Pre-study abroad I’d always considered myself to be a meticulous planner. I like to be able to have a plan before jumping into anything, which can be a good and a bad thing. The travel partners I met in Germany definitely changed that for the better. There were days where I would take the bus to the Hauptbahnhof and jump on a train because I was bored and get off at a stop that looked or sounded interesting and because I could. I stayed with a girl that visited my high school for 4 weeks in Münich because it meant being able to go to Oktoberfest without paying an absurd amount for a youth hostel. One night at a party I was talking to someone I just met about going to Paris the next morning, and she enthusiastically agreed. It never happened, but the possibility of it was incredible. I felt like the entire world lay at my feet and I could get there from the bus stop outside my apartment. I definitely caught a case of the travel bug.
A phrase that really stuck with my in my adventure was “you can never get lost if you don’t know where you are going”. So when my friends and I would travel, we usually spent the first day wandering around a new city and we always stumbled upon really amazing things that we might not otherwise have experienced had we had a set plan. My friend and I went to Hamburg simply to eat good fish, and it was definitely a mission accomplished. In one weekend we had sushi/cooked fish 4 times. While we were there, we took a day trip to Lübeck, and we were looking for a coffee shop and ended up walking right into a Lübecker Mazipan store by accident. My mom bought Lübecker Mazipan every year for Christmas to put in my brother and I’s stockings. It’s the little things sometimes that make the most lasting impact.
The beginning of the biggest adventure of my life. All of the fear, excitement, adrenaline, confusion and curiosity had finally led me to the place I had dreamed of being for so long. In this photo I had just discovered that there was a castle in the center of my temporary home…Bienvenue a Angers!
This is a picture of a Japanese festival movable shrine called a Mikoshi. This picture is from the Kawagoe Festival. I had read about Mikoshi before but this was the first time I’d seen one in use. The people on it play music and dance. It was my first Japanese festival and I enjoyed it a lot. The food there was great. It was a lot of the same stuff at a variety of vendors. Food included chocolate covered bananas, okonomiyaki, takoyaki, yakisoba, yakitori, and a lot of other stuff. This took place along a normally busy road and it was shut down for days. I was impressed with the scale of the event. In my opinion, there is not really anything in America that is equivalent to a Japanese festival but the atmosphere of it is a little similar to a county fair, mostly in regards to food and stalls.
One of my favorite times while abroad in Morocco was when I spent a short vacation in the Pre-Saharan Desert. I went for a few days with friends from school to spend four days in the desert. We spent the days riding through the dunes with our camels, and the nights singing and dancing around the bonfires. Our campsite consisted of ourselves, our camels, and the tents. In the mornings we woke up early, 4am or so, to climb to the top of the highest dune nearby and watch the sunrise over the dunes. In the weeks before my trip to the desert I had been had been struggling a lot. I was having a really hard time abroad, and during this trip and especially in this moment I realized how important it was to take a step back, appreciate the simple things, and realize how lucky you are to have the things you have in your life. I had never seen something so simple and beautiful. My experience as a whole in Morocco was amazing. Although I faced a lot of challenges, I also learned to appreciate a lot of simple things and be grateful.
Overall, New Zealand was an unbelievable experience. This specific photograph was taken on a hike in the Mt. Cook National Park. A few friends and I traveled here for an overnight excursion. When we arrived, it was very foggy and we could not see the glaciers around us, so we had no idea where we were. When we finally made it to the overnight hut, we made dinner and slept. We woke up to this view. It was absolutely breathtaking. I couldn’t have felt more free. The people I surrounded myself with on the trip as well as the vastness of nature was when I truly fell in love with the country. I knew that I would move back to live permanently one day.