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.