we saw Pitti Palace, where there is a secret passageway lining the town where the chief could walk. The street that Pitti Palace is located used to be lined with butcher and leather shops, making the town smell unpleasant. The chief did not like this so he changed these butcher shops into jewelry shops where he was able to purchase whatever jewelry he pleased while it also did not smell up the streets.

Pitti PalaceBrooke Burney

After this, we walked to the Signoria Square where there were statues of some Greek gods and a replica of the statue of David.

Poseidon was under construction :(Brooke Burney

During this part of our tour it began raining, so we spent one or two hours trying to stay dry. Our tour guide had us huddle under a balcony but once that got crowded, we moved to a huge tourist shop where we stayed until it calmed down.

Brooke Burney

After this, we had time to shop and eat but once that leisure time was up, we were guided through the Signoria Square and were given the history of the buildings that stand there and we passed the church in which the Statue of David was originally supposed to reside.

The Statue of David was going to go in that nook on top of the dome, under the golden crossBrooke Burney

At this time it was about 7 PM and we were headed to a cooking school where our entire group prepared dinner for everyone. Some of us were making the appetizer, others making the main course, and rest were making desert. I made pasta, and we made it from scratch which was not as difficult as anticipated and turned out delicious.

Made from scratch pastaBrooke Burney

After dinner we went back to our hotel, however before entering, our tour guide asked if the group wanted gelato. Of course, everyone piped in, except for the four of us girls that went together. Our tour guide told us he would take us to a club if we wanted to and our supervisor was okay with it. So we went to our room, got ready and then we were off to the club that is right around the corner from our hotel. If you want to read about that experience here's the link!

Once we got back, we went to sleep around 3 AM, and we were ready for more exploration tomorrow; bright and early.

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