The States couldn’t hold me for long.

After 5 months of being back to the states and going through reverse culture shock(which is way, way too real), day dreaming of far off lands and cultures, jumping at the sounds of a foreign language, gasping and feeling my heart ache every time I hear a word like “Italy” “Africa” “travel” “ocean” “adventure” “flight” “any random country, destination, or different food”…, constantly making travel plans and ideas, airlines becoming my most frequented websites, and looking at maps daily…my wanderlust brought me to my next “world” to learn from: Vietnam.

Southeast Asia has been 3rd on my list (behind Italy and South Africa) to get to for the past 5 years, so accomplishing all 3 of these within a year is, to say the least, unbelievable. I realize that I put a high value on travel because travel is a means of deep growth and understanding of ourselves and others. It makes me come alive and tests who I am and what I believe in. Travel allows individuals to see a new light, a new perspective, and a new tune. This is all unbelievable, and it sounds like it is always fantastic, but trust me – no one ever said travel was easy, but the challenges are matched and matched again with rewards. These moments will impact the way I go about living and loving. That being said, traveling has turned into a means of growing, and when deciding to either sit in a seemingly comfortable environment or to take on a new world, I didn’t question my heart once. The states have taken a new tune in my soul, but the rest of the world has a vast array of tunes to blend and skip new beats in my step.

So I’ve been in Vietnam for 3 weeks, and have 10 days left. It all kind of happens quickly, and with that, I’ve been spending more time embracing each moment and letting the thoughts out in my journal and plan to blog as I go on.

A few simple words..I love it here, I love the people, I love the culture, and most importantly, I love the kindness. The people are the main reason I travel and the people here have made these experiences stick in my heart. I laugh and laugh and laugh constantly – through the attempts to say words with my students, oi es oi oi! (OMG) …my attempts at Vietnamese. Hey, I’ve gotten pretty good actually. The bike rides through absolutely chaotic traffic (somehow it flows ridiculously smoothly), and new conversations with all of the “Emilys” while I order more nem chua ran and zuc zich and bia. Everyone is caught off by my attempts to speak in Vietnamese and I always end with oi es oi oi!! If I am lost or confused. I laugh every single day for hours, oh these people are great.

However, like anywhere, there are hard times. I’m still emotionally challenged and especially adjusting to my first time to SEA and my first post-SAS trip abroad. I’m with a whole new group of people, and not all have their minds, thoughts, ideas, life…changed from SAS. I’m with a new group of people that haven’t felt and seen the same things, or well, been immensely effected by the world all together in the same way. It isn’t the same conversation or the same connection, and that has been noticeably challenging. But hey – emotions are a part of us and they always come and go. This experience evokes different emotions and has stimulated my mind and journey, and nonetheless, has been one of those valuable experiences of growth. The hard times are often the best times because they teach you and teach you again. That’s what it’s about, isn’t it?

Well, to end this rant, I said that the states can’t keep me for long..and that’s okay. There is an entire world out there to see and people to share our lives with. The states will always be there, and they will always be home. But home is a light term now. Nebraska is my home, and so is the MV Explorer, and now, Hanoi. Ultimately…the world is my home.

Life Happens

Day in, day out, I follow my newsfeed checking what each blogger I follow has been up to. Inspiring, nonetheless, with new ideas and concepts to sit back and think about. Each week I get my reminder, as a blogger, saying “Express Yourself! (and meet your goal!), and the last one reminded me that “We know that sometimes life gets in the way…”. That got me thinking.

So here I am to say, life happens. And sometimes, it does just that – it gets in the way.

I’ve been saying “life happens” a lot lately, but why? What does that really mean and what am I trying to get at? Why does “it happen”?

Those two words tend to have hundreds of words packed into them. The simple gesture isn’t that simple; yet, somehow everyone tends to understand. We’ve all been there, we all know when it happens. 4 weeks ago classes started and I was back in “reality” at my home University, no longer exploring the world while studying abroad, no more extended ports and adventures, a change in pace (what happened to military time and 2 hour breakfasts?), over connected again in our world that needs desperately to learn to disconnect, less “spark” so to say, and no more miscommunication from language barriers, but on the ways we think and view our society and our ever changing world. Match that with taking 15 credits, lesson plans and papers for teaching, coaching on the weekends, 3 meetings in the evenings, being President of an organization, finding jobs, reconnecting with friends, freezing weather, and just trying to understand and adjust some to life back in this “reality”. Now that, is when I like to say “life happens”.

What surprises me is how easy it is to fall back in this fast pace, technology driven environment and get distracted by what we really enjoy or want to be doing. We get caught up in the actions of today and needs for tomorrow that we forget to live in the moment.

A mentor once told me “Are you truly living the days or simply moving through the actions?” I think we allow ourselves to get into this monotonous routine, which is fine for some, but we then often begin to neglect our passions and the simple things that give us joy while trying to conquer all of the other needs and demands of our day. This distracts us from doing things for pure enjoyment, like watching movies, cooking full meals, or writing. It too easily

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gets put on the back burner and I am one to say I abuse the term “life happens” when it comes to straying away from my desires.

So, we must ask ourselves what it is that we wish to be occupying our time with and why it gets set aside. Then, remind ourselves to stop for a moment and soak it in. It’s as simple as us taking a breath, sitting back, and letting the calmness sooth us with the fresh breeze of air, with a thankful smile of acknowledgement. Changing our pace, so instead of rushing through the sips, we’re enjoying the smell of the coffee. These moments bring out those big moments that matter the most, even if it is just for a little while. So life is happening right now, as I sit back and enjoy the moments of my weekend getaway to Chicago, and embrace the overnight buses that brought me here. Truly living the days!

As always, life happens.

I will make it to Nashville

At 11:45 p.m., 6 hours after my flight was supposed to take off, I sent the optimistic and somewhat demanding text of “I plan on getting on this plane” to my 2 close friends waiting to pick me up in Nashville. “I plan on getting on this plane” could explain a lot of things: my determination to see them, my hopeful spirit, my frustration towards delays, or simply, my I-will-do-anything-to-get-this-plane-to-take-off-no-matter-what-time-of-the-night attitude. At this point, it was clearly the latter. Over an hour later the plane took off to St. Louis, with me peacefully sleeping in row 10 with intentions of another flight at 4 a.m. to Nashville, and Waffle House adventures at 6…

Ha, I sure was naive. 

 

After 2 weeks of being home from my 5 month journey around the world, I decided it was time to get out again and start adventuring. It was a beautiful day in Nebraska and I was off to Nashville for a week to visit 2 friends I met while I was in Italy back in August. My friend joked with me as she dropped me off at the airport 90 minutes early that I would just have an extra 80 minutes sitting around while I waited for my plane. Security never takes more than 10 minutes in Omaha. To my misfortune, I arrived to over 150 people standing in line. “What is this?” I asked as I decided I wasn’t making my flight and might as well give up now. Turns out weather hit Chicago hard and flights there were backed up. I sighed, knowing Nashville was fine. I snuck in the front somehow, and made it through with 20 minutes to spare. It was after a few minutes that I realized my flight wasn’t going and found a 2 hour delay. Arriving just in time to miss my next flight. Great. I waited in another 100 person line to hear there is nothing I could do now over a 20 second conversation. Well, that was when I started eating my cookies and got comfortable.

Delay, delay, delayed, oh moved forward, ah delay, delay, another delay, delay.

1 airport pizza and 14 delays later, I arrived in St. Louis at 2:30 a.m. only to get told our flight for 4 a.m. was cancelled. Then, rescheduled on 2 more flights that were cancelled too. So it was 3 a.m., 11 of us sitting there exhausted and wanting Nashville. So that’s when my texting got real.

“DRIVING TO NASHVILLE YOLO!!” 

6 strangers hopped in a rental car, not a name known by any of us, 4.5 hour drive ahead. All of us were filled with adrenaline and this was exactly the adventure that I have been longing for since being back home the past 2 weeks. Something about the new group of strangers and desire to get to our destination made me just laugh and laugh and laugh. Literally we just rented a car and were off. What is life? 

Wake Me Up by Avicci, our Semester at Sea Fall 2013 song, came on and it was the first time I have smiled for it in weeks. This is what it is all about – continuing that adventure. SAS doesn’t end as we leave our beautiful home, but it sparks with each new journey. This was my first adventure, filled with everything unknown. Next thing you know I traveled across 4 states and made it to my “end point” with 1000 new memories. It’s crazy when hopping in a car with 5 strangers in the middle of the night becomes a casual, normal experience. Strangers, all originally from the midwest, with stories ready to be told. So this post, goes to us. Regg, the renown Physical Therapist with some “country boy” still in him. Jeff, the genuine father with 22 years of army experience. Haley, an aspiring country singer with plenty of twang. Fay and her daughter, ambitious and excited to get back to their family. And myself,inspired and always looking for my next adventure. Seriously, this is incredible. We shared stories through our middle of the night (or morning?) drive.

Oh, the best part of all, we all left our luggage on some unknown plane and took off. No worries, we are getting to Nashville! So my 4 hour planned trip turned into 19hours, 14 delays, 2 cancellations, 7 hours in the airport, 2 100 person lines, a 2am flight to St. Louis, 4.5 hour drive to Nashville, 6 strangers becoming friends, 1 lost bag..no clothes, dead phone, dead iPad, lost gloves, and long lost cookies. But most importantly, one spontaneous, perfect adventure with tons of laughs.

The adventure, that’s what it’s all about.

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The Travel Bug – A wonderful “sickness”

I remember being little and begging my parents to take us to Disney. Such a dream land and close to the unbelievable ocean and of course, the happiest place on earth. Well, after tons of begging and doing all of these nice deeds (like the dishes and getting the mail..I rocked those nice deeds) they decided to take us. Oh, take us camping that is. 18 miles away to be exact. Oh the adventure and the wonderful man made lake..definitely “the happiest place on earth”.

Even though we didn’t go to Disney, thankfully, I didn’t stop dreaming of traveling. I dreamed of maybe going to school on the coast, going to all of these big cities, and maybe even traveling the world. Getting as far as I can out there to experience and see new things. Farther than the constant cornfields on the left and right. I had this dream, and my parents blessed me with the support to travel on a People to People trip to the UK when I was 16. This trip was the major beginning of the endless doors opening ahead.

My first big trip was actually 3 weeks prior to the UK, when I took my first flight to Anaheim, CA for a national FBLA-PBL conference. After the UK trip, I kept saying that I would visit my new friends in Massachusetts and continue to travel. 1 year later, I along with 3 friends were on a 24 hour road trip to Boston to visit friends and see the country.

It is truly amazing where traveling and new friendships from different opportunities can take you. Since the California and UK trips, I have traveled to Boston 5 times (spending a month 2 times), NYC 3 times, San Antonio 4 times, Nashville twice, L.A. area 3 times, San Fran, Lake Tahoe, Denver, Chicago, Orlando, and so on. I found my passion through traveling, and I can’t stop planning trip after trip.

Traveling is one of the most valuable things you can invest in because you are investing in developing yourself. It is not merely a vacation (even though it may seem like it) but a huge opportunity to grow and understand other cultures and people. These experiences only happen through traveling and not reading through text books. The value is completely there. Now go for it. Do it for yourself.

I am continuing my passion by traveling Europe, Africa, and South America for 5 months & am already planning trips in the US for next year nearly every month! The travel bug is beautiful and you get to make it what you want it to be. It is all on you – grasp it. I got the bug 4 years ago and it has changed my life, goals, and dreams more than I could ever imagine.

Let that spark for your dreams start inside of you. & once you get the bug, you’re money management skills will sky rocket because you have something worth while to save for. Don’t stress – just go. Dream. Explore. Discover.

As I enter the blogging world..

Well, here it is – my life coming at you from behind an old keyboard most likely with a coffee nearby. I am finally stepping into the blogging world! Get excited.

The main reason for this is my upcoming Semester at Sea voyage through the Atlantic. This clearly will be the easiest way to connect with every friend, family member, and random stranger that happens to come across my voyage or random rants for posts. Well, I hope so anyway.

I am excited to blog because it will be a way to share my experiences and keep track of the details and emotions involved with every experience. There is so much out there to see and so many opportunities to learn and grow, so why not share it? I am hoping that I can handle keeping up with posting and sharing my endeavors and hopefully have inspiration from it.

I once heard from someone who truly inspired me with her life stories, experiences, and opportunities that “those who tell stories, have stories happen to them”. As simple as it is, it isn’t always obvious to people like it should be. People always say that they wish they could have the same experiences they hear..well why not? In the end, sharing these stories shows how we have lived them and will therefore put inspiration in others to fully live and develop their stories.

After all, don’t we all want our own story?

You can get to my Semester at Sea blog by clicking on that link, otherwise it has a tab at the top of this page. Please share my experience with others as you like!

Well…let the blogging begin.

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