Whimsical Weekends: Abroad Series Part 1

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It’s incredible to believe that two years ago today I submitted my application to study abroad in Barcelona for the Spring 2014 semester. Actually, I submitted two applications- to Rome and Barcelona- and had no idea as to whether I would actually be leaving Cal for a whole six months. However, through a difficult decision making process and a long series of goodbyes to my graduating friends and my second home, I began my journey into quite possibly the quickest six and a half months of my life in Europe.

So, in honor of all my friends beginning their journeys to wherever their study abroad applications permit them to travel (and some raging nostalgia that has me looking through all of my old photos), I have compiled three quotes form my previous study abroad blog in order to relive my own study abroad experience and convince all my younger friends to study abroad as well.

There will be three different postings with three different quotes, each pasted as written on the original blog, along with its month and location in which it was written, and a short response to these beautiful moments…

On our way back, we stopped at this adorable little cove and dipped our feet in the water, took some pictures, and appreciated our time abroad. We all had our backpacks on us too, so it was also nice to sit and take a break. There’s something so liberating about just having a backpack and just exploring. Its like the whole world is out there and you have everything you need, so you can just go new places any time you want. I’m definitely starting to catch the travel bug. It’s like every time I go somewhere, even if its just a small weekend trip or a day trip, I literally want to grab a backpack and just keep exploring the unknown. It’s almost like the less you know about your upcoming trip the more exciting it becomes. Spontaneous trips like these are definitely my favorite

– January 2014, Cadaqués, Catalunya, España

This was actually the first weekend trip that I took with friends from my program to explore the unknown. After two other girls from our program went to this tiny beautiful, Costa Brava town of Cadaqués, my friends and I decided that we too would want to experience this little piece of paradise.

While this town is famous for its pristine beaches and clear Mediterranean water, we experienced it in January when the wind chill dropped the temperature below 40 degrees at night. Yet, regardless of the frigid weather, the short weekend trip was quite life-changing. It was my first time taking a train and bus to a new city in Spain, knowing nothing about the destination.

There’s something unexplainable about the anticipation of awaiting a new arrival, the thrill of the unknown that makes traveling so unique, and the fear that maybe taking a bus through a windy mountain road wasn’t the greatest idea.

And even more thrilling, knowing that everything that I would need would be in a small bag on my back. A bag that would stay with me when we scrambled through the rocky coast, skipped pebbles off the water, walked past white-washed building and cobblestoned streets to watch the sunset from the city’s main church, or decided to dip our toes into the freezing, but clear, blue sea. I realized that I really didn’t need much to experience something magical, and in reality, traveling light is the best way to feel free and unrestricted.

It’s actually quite funny because when people ask me what my plan is for after graduation this May, I always tell people that I want to feel this free again- free to travel, free to explore, and free to do what my heart desires. In the era of student loans and the race to get the highest paying job among your LinkedIn friends, its quote shocking to many people that I actually want to live a job paycheck to paycheck without any type of stability.

But to me, this answer is simple- it’s what I know that I need to do.

So here’s my challenge to you: Live your life with your head and your heart. Live the life you know that you desire and don’t let anything hold you back.

In college, it’s very common will tell you to major in something that will get you a high-paying job, to only do activities that will boost your professional resume, and only connect with people in the highest places. I’m here to tell you to listen to them a little bit, but don’t be afraid to forge your own path and do what makes you happy.

Take some time off to explore the world- whether that means the city across the bay, your neighborhood, or a brand new continent. Try new things and do a little bit of risk taking. Go on that spontaneous weekend adventure, lose a lot of sleep, and study late into the night for that exam on Monday. Yes you need to prepare for life after college, but you also need to prepare yourself for life. And happiness and self-care makes life a lot more fun.

And I promise, in whatever you do or plan to do with your life after graduation, you’ll always cherish the moments when you’re a little bit scared and a little bit uncertain as to where the day will take you. It will be challenging, but it will be rewarding, and that’s what life is all about.

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