Life without borders

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In two weeks, I leave for an anticipated challenging adventure to India. My heart has been anxiously pursing something to stay passionate about, and that kept me close to my wanderlust and love for people.

As I join a group of diverse people from different ages and backgrounds, we share a common mission in putting love into action. Love is powerful and poverty is something foreign to most of us living in a place where we can access clean water and a toilet when we want. India has been on my heart for years and I am trying to prepare my heart with little expectations.

This short, two week (yet rewarding) opportunity allows me to grow in my faith in humanity, learn from a different culture than my own, while being open to what India can teach me about life. I don’t pretend I know what it is like to live in poverty, but I am grateful for the opportunity to connect with new friends in India. My hope is to be fully engaged and revealing kindness in action, without hesitation or fear. I don’t think you need to fly across the world in order to practice this, but I believe God is creative and values our willingness to explore His world.

Preparing for this adventure takes patience and consistent reflection. However, I have come to realize that we can only prepare ourselves so much for adventures; part of the experience is learning how to respond when challenges arise, and how to trust that things will turn out just as they should.

What would your life look like without borders?

Up on the rooftop

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Can we talk about how gorgeous my friends are for a hot minute?

They’re my undercover models.

I’ve grown up with these gals and we’ve seen each other at our worst and at our best. No matter what happens or where life takes us, we still hold on to each other. And we’re always, always laughing.

P.S. after getting into trouble for our shanahanigans on the rooftop, our next move included splitting a pitcher of margaritas and tacos for happy hour and planning our next adventure.

Impulsive dreaming

“It’s ok to be sleepless and restless.Late nights and early mornings are worth it.It’s ok to let a dream consume you.To breathe it, eat it, drink it, make love to it, let it seep in, permeate through your pores, pulse through your veins, rise the hair up on your skin, bounce from cell to cell and let it radiate from the very core of you.I feel we have to dream a dream that way, otherwise it’ll only be just a dream.”-Satori

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My impulsiveness loves that life is always the biggest adventure if we want it to be.

Celebrating life

I’m a big believer in honest introspection and learning from the string of moments that make up our lives. My friends call it real talk, so let’s get real. 

Here’s a look into what I’ve learned, and am still learning  in my own life:

1. You are incredibly powerful and capable, stay passionate.

2. Soak up experience. There’s no rules how to live.

3.  Travel is one of the most rewarding gifts you can give yourself.

4. Loving someone means accepting and celebrating everything about them.

5. Don’t be apologetic about your faith.

6. Nothing is worth sacrificing your own joy.

7.  Take care of yourself-mind, body, & spirit.

8. Don’t underestimate what you can accomplish in one day.

9. Confidence in your own individuality is straight up sexy.

10. Make an intentional effort to strengthen your friendships.

11. Don’t underestimate the power of eye contact.

12. Reading is an easy form of knowledge and perspective.

13. Fall in love with yourself. You’ll realize how freeing it is.

14. Be dependable, keep your word…people appreciate that.

15. There is beauty everywhere and in everyone.

16. Learning how to love again is just as incredible as falling in love for the first time.

17. There’s no such thing as strangers, we all have to start somewhere. Be friendly towards everyone.

18. Be in tune with your aspirations and future goals.

19. Challenge yourself often; learning never really ends.

20. Your vulnerability unfolds into courageous beauty.

21. Stop waiting/complaining for something to happen, make things happen.

22. Liberate your mind. There’s nothing sexy about hatred or close-mindedness.

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My heart aches to live with intention

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Morocco Feb 2012/ Photo credit: Stephen Doyle

The most powerful thing travel taught me was how to live.

The memories you create, the people you meet, the things you see.

It changes you. Inspires you.

For the past few months, I’ve felt like a storyteller. Now, I want to take serious action to serve others.

Action on a global, tangible scale.

While researching humanitarian organizations to collaborate with, I came across charity: water. Their mission is simple yet groundbreaking: bring clean water to those who desperately need it. We take water for granted, but it’s the most basic, deserving daily need. The integrity and authentic enthusiasm of this nonprofit is what caught my eye. Immediately, I thought to myself: wow… I want to work with people like this. People that share the same passion to serve others, because we understand that taking action and giving love brings life meaning. This is what life is about. To be blunt, my goal is to work with a passionate, creative group of people who actively seek living life with intention and courage.

I want to share this because this is what’s on my heart and I know the world isn’t so big after all. Life is sometimes a series of actions, and I choose to make my dreams happen.

“I learned from a very young age that if I pursued the things that truly excited me, that they would reward in more important ways, like happiness.”

What adventure do you choose?

 

Doors leading to Europe

Venezia, Italia
Venezia, Italia
Marrakech, Morocco
(Africa) Marrakech, Morocco
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Stockholm, Sweden
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague, Czech Republic
Paris, France
Paris, France
Cortona, Italia
Cortona, Italia
Futog, Serbia
Futog, Serbia
Venezia, Italia
Venezia, Italia
Córdoba, España,
Córdoba, España
Roma, Italia
Roma, Italia
Morocco [Sammi]
(Africa) Marrakech, Morocco [Sammi]
Espana
Ronda, España
Rastina, Serbia
Rastina, Serbia
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Budapest, Hungary
Capri, Italia
Capri, Italia
Sevilla, Espana
Sevilla, Espana [with Tamara]
Futog, Serbia
Futog, Serbia
Perugia, Italia
Perugia, Italia

A door can symbolize openness–an opportunity and freedom to explore for those curious enough.

I was fixated on distinguishing the variations of doors while I was traveling. There was just something about admiring them that spoke to me about what it means to discover a culture. Was the door open? Who was leaving and where were they off to? What color stood out the most? How tarnished did it appear?

I was smitten by discovering the stories behind these doors.

Months before I left for Europe, I was anxiously applying for scholarships to study abroad and was reminded of this quote: “when one door closes, another one opens”. This rang true when I did not receive the travel scholarship I so desperately wanted. Fortunately, I had the incredible opportunity and honor to become a global ambassador. I wanted to inspire students just like myself to travel with me, even if was just through a computer screen. If I could leave you with any advice, hear this: stop making excuses–do yourself a favor and just buy the ticket already. It doesn’t have to be just a dream.

More about me as a Abroad 101 Global Ambassador here .

P.S. Do you gravitate towards something in particular too when you travel?

Wednesday’s wisdom: do it with passion

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Loving my new home for summer… beautiful San Francisco at dusk

“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds, your mind transcends limitations… and you find yourself in a new and wonderful world, dormant forces, facilities and talents come alive and you discover yourself to be a greater person than you ever dreamed.” -Patanjali

 

So friends, what inspires you?

5 things I learned from my first solo backpacking adventure

I should start by saying I never planned on backpacking. Like eating a whole bag of popcorn while watching a movie, it just… sort of happened.

It was a week before my semester was ending and it dawned on me that 1. I had no real travel plans (daydreaming of island hopping around Greece doesn’t count), and 2. consequently, I’d be homeless in Italy real soon. And I could tell you that by my first day of backpacking, I knew I was about to have the experience I’d been missing out on during my time studying abroad.

And to be honest, I learned more in the two weeks I backpacked on my own then the time I spent studying and living in Italy. It must be the beauty of getting completely out of my comfort zone and not having a friendly face to depend on for anything. Here’s my thoughts:

1. Less things scare me now. My family was pretty nervous for my safety (understandably) and I was anxious about how I would figure all the planning out. But after overcoming something that once seemed daunting, I gained a new perspective and confidence in what I can accomplish.

2. A simple life is always more beautiful. You don’t need most things, you just don’t. I learned to appreciate every little thing I could fit into my bag. Especially the travel size goodies that I held onto for months. I swear, it’s the simplest things.

3. Don’t let others dictate what you can and cannot do.  Just because traveling independently has its precautions, it doesn’t mean it can’t be done (and loved). I was surprised how passionate and comfortable I felt; the people I met during my adventure made my experience exceptionally memorable.

4. There’s no price on education. I want to learn and grow–and I guarantee that you can’t buy experiences that grab a hold of you and transform you from the inside out. I learned to react  to mistakes that fostered a new kind of patience and understanding that I hope will stay with me forever.

5. People have this innate gravitation towards others. Even if you’re not an extrovert, when you’re in an unfamiliar, thrilling situation like traveling independently, you naturally gravitate towards others. You want others to share that new experience with you. I can only explain it by illustrating it as a basic human need.

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A view of one of the waterfalls in Monachil. One of my favorite memories.
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Travelers from literally all over the world. All day Hiking in the Monachil village in Granada, Spain

Would you ever backpack on your own?

Perspective and studying abroad

“In wisdom gathered over time I have found that every experience is a form of exploration.”– Ansel Adams

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Lessons I want to remember, and welcome to the street of my apartment in Perugia!

I came across a post about “the reality of studying abroad”, and how a student believed that people intentionally try to glamorize their experiences on social networks, when in reality it’s just a façade and isn’t that special. I couldn’t help but think that studying abroad isn’t going to be what you want, if you don’t make it what you want. Always wanted to ______? Then go do it.

It’s an incredible opportunity— right in front of you.

An opportunity for you to decide how you’re going to spend your time and your money, depending on what you value and your priorities. I have no reason to judge anyones agendas for going abroad– hey, even if I didn’t know you, I’d probably think you’re awesome simply because you’re abroad. It shocked my friends when I said I’m 1 out of only 15 students that are abroad this semester from my college. A short conversation with a travel guide in Morocco resonated with me in particular. When I asked her if working for a student travel company, doing the same routes, to the same locations, ruined her passion for traveling, this is what she said:

“To be honest, no. I definitely need to take time for myself and travel on my own, but after coming home from studying abroad years ago, I realized that there’s still so much to see. And that’s what’s amazing.”

My professor in my cultural psychology internship is working on research about students changing after going abroad, and I don’t think it’s by accident that this happens.

Once we experience something exhilarating, something different, and we adapt to a culture, we learn how to embrace life in an entirely new way. 

I don’t believe we ever stop learning–searching for something that sparks our minds and warms our heart. That’s why I travel.