In my twenty-two years it wouldn’t seem i’ve done too much traveling, and yet when I look back at my experiences i’ve seen quite a good amount of people, places, and things.
I grew up in a small affluent CT suburb, not the first place to go for diversity you could say. Darien CT is a patch of preppy east coast families, right on the outskirts of the biggest city in the nation; NYC. While the bustling city is only a train ride away, the water rests on the other side of the town allowing for gorgeous water front property and of course more “waspy” activities. I spent my childhood summers at our country club taking sailing lessons and was part of the swim team. It was the type of place where Lacrosse is bigger than football, and no one took school pride all too seriously. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized the unending possibilities of NYC, and fully utilized the 45 minute train ride we could take to reach this place. Plus I became an Avid YANKS fan.
Summers were spent visiting the home of Vineyard Vines and birthplace of the Jaws movie ( Martha’s Vineyard). Did I mention I had eight siblings to go on these adventures with? Well of a divorced home that is; my twins and I complete the triplets, two older brothers, and four half siblings to round out the bunch. Life was always a party.
In the winter my mom, a self made interior designer, would decorate our little cottege-esque house like an absolute fairytale! I mean christmas decorations out the wazoo, its something i’ll always remember and cherish. Connecticut is the type of place you get to chop down your own christmas tree and thats the way I loved it.
I don’t mean to paint Darien in a condescending manner, because it was the most wonderful bubble to grow up in, but thats what it was; a bubble. As thankful as I am to have grown up in such a fantastic location; with literally one of the greatest cities on earth at my fingertips, i‘m even more thankful I got out.
For college I got off the East Coast and delved into the land of the Mid-west. I don’t think I could have prepared myself truly for the culture shock that was Oxford , OH. What is corn-hole? College football? I’ve never heard of jimmy johns? Tie blankets? Buckeyes? The mid-west was a whole different culture, but I soon fell in love with the friendly atmosphere and caring people. It also didn’t hurt that Miami was one of the most gorgeous campus’s i’d ever seen! O-H? I-O! I was eating Bob Evans like a pro before I knew what was happening. Our campus was nestled in the middle of corn-fields, with only a strip of bars and a Walmart for entertainment. I was far away from NYC indeed!
Miami gave me a new perspective on how people could live and be; it sounds silly since I didn’t even travel that far, but I truly was opened up to a whole new life. Ohio may not be where I want to live in the future, but it was the perfect place for college-life. Greek life was huge on campus, with many social events and 18+ bars it was hard not to have too much fun. I made the best friends here and I know i’ll know them for a lifetime.
The summer after my freshman year I decided I would really take a leap of faith, all the way over to South Africa. I was going to volunteer at a Baboon Sanctuary * remember i’m was a pre-vet major* to get hands on experience with these amazing animals. I found the CARE program all on my own, it was not a school sponsored trip or study abroad program; I was flying completely solo.
No really I had to get on a plane, smuggling my last rabies vaccine in my bag , and fly across an ocean for the first time alone. If that was daunting enough my cell phone didn’t work during my stay, so i’m sure my parents had a heart attack for the first day or so before I contacted them. The center was located in Phalaborwa so I had to take one flight to Johannesburg, then a smaller tin can of a plane to Phalaborwa. When you say you are staying ‘ in the bush’ it means roughing it… extremely. We had a lodge to sleep in with running water, but you couldn’t drink it and it wasn’t always warm; i’m just thankful we had plumbing!
At sunrise we woke up to the sounds of baboons jumping up and down on the tin roof; screaming laughing and playing. Now recall that I went to Africa during the summer…which means it was winter in africa; and wow who knew it would get cold? The nights were freezing and often in the mornings I would be wearing snowpants and a rainjacket ( monkeys do tend to pee on you ) to stay warm and dry. It was the hardest and messiest work I had ever done; but by far the most rewarding. I hope to go back some day, the people I met changed me forever.
Life is a constant journey so you are learning no matter where you go; europe or not! I’ve been fortunate enough to have friends to visit in Chicago so I could attend the Lollapolooza music festival one summer.
I have been to California on a school trip and visited my grandparents in Florida a bunch of times! Seen both the city of columbus and cincy, best ohio has to offer dont you know? My siblings both went to college in TN so I could experience the ‘real’ South through visiting Nashville and Memphis! ( I learned the south is NOT for me!) Heck I’ve even traveled to South Carolina to visit family on occasion. Who says i’m not traveled?
Some wouldn’t consider me a world traveler, but I certainly have a good start. I’m still in desperate need to see the grand canyon, and travel to the pacific northwest! I plan on continuing to learn from every place I go , and every person I meet!