“The world is a book and those who do not travel only read one page” (St. Augustine). Indeed, traveling abroad allows one to dust off the timeworn cover and gain the wisdom hidden throughout the world. My family has instilled this value upon me, so much so that this summer we took a month long trip to Europe, during which I gained incredible knowledge of how best to get around and communicate with various cultures. Most of all, it was the experience of a lifetime and made me realize how important traveling and broadening your awareness of others can help strengthen your self-knowledge.
My family and I began our experience by staying in quaint Avignon, France. During this time we soaked in the lush culture and rich history of this small town, with the Pope’s palaces and Roman ruins, as well as investigating neighboring towns. From Avignon we explored beautiful towns, castles, and abbeys, such as Gordes, Tarascon Castle, Senanque Abbey, Villeneuve Jardine, Beaucaire Castle. Next we traveled to the ancient city of Carcassonne, staying just outside of it’s breathtaking medieval castle. Through these first days abroad we became enthralled with the elaborate and unnecessarily beautiful architecture, savory food, and their preferred method of transportation, their feet-which we adapted. Experiencing life this way we became more immersed in the diverse culture surrounding us.
We also traveled through Spain, similarly to France we did as much sightseeing as possible; acquainting ourselves with towns such as Zaragoza, Madrid, Toledo, Granada, Valencia, Barcelona, and San Jose. My family and I saw one-of-a-kind places such as: Alhambra, Gaudi’s Sagrada familia, Picasso museum, the Prado, Dali museum. It was interesting to me that much of the country was camped in streets and plazas protesting for a more democratic government, and after our initial alarmed reaction, we were able to see the significance behind this possibly historical event. My family and I were repeatedly astounded by the incredible architecture surrounding us, the amazing Mediterranean water we so desperately waited to swim in, and the unique culture; being able to experience all this first hand helped me become more aware and appreciative of the world around me, and has helped me recognized all the conveniences we overlook every day.
Following our exploration in Spain, my family returned to France to spend our remaining days touring Paris, however, since commuting throughout Paris is something out of horror story, we decided to stay in the nearby city of Versailles. My family concurs that Paris was the biggest highlight of our trip; we were able to experience the Museum de Orsay, Notre Dame, The Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, Palace of Versailles, as well as eating dinner inside the Eiffel Tower. This section of our trip meant a lot to us, I believe we changed the most in these final days abroad, it put the trip and our return in perspective; we all realized how important it is to be open to any situation that comes our way.
As my family’s first trip abroad together, our month in Europe not only gave us memories of a lifetime and strengthened our family resolve, but was also instructive of how to better communicate with other languages, pros and cons of different lifestyles, and taught me a lot about myself. It was costly and lot of work for the entire family, but we enjoyed every second of it. Although returning home saw many changes, this trip has forced me to read beyond the first pages in the story of life, opening me up to all the pages of the world.
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