An Amateur Wanderlust - My Family Travels

I had never left the country without my parents. I live minutes away from the Mexican border yet I've never crossed it. The last intercontinental voyage I embarked on was to the Philippines with my mom when I was two. But I was sixteen, and I was headed for London with my tour group of classmates and my math teacher. I was going to spend the next two weeks traveling through England, France, and Spain.
On the plane ride, all I could think about were the cities I was going to be in: London, Paris, Barcelona, and Madrid. Questions raced through my mind like jets in an air show.


But the most trivial was, "How different will they be from San Diego?" Veteran travelers had told me that Europe is completely different from the US, so I was expecting these foreign countries to be exactly that – foreign. Needless to say, I was appalled by how much Europe reminded me of home.
The first day in London, my tour group and I were on the "tube" when we overheard a group of English teenagers. My friends and I couldn't help but listen in on the aliens, and despite their incomprehensible accents, we were able to make out the line, "She doesn't even go here!" My friends and I were awestricken to hear the Mean Girls quote that is ubiquitous in every American high school, and that's when I realized it – all those things I was told about these "foreign" countries were false.
Realizing the sameness of these English teenagers and American teenagers helped me realize I'm no different from them. It helped me realize I was living my life inside a bubble; so ignorant of cultures other than my own. I thought that although these cultures were beautiful, the people there were almost freakish. But I realized that these cultures were neither freakish nor foreign at all. The 17-year-old bubble had finally popped. I wasn't a senior at Eastlake High anymore. I wasn't a Californian anymore. I wasn't even an American. I was simply another passenger on a subway, contributing to the bustle.
This subway ride taught me to be more accepting, regardless if things seem foreign; to not be so quick to judge. I use this skill today in the campus-renowned room 804, commonly known as "the yearbook room". To me, this is home. When I see my yearbook staff stress out on a deadline, instead of getting upset that these slackers procrastinated to write a couple paragraphs while I tirelessly created hundreds of layouts, I see things more empathetically. I'm now able to shove my anger aside and realize that sometimes I, much like them, need a kick in the butt. This London subway ride taught me that although I am their Editor-in-Chief, at the end of the day, I am, above all, their equal and we are all the same.
I still had three cities to go.


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