Girl on Fire: Pack it up and travel

[As seen in Creston News Advertiser, March 5, 2015]

It’s been four years since I flew on a plane over the Atlantic Ocean, the deep blue water miles below me, and landed back in the Midwest after a six-month stint in England.

Ever since then, I have had a feeling nagging at me to pack up and travel the world.

In between taking British literature and creative writing classes at Lancaster University, located several hours north of London by train, I took several day and overnight trips across the country, such as to York and Bath.

Then, during Easter break and finals month, I had the opportunity to travel Ireland, France, Scotland and Italy, even getting to see my parents and sister for a week.

Four years is a long time for me to go without really experiencing a new place. I came to Creston in November 2012, but to me, the town is very similar to the one I’d left.

Now, my goal is to travel. I don’t have plans yet, but there are so many places in the world I’ve always wanted to visit. Australia, Romania, India, each country offers so many cultural experiences I want to have.

Living in a different country for six months really opened my eyes to the possibilities out there for everyone. I found the exchange program through the website for University of Iowa, located in Iowa City, and decided one day to just go and get more information, find out where I would want to go most and why. I looked at Italy and Ireland, as well as England, until I decided the most financially advantageous place would be England through an exchange program, which meant tuition was still paid to Iowa, and room and board was paid to Lancaster.

According to United States Office of Travel and Tourism Industries’ website, more than 30 million Americans traveled overseas in 2014, which is up by more than 1.5 million people in 2013.

That’s my advice: just go. Just do some research, find the best possible place that fits you and your goals and just travel. I’ve done my own research already and discovered several places like New Zealand and Australia offer year-long work and holiday visas for anyone younger than 30. I believe in general, European countries allow you to stay several months at a time, but you have to leave the country in between.

I know, soon, I’ll take my own advice, pack up and visit a destination that whirls in my mind as exotic and amazing. Of course, there are always the ifs, ands and buts when changes like this come into play, but sometimes that’s what makes the adventure fun.

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