“Its a small world after all…” these are familiar words that we all know and that have often rang through my ears throughout the past several years of my life. After moving back to the United States only the year before, our summer vacation to Duluth, Minnesota was a welcome opportunity to see old friends and visit a new place. We had lived in Belgium previously for almost five years and had become great friends with the Klang family while living there. With five people in our family and six in theirs, we had had some great adventures and couldn’t wait to have some more!
Although my family is American, coming back to the U.S. after living overseas was definitely a culture shock, completely different than the life we had lead in Europe, but seeing the Klangs’ was like coming home, being surrounded by a surrogate family of sorts. Not only did we share a common past and memories together; we also shared a common future of beginning again in the United States. We began our trip by staying in a lake cabin owned by the Klang family. We spent our days relaxing, boating, tubing and camping out by the many lakes Minnesota has to offer. We also visited many local and charming attractions that we would have never expected or found otherwise in the land of 10,000 lakes. We visited local restaurants and shops offering “only in Minnesota” knick-knacks, the annual event of “Bean Hole Days” celebrating the Scandinavian heritage and tradition of cooking beans underground in huge vats started by their ancestors who had settled there, as well as the beautifully frigid Lake Superior. It was when we were all hiking along the ridges above Lake Superior that it hit me. We were taking pictures, acting goofy together and exploring when I realized that the striking landscape around us was not what made this trip so special, it was the people right in front of me. Sharing new experiences and reveling in our past ones with old friends was enough to make me feel that I had nothing to fear about the new place we lived or the beginning of our new lives here. All I had to do was remember that “it’s a small world after all” and that no matter the time or distance between friends, they will always be there waiting for you when you return.
While many travelers may believe that when visiting a place, the most important thing to do is see all the tourist attractions, what everyone expects out of a travel destination. I encourage all travelers (of every age) to not only see what you may expect, but to go outside your usual and explore a new place with fresh eyes and an open mind and heart. Seeing Minnesota, and our new life, from a loving and hopeful perspective, rather than from my naÃ¯ve and fearful eyes was breath taking and made my journey every bit more memorable.
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