I’ve been sitting here for almost an hour writing, deleting, and rewriting just the first sentence of this post. It seems nearly impossible to put my experience into words, but I am going to do my best.
My time in Slovenia was life changing. I laughed. I cried. I learned to love. I tried new things. I accomplished goals. I made life-changing relationships. I would do it again in a heart beat, and since being home there have been several times where that is all I want to do.
I loved my time abroad, not because I wanted to be away from home, but because of who I have become from my experiences while I was gone. In the time I was gone I visited eight countries and lived in two, and the most important thing that I learned from all of it was that I have culture too.
I grew up in a small, conservative town. Everyone in my family going back for generations on both sides are Caucasian. We enjoy family time, camping, card games, eating good food, and finding good deals while shopping. Since I was a little girl I have wanted to travel the world because quite frankly, I didn’t think that I had much of a culture and what little culture I did have was boring.
So, finally, 2018 was my year. At the age of 24, I was going to experience r e a l culture. I left in February to study abroad in Slovenia, and in June went directly to India for an internship.
I forgot to pack a hat in Iceland.
I ate the best gelato imaginable in Italy.
I fell in love in Slovenia.
I sketched in Austria.
I ate delicious halusky in Slovakia.
I stood in awe of the Parliament building in Hungary.
I explored the catacombs in Serbia.
I rode a bike in Denmark.
I swam in the sea in Croatia.
I ate with my hands in India.
It is impossible to describe everything I experienced in these countries. It was incredible, but now I’m home. Back to a small, conservative town that I used to think had no culture. But guess what? I was completely wrong.
I have a culture that is completely different than every one I experienced, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a culture. Out of the 10 countries I have now been to, none of them were the same. Each one had something a bit different whether it was the food, the currency, the language there was always something unique.
So now I am learning to notice and appreciate my culture, and I think that by doing that I will be better equipped to appreciate other cultures. I think that traveling isn’t really about going and seeing other places, but it is a way to teach each of us to appreciate what we have. We are all unique and a bit odd, but that’s what makes us great.
Traveling taught me that our cultures are all very different, but most importantly, we’re all human. And it is that similarity that bonds us together.
Cultures will differ, but humans are humans. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, how you eat your food, or what you wear. We all need companionship and acceptance. So where ever you may be reading this, take a look around and remember that we’re all trying our best in the way that we know how to. So let’s just smile and appreciate the differences, because they really don’t matter.