October 27, 2016

Thank You Europe

I thought a lot about how I was going to end my travel posts relating to my trip to Europe, and I knew that it would only be appropriate to write a final post thanking Europe for hands down one of the best months of my life. They aren't lying when they say that travel changes you and teaches you things that you otherwise may not have ever learned. After traveling for a month I can say first hand that I am not the same person I was on August 31st, I am forever changed by this trip, but in the absolute best possible ways.

Throughout the trip, I journaled about every destination I had explored and experienced, so that I will forever be able to look back on my adventure and smile. Bringing a journal, and actually journaling along the way, was one of the best things I did and I am so happy I did it. The journal and all the memories in it is something I will cherish for the rest of my life. I think one of my favorite entries was the one I wrote on the plane during my trip back home from Madrid to New York as it captures so authentically all of the feelings and emotions I felt heading home after a month away. I decided that my final blog post about Europe would be that journal entry I wrote somewhere way above the Atlantic on October 1st. I hope you enjoy it, but more importantly I really do hope it inspires you to go out there and see the world!


Here I am, thirty days later - I can officially say I made it! I am in disbelief that is is already over and it is oh so bittersweet to write the final chapter of this journey. As I sit here, somewhere over the Atlantic, and reflect on the past month, I can't help but feel a rush of overwhelming emotions. I am of course sad - goodbyes and endings have never been something I've enjoyed (at all), and the goodbyes are that much harder when you've met some of the most incredible people and had the adventure of a lifetime. I will miss every person and each and every moment dearly, but I will hold them close to my heart. I would be lying if I wasn't a little bit excited to be heading home (just a little). I cannot wait to see my family and friends and share the stories and memories I have collected over the past thirty days. I can only hope that I can spark the adventurous spirit and curiosity to explore the world in some of them. If I can inspire anyone to step out of their comfort zone and go see the word, I will be very happy. I am of course looking forward to the comforts of home and the United States - I promise you learn to appreciate the little things you've grown accustomed to when you no longer have them.

Gratitude however is by far the emotion I feel the most. I could not be more thankful for the experience I had - it was more than I could have imagined, dreamed, or expected it to be. I don't even know how to express to the world how grateful I am to have been able to see it's beauty, or to have been submerged in cultures different than my own. My eyes have been opened to so many different things that have forever left a mark on me in the most positive way, and I am forever grateful. I can't even begin to explain how much I have learned and how much knowledge I have acquired, in what truthfully has not been that much time. I have learned more about history, culture, language, customs,  and people in the past thirty days than I ever could have from a textbook. Being thrown into the world is the ultimate way to learn.

As grateful as I am for all of the knowledge I have acquired, I am even more thankful for the lessons I have learned and for what I have learned about myself. When I think about it now, the decision I made to book this trip to multiple foreign countries, all by myself, for thirty days, sounds a bit crazy. But after having completed the journey, I've realized crazy might just be a synonym for brave. I'm honestly not sure I know a lot of people who would have been brave enough to do it, and I am extremely proud of myself for that. I have also learned not only about how independent of a woman I am, but also how important it is to be independent. There were so many times that I would explore on my own, and it was so empowering to go out there and see the world all alone. I was taught the beauty (and again importance) of eating by yourself. I highly recommend giving it a try sometime, you just might pleasantly surprise yourself. Because of this trip I feel like I could wake up tomorrow, pick a destination, buy a plane ticket, and just go. All alone. It is a wonderful feeling knowing you don't need anyone else to see the world.

At the same time, however, I have learned the beauty of sharing experiences with other people and meeting new people. Thirty days ago I met 39 other people, all of which were strangers at the time. Here I am one month later with not only new friends, but new travel companions who I plan on keeping in touch with for years to come. It's amazing how in such a short amount of time strangers become people you feel like you've known your entire life. I am so blessed to have had them to share such an incredible journey with and countless memories. The universe always brings the right people into your life, even if it is just for a short amount of time. I can't forget to mention also the strangers met along the way. There were so many instances over the past month where I talked to strangers, whether other travelers or locals, who really touched me. Our encounters were always short but talking with them and sharing experiences or bonding over travel made for some special moments that I will always remember.

I learned the power of just saying yes. Yes to new people, places, foods, experiences. There was not one time I said yes to something that I ended up regretting. Just the opposite happened actually - I always ended up being pleasantly surprised or loving it more than I could have imagined. This is a lesson I learned traveling, but by no means does it only apply then. If you say yes to new experiences and things in your day to day life, I'm sure positive things will happen.

I think I could keep writing for days, but my flight is about to touchdown in New York, so I will wrap it up here. In the words of my most wonderful tour director, Elena, "We travel to get lost and to find ourselves." It was a line that she said the very first day, the very last day, and everywhere in between. It is a simple sentence that will forever have a place in my heart. Travel might be the best way to find ourselves, and finding yourself by no means implies you were lost to begin with. To me it means to grow as a person, to discover yourself, and keep working on becoming the best, most true version of yourself. I promise you that in getting "lost" and exploring new places, you will change - in the best possible way. I am not the same person I was a month ago, and I am forever grateful for that.

I promise that this is by no means the end of my travels, but only the beginning. If I ever thought that a month in Europe would quench my desire to travel, I couldn't have been more wrong. The wanderlust is at an all time high and I cannot wait to see what else there is to explore. I will be dreaming up my next adventure but until then, stay beautiful world. I cannot wait to see you again.

xo. G

Thank you all again SO much for following along! It means the absolute world to me and I can only hope you have enjoyed and been inspired by my trip to Europe. In case you missed it (or are looking for a little bit of inspiration!) I have linked all my blog posts from Europe below!

French Riviera

I also cannot thank EF College Break enough for an all around amazing experience!

xo. G

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