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.
One place I visited outside of Istanbul was Cappadocia, a city in central Turkey, where I had the opportunity to go up in a hot air balloon. We took off from an empty field but when we got into the air we could see at least one hundred other balloons all around us, all there to see the sunrise too. It was an amazing point of view that we definitely don’t often get to experience.
The most important thing studying in Germany taught me is that there is no better time to travel then the present. I was perfectly situated in the heart of Europe to be able to go anywhere I wanted. I took a roadtrip through central Europe and visited Prague, Auschwitz, Cracow, Budapest, Bratislava and Vienna. Each city was like a little bite out of another world. It felt like a slideshow, where everyplace had it’s own food, culture, clothes, architecture and style. I had never met so many fascinating and different people in my life. One woman told me about her life in the Jewish quarters during WWII and another man about how he made a living selling gluhwein on the streets during the winter. It really opened up my eyes to how life really could go any which way. When you leave the Willamette bubble you shouldn’t limit your future to what you think is expected. There are so many options out there waiting for you that you couldn’t possible imagine now. When I got back from the trip I realized for the first time how constricted my thinking was. I used every last weekend of my time then in Germany to go out and see new places and meet new people. I suddenly knew that this way of living would always be something I desired.
I have wanted to study abroad in London for what feels like forever. People kept telling not to get my hopes up, but the experience met and exceeded my expectations. And it wasn’t even the big things that were the most memorable or the most rewarding, it was sitting on the tube for 3 hours a day, it was talking to my host mom on a lazy Saturday morning, and it was going to the grocery store down the block to get orange juice with ‘juicy bits’.
Going abroad taught me how to appreciate the little things as well as the big adventures. It also taught me that if you work hard and are extremely lucky, sometimes things turn out exactly how you want them to
My semester abroad in France was probably one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had. It was my first time in Europe and so getting to see classic sights like the Eiffel Tower, the London Eye, and the Roman Colosseum was surreal for me. All of the traveling I did was amazing, but really just living in Angers (a small city about 2.5 hours south of Paris) and experiencing the French way of life was one of the best parts of the semester. I loved immersing myself into the french language and culture and would go back in a heartbeat.
(The picture is me at the Maison Carrée in Nîmes, France)