Traveling Teaches You Life Lessons Beyond Just The 'Travel Experience'

Traveling Teaches You Life Lessons Beyond Just The 'Travel Experience'

Traveling and experiencing various cultures taught me a lot.

This Christmas instead of new shoes, clothes and toys I asked Santa to travel. I decided to ask for experience rather than material objects. I went on a cruise with two of my friends and their families. The places I got to see were breathtaking.

Traveling and experiencing various cultures taught me a lot.

This was the first stop off of the boat, St.Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. We stopped at the port with no plans or ambitions. We found a nice local who drove us around to show us the island in depth.

It was amazing.

The houses sat in the mountains surrounded by trees and greenery. It was hard to see some areas, it was evident that Irma impacted in a costly way. Wooden slabs were placed around with spray paint that said, "Houses back here with no power." This affected me a lot because I live in Florida and thought my five-day streak without power was a challenge.

This destination taught me to appreciate everything I have.

San Juan, Puerto Rico was the second place we visited. It was beautiful and unique. There were stores everywhere and narrow streets that contained a lot of history.

There were many street vendors and locals along the roadside who were selling objects such as handmade jewelry and paintings.

It was mesmerizing to watch people make such art with such elegance and somehow make it look so easy. Everyone I met was pleasant and joyful.

San Juan taught me that kindness is the best quality a person can have.

The last place we went to was Nord, Haiti. The water and surrounding views were spectacular. We went jet skiing, and I learned that jet skiing in the ocean is a lot more challenging than in a lake.

I quickly caught on that you can't go as fast when you approach a wave once I was thrown off the side into the middle of the ocean.

After that adventure, I visited the vendors and sellers that surrounded the area. Everyone was very ambitious to sell, they created such beautiful pieces and were willing to sell them for minimal prices. Their spirits were unbeatable.

Haiti taught me to be humble with whatever I do.

Cover Image Credit: Rowan Cassarly

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I'm A Midwestern Girl With Big City Dreams

The first time that I visited the city, I felt like that was where I belonged.

College is a time in everyone’s life where people are thinking about and planning for their future. As I think heavily about my future and dream job, there is one thing that I will never forget: where I came from.

Growing up in small-town Iowa has been the greatest blessing. Everyone knew me, and I knew them. I loved being able to play and run around our spacious backyard. The free-ness of driving down gravel roads with the windows down and feeling the warm summer breeze.

I never had to worry about our neighbors being too loud, or waking up in the middle of the night because of sirens or honking horns. My hometown community was very supportive and I felt the love and sense of belonging every time I stepped foot on the field or in the classroom. I wouldn't have wanted to grow up any other way.

However, the first time that I visited a large city, I felt like that was where I belonged. Driving into Chicago for the first time and seeing the large buildings was mesmerizing. I longed to explore the depths of this large, mysterious place. Something about the rush and the busyness of the city made me feel at home. I knew right away that I could see myself living in a place like this someday.

Unfortunately, our occasional trips to the city are way too short. Since my first visit, I've dream about living in a small, cozy downtown apartment and waking up every day to the excitement of the city. Sipping my coffee and staring out my window at the bustling streets and non-stop activity. I long for daily walks down the sidewalk, passing by store windows and seeing the unique styles of clothing everywhere I look.

The city always has something to do, and the size makes me feel a part of something much bigger than myself. Growing up, my friends and family always described me as a "city girl," and living in the city seemed to fit my style, personality, and dreams.

Don't get me wrong — I loved everything about my childhood and how I was raised. In fact, I don’t think that I would appreciate the city and all that it has to offer if it wasn’t for my country roots. The city was something completely different from my life in Iowa, and that is why it excites me so much.

I am confident that my Midwestern values will serve me well in the future. My roots will most definitely follow me, and don't be surprised if you catch me jamming to country music while strolling the streets of New York City someday.

Cover Image Credit: Photo by Federico Respini on Unsplash

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5 Places You Must See The First Time You Visit Anchorage

Check out a few of my favorite Alaskan sites.

About a month ago, I went to Anchorage, Alaska for the first time with my fiance. We spent four days bouncing around the city and trying to see as much as we could. We had the time of our lives. These are just a few of the highlights from our trip, and I think absolutely everyone needs see all of these places the first time they visit Anchorage.

1. The Anchorage Museum.

The Anchorage Museum was by far our favorite place that we went on this trip. We loved how the museum blended historical information with modern displays, and we definitely spent more time than we should have in playing with all of the interactive elements in the "discover" section. Plus, standing in front of the museum makes for a picture-perfect pose:

2. The Mount Baldy Trailhead.

This is definitely more for those who enjoy being in the outdoors, but we had a blast hiking up Mount Baldy. The trail is technically in Eagle River, which is about half an hour outside of Anchorage, but it's worth the drive. When we went, it was extremely icy and slippery, but every step we took rewarded us with amazing views and awesome memories. The icy conditions kept us from making it to the top, but we're hoping to try again on a summer trip in the future.

3. The Anchorage 5th Avenue Mall/The Midnight Sun Cafe.

We spent a good amount of time at the Anchorage 5th Avenue Mall picking up souvenirs and presents. The mall had everything from adorable Alaskan gift shops like Once in a Blue Moose to your basic Bath and Body Works. We also really loved The Midnight Sun Cafe, a little local restaurant that is located right underneath the sky bridge to the mall. We dipped into the cafe several times and we loved everything we tried from their Mexican hot chocolate to the casual sandwiches and chips they served.

4. 49th State Brewing Co.

This was our favorite restaurant we tried in Anchorage. They have a really great atmosphere and awesome food. My fiance tried their yak burger and I had a really awesome crabby grilled cheese and seafood chowder. This restaurant was a bit pricier than most of the other places we dined at in Anchorage, but it was worth every penny.

5. The Moose's Tooth Pub & Pizzeria.

My runner up for favorite restaurant is the Moose's Tooth. This is just a casual pizza joint, but we had a great time hanging out here, and I really enjoyed the Chicken Parmesan pizza I got. It probably wasn't the most amazing pizza in the world, but it is definitely a step above Domino's or Pizza Hut. It's fun and silly to go somewhere that was so stereotypical Alaskan.

Enjoy your trip!

Cover Image Credit: Tommy Tang

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