I Visited Six Different Countries in Twelve Months

I Visited Six Different Countries in Twelve Months

Traveling is one of the most incredible opportunities I have ever received.
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Many people cannot afford the opportunity to travel outside of the country, but this past year, I was lucky enough to travel to - not one, not two - but six different countries. Each trip was an incredibly stimulating journey, and I would recommend everyone to travel abroad at least once in their life.

The countries I traveled to over the past year were St. Barthelemy, Costa Rica, France, Poland, Israel, and Thailand. They were all so different from one another but incredibly special in their own way. No matter where you go, you will experience something through traveling that you have never seen before, and it will blow you away.

When I was in St. Barthelemy, I experienced the lovely lifestyle of the French beaches. There, I spent incredible family bonding time, enjoyed an exciting romance, authentic nightlife, and appreciated the night sky full of stars. I also got to ride on a vespa for the first time ever; it felt incredible zooming down streets as the wind hit my face. I tried different foods, met all sorts of people, and did things that pushed me out of my comfort zone, which is a huge perk of traveling.

Traveling to Costa Rica was a completely different experience because I went with a group of my friends. I enjoyed listening to the beautiful Spanish language, riding along the beach and through a forest of trees on an ATV, and flying across a tropical forest on a zipline. I met people from all different parts of the world and was able to stand in a butterfly cage, holding a toucan on my arm.

I would never be able to do these things at home; that is the beauty of traveling.

In France, I traveled without a chaperone; it was just me and one friend, thousands of miles from home figuring out how to navigate our way in a town where we didn’t speak the language or know anyone. I felt like a true adult, forced to put myself out there. As a result, I met incredible people.

One night, my friend and I were walking along a gorgeous beach in St. Raphael (right outside of Nice), trying to get a taxi to take us back to our hotel. We couldn’t find a single person who spoke english or wanted to help us. I thought we were going to sleep on the streets that night! It wasn’t until we came across a group of people on their summer vacation who spoke English.

We were so relieved, and after getting to know these people, we ended up spending the whole night on the beach just talking to them. It’s those spontaneous run-ins that make life so special and bring excitement to the table.

My experience traveling to Poland and Israel was an absolute once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I will be forever grateful that I was able to go on the “March of the Living” trip. We traveled through Poland for one week, visiting five Holocaust camps, marching through Auschwitz with over 10,000 people, and visiting a few Jewish cemeteries. I really felt a connection with my ancestors and to the Jews traveling with me as we all experienced everything firsthand.

As I watched the people of today living in Poland, learning about the way people act and the way the food is cooked, I felt enamored. It was so real but so very different from what I would ever come close to experiencing at home.

The week I spent in Israel, on the other hand, was a bit more of an uplifting experience. After experiencing the lowest point in history for the Jewish population, I experienced their peak. Seeing firsthand how far the Jews have come showed that no matter how bad it is, it can always get better.

The Israeli culture is so cool and so much fun; it was extremely cool to see people dancing all over the streets, people complimenting you as you walk passed them, and the absurd but cool things being sold on the street. It was just overall a warm feeling spending a week there. Whether you are Jewish or not, there is something about Israel that makes you feel connected, which is an unbelievable feeling.

Thailand was something I’d never even come close to experiencing before. It was my first time ever going to Asia, so I had absolutely no idea what to expect. My mind was completely blown. Their culture is truly magnificent, and honestly, just watching how people live their life there is amazing.

I was able to learn about the religion of Buddhism (something I had only ever read about in textbooks) by actually visiting temples and watching people get on their knees and pray for hours. I tried all different types of foods, such as authentic Thai noodles and seafood, and I learned how they celebrate Christmas in Asia.

I was also able to experience the nightlife there and see how crazy but different it is from the United States.

There is something about travelling and experiencing different cultures that brings so much light and joy to my life.

When you travel to a new place, you are able to just let go, refresh your mind, and let wherever you are guide you in a new way of life.

Being able to savor all these memories and know that I have seen what it’s like to live a life completely different from mine is amazing. Going to a different state, or a different country truly is the one thing that will never fail to put a smile on my face, and I can’t wait to see what else there is to offer in this world.

Cover Image Credit: Aaditya Arora from Pexels

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7 Things You Know Only When you Grew Up In Nekoosa, WI

From Pumpkin Fest to Petey the Papermaker, what more could you ask from our small town?

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Growing up in Nekoosa, Wisconsin is something that I would never change. Living in a town with a population of 2000 is something that not everyone experiences, but I am glad that I did. The Nekoosa Papermakers are a mascot most people will never understand, and, while I may not be able to stand the smell of manure, I have no problem with the rancid smell of the mill. A close-knit, small-town community smack dab in the Middle of Nowhere, Wisconsin may not be the first choice for some to raise a family in, but, let me tell you, it is the place I will always call home. Every Friday night of fall is spent traveling near and far to support our football team, whether it's a good season or a bad. The experiences you have in a small town are unreal. Here are some things Nekoosians know all too well:

1. Pumpkin Fest

The Giant Pumpkin Drop

YouTube

The Giant Pumpkin Fest is held the first weekend of October each year. While its location may have changed, (and then changed again...and again), we still know it to be the same great event it always has been. From cool crafts, to volunteer opportunities, to the best food out there, you would be lying if you said you weren't pumped to go. Cheese curds, walking tacos, brats, cinnamon roasted pecans, cheesecake on a stick...okay, my mouth is watering. But, you can never forget the point of Pumpkin Fest: the 1,000 pound pumpkins and the magnificent giant pumpkin drop! And, there's always the competition to see who can carve the coolest pumpkin or who can kayak down the Wisco River.

2. Rome, WI

YT

Rome: not home to the Trevi Fountain or the Colosseum, but, rather, the place of golf courses and summer employment opportunities for high school and college kids returning to our quaint, little town. It's the place where rich Illinois families come to drive like maniacs and spend oodles of money on golfing and cabins on the lake. To us Nekoosians, Rome is an entirely different place. But, it truly is Nekoosa, no matter how hard we differentiate. Your friends may live in Rome, but, if you want to send them some mail, the address still says Nekoosa.

3. The Mill Smell

Wisconsin Rapids City Times

Out-of-town friend in your car as you drive down Market Street: "Ewwwww, what is that smell?"

You: "Wait, what smell? Oh, that's just the paper mill."

Some days are good, some days are bad. Everyone in town knows at least one person who works at the mill or did at one point. And, if you really want some key bits of information, check out that Domtar sign to see what's new while you wait for three train cars to take their sweet time getting into the wood chip yard.

4. The Pool

A Dollar General was placed atop the unmarked grave of the former Nekoosa City Pool.

Wisconsin Rapids Tribune

Rest in Peace city pool. This thing was out of commission before I even turned old enough to ride my bike down the street and go swimming. However, I have fond memories of freezing for 8 a.m. swim lessons and dreams of going down the waterslide. Now, all we have to show for its complete and utter destruction is the Dollar General and the newest edition of retired living spaces, which look extremely nice. But, no worries, the Splashpad is on its way--it's no city pool, but at least it's something.

5. Beavers Dime Store

TripAdvisor

Beaver's Dime Store is the place for all your candy and crafting needs. It's the best place to get giant bags of Frooties or raffle tickets for Prom Committee. I'm sure before my time, it was quite the place to be. If I ever need yarn to make bracelets, I know exactly where to go. I have a fond memory of riding back to my house in the car after we stopped at Beavers and grabbed a miniature pool for my little brother, cousins and me. It may have only been three feet long and about a foot deep, but it was a pool nonetheless.

6. The Blue Water Tower

Mapio

Rest in Peace, once again. The Blue Water tower coming down was a historic moment for us all. For the longest time, the empty lot seemed so vacant. Who knew replacing it with the white one in the "Business Park" would be such a wounding experience for everyone? Blue Water Tower, you are very missed.

7. Peter Papermaker

Facebook

Anyone who didn't grow up in Nekoosa is thoroughly confused after reading this listicle item. Peter Papermaker, was our beloved mascot, who, up until January 2016, was scarier than all sin. Falling apart and mangled, Petey got his revamp. Some people like to comment on how it's not a very scary or intimidating mascot, but, really, have they ever lifted a roll of paper off the press? Didn't think so. Try again.

Cover Image Credit:

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:NekoosaWisconsinDowntown2WIS173.jpg

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the phrase that changed it all

Stop worrying and start relaxing.

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Have you ever heard something that just sticks with you and you don't really know why? Or maybe you do know why. Have you ever heard that one phrase or sentence that just opened your eyes to something that you never understood or thought about before? Or maybe what you heard stuck with you because it validated how you were feeling that day. Well I have, and that one little sentence came from a friend's Snapchat story.

That one phrase that caught my attention and has stuck with me ever since was, "You can be a sure person all you want, but that's not how life works."

Sounds silly right? But hear me out.

I heard this on the day that I was supposed to graduate from college, if I had done the typical four straight years of school. Not only was it supposed to be the day that I graduated, but it was supposed to be the day that my friend was supposed to graduate too. He was going on about how he was kind of blue that day but still very happy for everyone that was walking the stage, and that he knew that he needed to take time for himself, which I 100% felt, because I felt the exact same way.

I had a plan of how my life was going to be after I graduated from high school. But that is not how my life turned out. And for that I am extremely grateful. But this phrase really stuck with me because I had always been the type of person that planned everything out in detail and up until college my life went exactly how I wanted it to go. Life had never thrown me any curve balls so I just kept on planning my life out, like a little fantasy I had going on in my head.

This one phrase summed up my entire life after high school. Whatever I had planned for and tried to follow through with those plans step by step didn't seem to work out. Of course, I was frustrated and annoyed that nothing ever worked exactly the I wanted to. I knew that's not how life goes but I could never explain it or felt that everything was eventually going to be okay in the long run. That was until I heard the phrase, "You can be a sure person all you want, but that's not how life works." Once I heard that, everything changed. The way I looked at my life in the present, past and future completely changed.

I began to realize that life has it's own way of working things out. Which I already knew but always had a hard time believing. I heard that one single, simple, sentence and boom, I realized I was stressing myself out over things that are so small and won't matter in the grand scheme of things. I realized I was trying to have a picture perfect life when in reality no one has a picture perfect life, even though it might seem like some people do. There's always going to be hard days, and there's always going to be bumps in road on the way to achieve your goals.

I learned from this one single phrase that I need to take things one day at a time and keep moving forward. I learned that as long as I'm working toward achieving my goals, it doesn't matter how long it takes or how I get there. I learned that life works out how you need it to work out and not how you want it to work out.

Now like I said, I am extremely grateful that my life didn't work out the way I planned it. If life worked out the way I wanted it to work out, I wouldn't have all the great friends that I have now, I wouldn't be genuinely happy, I wouldn't have had all the great opportunities that I have now and so much more. I probably would be going insane from not learning how to cope and deal with high stress situations, I probably wouldn't have any friends or a strong support system and I probably would feel like my life is stuck in rut. Doing the same thing day in and day out.

From this one phrase I learned to stop and enjoy the journey that life is taking me on. I wish I had heard this way earlier on in life because when I look back on my life I realized the I missed so much because I was too busy trying to have such a perfect life. But now when I look at my future I can see so much more potential than I ever thought I could have. Though I don't regret missing anything that I missed, because I have a longer life than what I lived to make up for it.

So seriously stop sweating the small things and start enjoying your life. Stop trying to grow up too fast and enjoy being young and youthful. Stop trying to plan every detail of your life out because it's not going to work out that way.

Start enjoying every day. Sit back and enjoy the crazy beautiful ride that's called life. Trust me, you won't regret it.

Cover Image Credit:

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