4 Ways To Be Present While Traveling

4 Ways To Be Present While Traveling

The intangible, yet most important, part of traveling.

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In the summer of 2017 I left the country for the first time. I spent two weeks on the island of Java in the country of Indonesia, and I fell in love with the new-ness of culture, people, language, and food in a way that I didn't previously believe was possible. I have fallen in love with every place I've visited so far, and each country and city has taught me something different. Each one has taught me to love a new location, to be okay with a new bed (if there is one), and to eat what's given to you (no matter how strange).

Don't get me wrong, I love where I live here in Missouri, I love being in a comfortable home, and I'm a picky eater, but the adrenaline rush of being in complete oblivion of a place unknown to me is so addicting. Since my trip to Indonesia I have also traveled to England, France, and Jordan. All are beautiful in their own way, and I don't have a favorite (please don't ask me to pick). My tips about immersion will all be based on my first trip – to Indonesia. These five tips on how to truly be present in a place you're traveling to are not about things you can buy, or tours you pay for, or even the luxury of places you stay, but instead are focused on the intangible things such as friendships, language, and change of the heart.

1. Stay a while.

No one is asking you to stay forever, but spend enough time in one place that you are able to make a friend. It could be the barista at the coffee shop you go to, or someone at the park, but at least a week is enough time to make this happen. One week will allow you to see the way the local people live, as well as give you time to see all that there is to see in your travel destination.
I stayed for two weeks in Indonesia, and volunteered at an English Center where I made friends that I will have for a lifetime. I was able to go on gelato dates with my new friends, and still have time to see a volcano, go on a float trip, and conquer my fear of heights (kind of) by jumping off of a 35-40 foot cliff into water. Anything is possible to explore if you stay long enough.

2. Find the little things.

This is when knowing local people comes in handy. Your new local friends will suggest the best places to eat, tour, take pictures of, and where the best local coffee shops are. Don't fall into the trap of your own imagination or the trap your own taste buds, step outside of yourself and live like a local.
On the island of Java there is bound to be great coffee (I mean…there has to be, right?) and some of the best coffee I found was actually in my hotel. None of the "chain" coffees came close to the taste of the tiny espresso-sized mugs of coffee I got at the hotel's breakfast.

3. It's not about you.

You're soaking in a new experience, not being your own experience. So many times I see travelers and friends leave the country expecting to change the world with their presence, but they're not letting their presence be changed by the world. When you travel to your next location, look for ways you can be educated about the place you're in, listen to your new friends and strangers, and find every excuse to spend the most time outside of your hotel room.

4. Rest.

You aren't going to remember your trip if your mind isn't rested enough to store more memories. Long flights and travel wear people out very quickly, and your excursions aren't going to be as exciting if you're not awake to remember them. However, if you need to adjust to a large time difference, don't go to bed until 8 pm the first day that you're there. That will allow your body to readjust to the time zone quicker so you'll be more rested for the days ahead.

Wherever you're going, I hope you learn the most you can and that you immerse yourself into a beautiful culture. Even if you don't understand it at first, allow yourself to be open to differences. Stop comparing your destination to "what's back home" and just let yourself be! Travel is meant to be an addition to your cultural portfolio, not a comparison. I hope these tips help you to have a better understanding of how to venture into a new culture. Have a great trip!

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It's Time To Thank Your First Roommate

Not the horror story kind of roommate, but the one that was truly awesome.
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Nostalgic feelings have recently caused me to reflect back on my freshman year of college. No other year of my life has been filled with more ups and downs, and highs and lows, than freshman year. Throughout all of the madness, one factor remained constant: my roommate. It is time to thank her for everything. These are only a few of the many reasons to do so, and this goes for roommates everywhere.

You have been through all the college "firsts" together.

If you think about it, your roommate was there through all of your first college experiences. The first day of orientation, wishing you luck on the first days of classes, the first night out, etc. That is something that can never be changed. You will always look back and think, "I remember my first day of college with ____."

You were even each other's first real college friend.

You were even each other's first real college friend.

Months before move-in day, you were already planning out what freshman year would be like. Whether you previously knew each other, met on Facebook, or arranged to meet in person before making any decisions, you made your first real college friend during that process.

SEE ALSO: 18 Signs You're A Little Too Comfortable With Your Best Friends

The transition from high school to college is not easy, but somehow you made it out on the other side.

It is no secret that transitioning from high school to college is difficult. No matter how excited you were to get away from home, reality hit at some point. Although some people are better at adjusting than others, at the times when you were not, your roommate was there to listen. You helped each other out, and made it through together.

Late night talks were never more real.

Remember the first week when we stayed up talking until 2:00 a.m. every night? Late night talks will never be more real than they were freshman year. There was so much to plan for, figure out, and hope for. Your roommate talked, listened, laughed, and cried right there with you until one of you stopped responding because sleep took over.

You saw each other at your absolute lowest.

It was difficult being away from home. It hurt watching relationships end and losing touch with your hometown friends. It was stressful trying to get in the swing of college level classes. Despite all of the above, your roommate saw, listened, and strengthened you.

...but you also saw each other during your highest highs.

After seeing each other during the lows, seeing each other during the highs was such a great feeling. Getting involved on campus, making new friends, and succeeding in classes are only a few of the many ways you have watched each other grow.

There was so much time to bond before the stresses of college would later take over.

Freshman year was not "easy," but looking back on it, it was more manageable than you thought at the time. College only gets busier the more the years go on, which means less free time. Freshman year you went to lunch, dinner, the gym, class, events, and everything else possible together. You had the chance to be each other's go-to before it got tough.

No matter what, you always bounced back to being inseparable.

Phases of not talking or seeing each other because of business and stress would come and go. Even though you physically grew apart, you did not grow apart as friends. When one of you was in a funk, as soon as it was over, you bounced right back. You and your freshman roommate were inseparable.

The "remember that one time, freshman year..." stories never end.

Looking back on freshman year together is one of my favorite times. There are so many stories you have made, which at the time seemed so small, that bring the biggest laughs today. You will always have those stories to share together.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things You Say To Your Roommates Before Going Out

The unspoken rule that no matter how far apart you grow, you are always there for each other.

It is sad to look back and realize everything that has changed since your freshman year days. You started college with a clean slate, and all you really had was each other. Even though you went separate ways, there is an unspoken rule that you are still always there for each other.

Your old dorm room is now filled with two freshmen trying to make it through their first year. They will never know all the memories that you made in that room, and how it used to be your home. You can only hope that they will have the relationship you had together to reflect on in the years to come.


Cover Image Credit: Katie Ward

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Second Day In Italy: Venice

The fun is only beginning!

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We wake up at about 8 AM, get on the water bus and head to the main island of Venice and head to St. Mark's Square.


St. Mark's SquareBrooke Burney


Our tour guide had scheduled a tour of Doge's Palace or Palazzo Ducale. Here, we met a local tour guide who gave us these devices, in which we would soon become familiar.


Waiting in line to enter Doge's PalaceBrooke Burney

They are radios that have a single headphone. The group wears them while the local guide speaks into a microphone which transmits through the radio so they don't have to yell over the other groups. Almost every other tour group that was there spoke another language, which was really interesting to listen to. But the Doge's Palace has immaculate architecture, incredible art pieces, and lots of history!


EntranceBrooke Burney


Courtyard of Doge's PalaceBrooke Burney


Complaint box Brooke Burney


Upper View of the courtyardBrooke Burney

One of my friends and I actually fell behind the group to take this picture as we wanted to see what was on the other side even though not many groups were going that way. Eventually, we decided that we were gone for too long so we had to run through tunnels and through an underground prison where we found the rest of our group.

After this tour, we walked through Venice, got on a boat and rode for thirty minutes to Murano. Here, we visited a glass shop. We watched a man make a vase and a glass horse while someone was telling us all about the art of glass blowing.


Murano Glass FactoryBrooke Burney


The whole thing took less than 20 minutes which was crazy to me. After the presentation, we perused in their shop. I was openly taking pictures of some of the works until one of the employees told me I couldn't. I don't want to post those pictures so here's a link if you want to look at some of their work.

After this, we went back to Venice where we had about three hours to eat and do whatever we wanted. Our tour guide suggested that we try squid ink pasta and I, adventurous as I am, had to try it.


Squid ink pastaBrooke Burney

It's actually way better than you'd think. It's kind of like chicken Alfredo but with bits of squid instead. After our few hours of leisure, we were to tour the St. Mark's Basilica. We were not allowed to take pictures but the inside of this church had almost, if not every, bible story painted on the walls and ceiling. Plus, the place where they hold mass is beautiful. It does not matter what religion you associate with, this church is a must-see. It's incredibly stunning.


St. Mark's Basilica Churchhttps://www.venetoinside.com/attraction-tickets-in...

After this tour, we finally got to ride the gondolas! The experience was incredible and completely worthwhile. Even though in the moment it didn't seem too exciting, it was totally worth it and I would do it again in a heartbeat.


Gondola dockBrooke Burney


In the canalBrooke Burney


In the canalBrooke Burney


The ride lasted about thirty minutes and the water was maybe three feet throughout the whole canal. Even though the Gondolas were everywhere, our tour guide took us to one of the prettiest routes. When we were finished, we had time to explore, so me and the three girls walked around where we got off the gondola which was about a mile from St. Mark's square. We looped around to a water bus dock which happened to be the one closest to St. Mary's Hospital which was built during the black plague.


St. Mary's HospitalBrooke Burney

When we got back to St. Mark's Square, we shopped around before we found a man who was feeding pigeons. Three out of four of us had gone to France four years prior and we HAD to reenact some pigeon pictures.


France, 2015Debbie Burney



Italy, 2018Karstin Allsup


By this time, it was about 7 pm so we met as a group and went to dinner. Afterwards, we went back to our hotel and our tour guide had told us that there was a beach down the street of our hotel. We had to walk across the island to get there but it was a straight shot. Even though it was dark at this point, we still wanted to put our feet in the water!

And tomorrow, Florence!

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