This I Believe

Rachel - Southbury, Connecticut
Entered on September 6, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I believe that traveling is essential to life. It allows you to be introduced to remote cultures and ideas. It can symbolize the start of a new beginning, or it may be a celebration of a life accomplishment.

This belief of mine was planted in my head when I was eleven. Of course, social studies class had always peaked my interest throughout elementary school, but it was in fifth grade that this interest transformed into utter fascination. My family took a trip to Walt Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida. However, instead of spinning around in teacups at the Magic Kingdom or zooming through galaxies on Space Mountain, I wanted to dine in Italy and gaze in wonder over how the Chinese acrobats climbed so high. It was the Epcot World Showcase that officially launched my interest in travel.

Years passed after that visit, including two more trips to Epcot, and finally my chance for travel outside of the United States arose. I joined a Study Abroad program my junior year of college. The destination was Florence, Italy. A passport and two colossal-sized suitcases later, I arrived in Europe and moved into an apartment equipped with an American roommate; an Italian mother and daughter; and a dog named Neve.

Over a four-month period, I traveled throughout Italy and visited cities in six other countries. Aside from the physical beauty that Europe has to offer, the greatest souvenir I received from my trip was independence and free spirit. Finding a hotel in Budapest while knowing only a handful of Hungarian words was both a challenge and an adventure. The natural inclination to wander around without any specific destination was what I loved best about visiting foreign ground.

Traveling taught me many skills that I brought back with me to the States. Italians taught me that art is everywhere. Spain taught me to be laidback and enjoy life. England taught me how to budget. I have come back with a better appreciation for fine dining, thanks to France. Most importantly, I came back with what Disneyworld cannot provide with attractions and animatronics. I returned home knowing that my boundaries are limitless, and wherever I choose to live after I graduate will not be an unsolvable mystery.