The Best Thing I Did While Traveling

Three years ago at this time, I was in Edinburgh, Scotland. Before that, I had visited London and, very briefly, Oxford. As international travel goes, it was a short trip, but it was also wonderful. I didn’t go all the touristy things the guidebooks say to, but I did spend a lot of time walking around the cities, and had the fortune of meeting people from the cities who showed me a side I wouldn’t have otherwise seen.


Edinburgh, Scotland


It’s cliche to say, but the trip really was life changing. I couldn’t be more grateful for having gone on it.

And while I took pictures (literally hundreds), what I’ve found to be even more valuable as I think back to my trip is a small black notebook I carried with me wherever I went. My phone didn’t work overseas, so I was devoid of my usual instant distraction. I found myself soaking in much more than I do on a regular day at home, which was partly due to being in another country, but also due to having set a goal for myself of filling that black notebook by the time I got home. I didn’t quite make it, but I did fill a lot of it.

It was not a perfect trip–at one point, I got sick and threw up into a plastic bag in a London tube station as a train load of people was getting off, and proceeded to spend the rest of that day in bed at the hostel–and there were other more standard traveling hiccups. But while I wouldn’t have taken pictures of those moments, I’m glad I wrote them down. At one point, I wrote:

I think it’s good that I waited so long to do this, too–with my affinity for writing that I’ve only somewhat recently truly realized, I feel like I’m able to appreciate things twice–the first time I’m more aware, because I’m already thinking about how I’m going to recount it in writing later. Graphically speaking, it’s like I get to regurgitate things onto paper later, in the best way possible.

Looking through the photos help me see one dimension of my trip, but reading that notebook fills in so much more. I don’t get to just see the sights, I get to read how I felt as I wandered around Edinburgh Castle, how quickly I fell in love with the oldness of the cities and how every building seems to tell a story, and remember the pride I felt when I successfully navigated my way through London all by myself. They are moments and memories no picture could contain in quite the same way.

I don’t know when I’ll get the chance to travel abroad again, but when I do, I’ll definitely be aiming to fill another little black notebook.

Til next time…


p.s. What’s the best thing you did while traveling?


Travel Lessons of a Recent College Graduate

A few days ago I returned from a trip I had been planning and looking forward to for months. It was…fantastic. Lovely. Wonderful. And all sorts of other positive adjectives.

I arrived in London and spent several days there, went to Oxford for a day, and ended with a few days in Edinburgh. I enjoyed myself immensely; it was amazing to see places with such history, buildings and landscapes with such beauty, to get just a glimpse of what life is like for people who live in a setting so different than mine. Cliche as it is, it was “an experience I’ll never forget.” I’ve already begun to share stories with my family and friends here, but I’m sure new ones will pop up and old ones will resurface for years to come.

Yet there was so much more to my trip than the buildings and sites I saw, the people I met and the pictures I took. All of those things were pieces, but they alone do not make up the whole. Because, as I am apt to do, while in the midst of my sightseeing and photo capturing, I was also learning. As a college graduate, I suppose that’s what I’m supposed to do: continue to observe and learn for the rest of my life.

So many times I have written about the way I struggle with change and uncertainty, how I like to have things planned out and find it frustrating to not know what’s ahead. This is still, at its core, true of me. But I think I’ve spent too much time telling myself that this is the way I am, allowing myself to buy into the idea that spontaneity and I cannot be friends, and that changes, even small ones, must be difficult. Largely due to these things, I approached my trip with a bit of trepidation, not exactly sure how I would handle things.

I learned that I do not always have to live up to my labels of “doesn’t handle change well,” “needs to be in control,” and “has to have a plan.”

When flying, I had no control over where the plane was going, or, as I experienced on my journey home, no control of when the plane would take off, which flights would be cancelled, and even, to an extent, how I would eventually get home. Much of the time throughout my trip I didn’t know what I would be having for my next meal, and it didn’t even bother me. There were shops, I had money; it would work out. I had a list of a few things I for sure wanted to see and do, most of which I got to, but other than that, I was fine with wandering around the city, seeing what would strike my (or my friend and traveling buddy’s) fancy. We stayed in a hostel in London and at my friend’s flat in Edinburgh. Hostels aren’t exactly the most glamorous of accommodations, but it worked out (mostly) fine.

Everything didn’t always go well. At one point I threw up at the South Kensington Tube station (which is actually quite a funny story). I didn’t get to check every single thing off my to-do list. My trip home took nearly 3 times as long as it should have.

Yet, I survived, and when someone asks me how my trip was, I can wholeheartedly say, “It was fantastic.” Even though I was on a continent I had never seen before, I had no control over many situations, and had no hint of a plan, it all worked out. And it was wonderful.

Til next time…


Adventures-To-Be of a Recent College Graduate

It’s been 2 weeks since I graduated from college, and in that time I have accomplished…well, not much. A clean desk, a few days of babysitting, a few small errands, but nothing as substantial as writing papers or taking exams, which is what I am used to. I’m still learning what it means to be “graduated.”

However, in these past 2 weeks of varying states of boredom, I’ve been looking forward to a grand adventure.


And Edinburgh.

I leave Sunday.

And I’m very, very excited.

A few months ago I bought my ticket, and though the number in my bank account fell significantly, it didn’t really feel real. Now, as my suitcase sits half-packed on my floor, my wallet now contains some British pounds, and my brand new passport is absolutely itching for its first stamps, it still doesn’t feel entirely real. Part of me is afraid that the whole thing will go by so quickly it’ll feel like it never even happened, and all I’ll have left is the pictures (of which I’m sure I’ll take loads).

But even if it does feel like it never happened at all, I can be thankful that, as my days of college dwindled, and I adjust to an odd mixture of old and new situations colliding, and I have fought to stave off boredom these past couple weeks, this trip has given me something to look forward to. The background on my phone has been a picture of Edinburgh for several months now, to remind me why I sometimes had to say to no to fast food or an impulse Meijer purchase. This trip has been my something to look forward to, a reward of sorts after 4 years of paper writing and Easy Mac. And very soon, I will finally get to enjoy my something to look forward to.

It’s important to have something to look forward to, to strive for and anticipate. Part of the fun is the excitement before the event actually happens, or imagining what things will be like with that new something in your life. Though the waiting may get old after a while, it has a pleasure all its own.

There’s a bit of trepidation mixed in with my excitement as well; I haven’t flown since I was in 1st grade, and now I’ll be navigating airports on my own, not to mention a train station in a county I’ve never set foot in, currency that feels strangely shaped, and dodging cars driving on the…well, not wrong, but unfamiliar side of the road. I have to remind the part of me that enjoys being in the know: this is an adventure. Adventure can be fun, exciting, and magical. So that is what I will choose to see.

For now, I sit in the thrill of anticipation. Next week, I frolic in adventure. =)

Til next time…