Whether you are young or old, I urge you to travel. With the few adventures I have had traveling to faraway places, I found a little bit more of myself and I suspect this happens to most people. My favorite adventure was as a wild and free 21 year old to Florence, Italy where I was able to study real life Renaissance art. This was one of the few times it came in handy to be an art history major. In Italy, I felt so vibrant and alive (cliche as that might be) and it was really the first time I was ever truly "on my own."
Sure, I was in college...three hours from home. With my best friend. Comfortably three years into my degree and surrounded by girls who will forever be my friends. So, you see, I was never really "on my own." When I decided to study in Florence it was with a girl who I was friends with, but she wasn't someone I would have considered a "best" friend. I believe that was one reason why I had such a life-altering experience there. I wasn't comfortable. I was a little scared. As a self-proclaimed introvert, I had to put myself out there. And it was fantastic.
While I came home to the US with an immediate appreciation for REAL Italian made pizza (not this junk pizza we have), the real influence sank in years later. For one, I ended up becoming close friends with one of my roommates in Italy. She was from Philadelphia, the same city my husband happens to be from. About a year into my relationship with my husband (then boyfriend), I received a message from my old friend asking about him and if he was from Philadelphia. Well, long story short, she lives two doors down from his dad and they actually knew of each other. What?! The world really IS small after all.
Second, though it has been 9 years, I keep finding inspiration from Florence. You can see the inspiration interjected into my art, my jewelry, my love of real food, and my cooking. I still remember how vivid the sun was and the sound of the street market below my window. I can still remember the feeling of seeing the Duomo for the first time and taking in all of the art. It was as if the whole city was a painting in and of itself. The thrill of exploring the city and finding our favorite restaurants. And the food, oh my goodness, the food.
No quote has been truer than "travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer." I am so grateful for the time I was able to spend in such a beautiful and culturally rich place. I have my parents to thank for allowing (and funding) me to go and my sister for urging me to study abroad. So, again, I urge you to travel and experience the world. Have you had any travels that stay with you? Tell me about it in comments below!