Today’s post comes to you from the lovely Elle over at Veni Vidi Vici. I love this girls’ blog! She’s another bucket lister and has this awesome feature fairly regularly where she introduces other life listers to each other through interviews. Besides that, she’s done some really awesome things because of the goals she’s set up for herself, and I knew that I had to have her write a little something for me while I was gone!
Fun fact, in late July, one of her posts (about visiting the Grand Canyon) was featured on WordPress’ freshly pressed on the dashboard! If that doesn’t convince you how cool she is, I just don’t know what will. Perhaps this post? Enjoy!
At the age of sixteen, most high schoolers are begging their parents for cars. I, on the other hand, was begging my parents to send me on a trip to France and Spain with some of my classmates. Each year my high school sponsored a field trip for the AP Spanish and AP French students. From the moment I found out about it, I knew I had to go. I begged and pleaded with my mom and dad to allow me to go. They agreed to pay for half of my trip if I covered the other half. I immediately rushed out, got a job and started saving for my trip to Paris and Madrid.
My parents signed a waiver consenting to me being allowed to wander around the cities on my own, and also acknowledging the fact that I was of legal drinking age in Europe. During spring break of my junior year, I boarded a plane with 7 of my classmates and the French teacher and headed to across the pond.
Little did I know that this trip would change my life.
My school mates and I started drinking while we were still in the air. By the time we arrived in Paris, we were all extremely intoxicated. That morning, we were sticking with the French teacher to be shown the basic layout of the city. As we walked around the Latin Quarter, the sidewalk felt as if it was swaying below me. It was absolutely miserable. Our chaperone made us continue to walk off our alcohol as we continued to weave around the streets of Paris.
This was a minor casualty compared to the rest of my trip. Not only did I end up catching the flu while I was gone, but I was mugged and had money stolen from my suitcase. I also got lost on the Metro system , spent some time in the Parisian ghetto and got mocked for my lack of French speaking skills. Sounds like a week of hell, right?
In those 7 days, I learned more about myself than I did throughout all of my years in school. I learned that I was not the shy person that I once believed I was. I learned that I am a stellar navigator and I also learned that I am an independent person. I learned that I was incredibly naïve to the evils of the world. I learned that I had a lot of learning to do. I learned that the world had so much to offer and that I was missing out on it by staying idle.
I was able to see and experience some incredible things. While my friends sat on their couches watching TV, I listened to a choir sing in Notre Dame, and explored the majestic halls of Versailles. I watched flamenco dancers perform in Madrid and scoped out the medieval streets of Toledo. The week was magical.
A week like this would scare the crap out of most sixteen year olds. Not me. I just shook it off. It was official; I was bitten by the travel bug. The truth of the matter is these things could have happened to me anywhere. Life is what you make it and I chose to make these disasters into learning experiences.
When I returned home from that trip, I sat down and wrote a list of all of the things I wanted to do before I died. Since that day I have done so many incredible things. I have ridden horses in the Caribbean, climbed Mayan ruins. I have swam with both wild stingrays and sharks, I’ve traveled to some of my dream spots, I’ve climbed mountains and waterfalls, soared across jungle canopies and I’ve thrown a toga party. Some of the items on my list are ridiculously random where others are typical aspirations.
The truth is, I am 27 years old and I am just now realizing that I don’t share the stereotypical American dream. I want to see the world, one bucket list item at a time. Some of us were born nomads; I am one of those people.