Growing up in a small town has its limitations, and for this single reason, even at a young age, I craved to see what was outside my small town in Michigan. I wanted to learn about and experience other countries and their cultures first hand; I wanted to go to all the places I had seen in movies and magazines – see all the views depicted in the books I had read. But never did I think going to Europe, when I was sixteen would change me so much.
While abroad, I was able to immerse myself completely in everything I did. With the help of my friends, Marissa, Kasey, and Paris, I – who became paralyzed in the face of heights – was going on gondola rides in Switzerland (although at first I had my hood up and was in the fetal position while Asking Alexandria was blasting in the background), climbing to the top of the Eiffel Tower, and even sitting on the walls of the Hohensalzburg Castle which overlooked Salzburg, Austria. I went to the Famous Hofbrauhaus and attended a Bohemian Disco while we stayed in the Swiss Alps; we entered the hotel down the street and were met by disco balls and strobe lights of every color, along with loud, and to us, strange yet intriguing music. We began to dance, or at least try, to the unfamiliar tunes. Soon the hall began to fill with traditional Indian dancers as we made our way to the sidelines mesmerized by the glorious dancers. We left that night bewildered.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
By being able to venture by ourselves and experience each city we visited on our own, I began to realize what my strengths were and what my capabilities were. I could find my way around a huge foreign city, ask for directions, and even order in French and German, things at first I didn’t know if I could do. Granted I have many great things to say about my trip abroad, there were some unforeseen yet common problems that my friends and I had faced.
For instance, when we arrived in Munich, we had a half an hour to freshen up and put our stuff away and Kasey decided to straighten her hair. So we put the converter in the outlet and plugged in her straightener, then out of nowhere the room went black and the TV shut off. We were so scared that we were going to get in trouble and charged for blowing the socket, but the hotel was used to and prepared for tourists to blow outlets. Another problem I didn’t expect was how much the subway would drain my spending money, the tickets for the subway were a few Euros per ticket which depleted my savings quickly.
Being able to get away for awhile and have fun; I became inspired. I discovered a lot of cathedrals, such as Westminster Abbey and Notre Dame, many of which took lifetimes to build. Instead of exhibits which held items of recent past, I went to museums that held artifacts and artwork from the Renaissance. Once I saw these things I was addicted: my desire to see the world was that much greater. And with that desire came a realization that I would have to go to college and pursue a good career to be able to travel. Europe has had a magnificent impact on my life – it helped give me a drive to do well in school, discover myself and my goals in life, and helped me to realize my love of traveling and seeing new places.
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