King Henry VIII Palace
Tower of London

Travelling lets us explore. It lets us see other parts of the world and how others’ ways of living differ from our own. For me, it was a life-changing experience. I was 15, and straight out of my freshman year of high school. I was still coming into my own, and still a bit intimidated by the world.  This was my second time travelling abroad with The People to People Ambassador Programs; I had been to Australia the summer before eighth grade, but I was much too young to truly appreciate it. This time, I had not only went to another continent, but I went to seven countries instead of one.

QUARTER-FINALIST 2015 FTF TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP

When I first landed in Europe, I was incredibly alert. We had landed in England, and I was expecting some huge culture shock. Maybe to see members of the British army in red suits, riding around on horses, but everything looked the same as the United States did. There were diverse people, but nothing that I wouldn’t see back at home, and I was so thankful that there was no language barrier. When we got out of the airport, we hit the ground running. We immediately went to a palace of King Henry VIII. It was breathtaking. I had never seen anything so exquisite before (aside from the Palace of Versailles). The next day we went to The Tower of London. My phone picked up a wireless signal while we were there and I was able to text my mom. When she asked me where I told her that we were “at some palace of King Henry.” One of my friends corrected me, but I just laughed and said “who cares?”

As I made my way to the hotel room that night, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I had been given the opportunity of a lifetime and I couldn’t even tell the difference between possibly the most known estates in England. I didn’t even care that each had their own significance in the country’s history and at the time, I most certainly didn’t care to recognize their differences. I did my research, looked through pictures, and told myself that I would not do that again for the rest of the trip. The next day, I woke up with a much more positive attitude, and even researched my locations ahead of time d=so that I could ask legitimate questions about what I was seeing.

I couldn’t help but think of all the other teenagers who were aimlessly roaming around countries looking at the most historic and significant buildings, landmarks, and documents and not caring to learn the difference between them.  How is it that we have evolved into a species that no longer enjoys to learn about the history and culture of other parts of the world? I decided that I would not be one of those people. Looking back now, I’m glad I was so ignorant and clueless because it cause  it caused me to appreciate what I was seeing more, and it sparked a genuine interest towards what I was be touring. However, it did sit with me for a while.

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