When you were in college you probably didn’t study abroad.
You may have known about the study abroad program but for some reason, you never made the attempt to even apply. You probably were too afraid to leave home for an extended period of time, didn’t feel comfortable with the idea of living in another country for months at a time or it may just be you didn’t have the money.
Now you look back with regret wishing you had taken the opportunity. But, those days are over and what’s done is done. Yet while you have never left the country and acquired that study abroad experience, the opportunity to travel still exists.
You simply have to make the decision to go. You have to be determined to travel the world, explore new places and live out your fantasies.
Believe me, I had some of the same fears as you when I traveled to Italy.
But I was determined to travel. I was determined to explore the world, see new places and meet new friends. And I’m glad I did because it changed my life and helped me experience the power of God in a miraculous way.
A whole new world
I landed in Rome, Italy on a Saturday afternoon not knowing anyone. I was by myself. And after about 30 minutes wandering the airport, I eventually found the driver who would take me to my homestay.
As we were driving I began to observe the cars, people, businesses, and buildings and quickly realized, I’m definitely not in Philly anymore. I wasn’t dreaming, I was actually in Italy.
For the first time in my life, I was fully immersing myself in a different culture which could only have happened because I traveled.
One of the most beautiful things about venturing to another part of the world is the exposure to a different culture. It helps you to see the world differently. It helps you see the world from the lens of the people from a different country.
Being in a land foreign from yours makes you empathetic to the life of someone totally different than you. You are able to understand their way of living. You can see their hopes, dreams and experience their values. When you travel you don’t just become a tourist you become a local.
When you travel you also get to see the behaviors of the people within a certain country.
During my time in Italy I had noticed that Italians don’t move the same way we do in America. There is no rush to go to work or hurry to get from place to place. The sense of urgency to get from one place to the next doesn’t exist because more than anything they value piece of mind.
Italians are relaxed, easy-going people.
They would much rather waste away hours spending time with the people the care about than spending tireless hours taking on various projects within the organizations they are involved with.
I would never have experienced this through a textbook. A pamphlet on Rome would not have gave me a first hand experience of Italian living. Even photographs couldn’t have done the Colosseum the same justice as physically walking on the same ground that the fearless gladiators did.I wouldn’t have entered the residence of the Pope watching a video on YouTube.
Only by traveling to Italy could I have entered Vatican City and roam through St. Peter’s basilica. Only by overcoming my fear of getting on a plane and being away from home was I able to visit the Duomo in Milan or capture amazing views of Florence from Pizzale Michelangelo.
Because I chose to travel I found favorite destinations for future vacation spots. Being in Italy changed my life because it made me hungrier for travel. It made me desire success even more so that I can visit places that again, and again, and again.
The beauty of God’s creation
Have you ever looked at something in nature and thought to yourself, “Wow, this is amazing! This is beautiful”.
Well, this happened to me several times in my travels throughout Italy. While there I was able to get a small glimpse of what God has created. Even in cloudy weather, I was still taken away by the hilltop views of the Fiume Tevere river weaving through Todi.
When you see God’s creation it’s hard to believe that he could make it all in six day. But maybe that explains why he rested on the 7th.
I mean, if I expended all that creative energy within a week I would need a day’s worth of rest as well (maybe two). Thank God I wasn’t tasked to do this. I only got the reward of experiencing it all.
And to see it was so surreal.
I never thought in a million years I would be on top of a mountain looking down on the colorful homes of Amalfi Coast or swimming in the clear blue waters of Positano.
I mean I’ve seen them in pictures but never did I think I would experience them for myself one day.
Looking back it’s almost as if lived out a fantasy. As if I had flown into another dimension and ended up in on a queen-sized bed, a room to myself and free home-cooked Italian meals every night. Like I had closed my eyes and been transported to a mountain top only to inhale breathtaking views of Lake Garda as the sunset.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t that easy.
The truth is I took a cable car past the fall trees to reach the top of that mountain. The truth is I had to overcome the fear of flying on an airplane to get there. The truth is I had to be brave enough to leave the comfort of home to explore a new world and witness God’s creation. The truth is I prayed for this.
For some of you, the truth is much different. For some of you, the truth is you didn’t study abroad and have this experience. But for all you, your truth doesn’t have to be that you never traveled because it still isn’t too late for you to travel and explore God’s creation.
Life long friends
It’s expected to meet new people everywhere we go. What’s not expected is a bond we may have with the people meet.
I went to Italy alone. Yet, I didn’t come back the same way. I came back with a mind full of memories, pocket full of euros, leather goods, and a phone filled with friends I never thought I’d have.
I learned from them and they learned from me. We ate together, laughed together, traveled together and have fun together.
We held deep conversations and shared our frustrations.
The people I met and friends I made helped me see people differently. They helped me to understand their culture. They helped me to realize that even though we may be from different countries that we still are the same and that we all want the same things.
While being in Italy I learned that the destination is only as good as the people there. I learned that what makes an experience worthwhile doesn’t depend on where you spend it but who you spend it with.
And for me, I couldn’t have asked for better people to share these experiences with.
Most of us don’t take the opportunity to travel because of fear. Fear of flying, fear of unsafe conditions in a foreign country, fear of being away from home, or fear or not having enough money.
But that fear is holding you back. That fear is keeping you from exploring the world, from amazing friends, and awesome experiences, That fear is preventing you from living out your dreams.
You can’t let that fear keep a hold on you anymore. You must be brave. You must be courageous.
There’s whole other world out there waiting for you to see it but you have to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Step out of your comfort zone and explore a world miles away. Pray and asked God to make it possible for you to venture to a faraway land
Travel and see God’s creation. Make new friends, form bonds, and relationships that will last a lifetime. A picture is worth 1,000 words but the experience makes for endless conversations.
Go and travel.