I am leaving in less than two weeks to spend 25 days abroad traveling around Europe with two of my closest friends. We have been counting down the days for well over a year now, and it doesn’t seem to be really happening. I am a ball of excitement and nerves.
I don’t know why I always get so jittery before I leave on a trip. It could be the anticipation of seeing new places and learning new things. Or it could be the constant realization that I’m an adult now and doing things without my parents. It could be the nerves of doing stuff all on my own and becoming my own person. I’m not really sure. I guess it’s probably a combination of all of the above.
This summer, I have been working as a research assistant with a program called MSPAN and, specifically, their STRoNG Military Families program. I have been transcribing interviews for their parenting workshops they run every few weeks. In several of these interviews, I’ve heard very similar themes surrounding their kids developing personalities. Many of the parents talk about different experiences their kids are exposed to and how that affects the kind of person they are becoming.
One mother shared how much she loves being a military family because of how much they travel to new places because of it. Even though her son was very young, she shared with the interviewer how appreciative she is that he has been exposed to so many new places and people, and that these experiences are shaping the kind of person he is becoming as he grows up.
I always felt that traveling was the only real way I learned about myself. Ever since I was small, my parents have been dragging my siblings and I across the country to different National Parks and Monuments to see museums and big pieces of grassy land where some historic battle or another happened. When I was younger, all the history museums and seemingly unimportant buildings seemed a waste of my time.
As I grew up, I started to appreciate these experiences, and I know for a fact that my siblings and I wouldn’t be the people we are today without it. My brother just graduated from a military college and is now working on political campaigns – the same kid who stared up at the big airplanes hanging from the ceiling of the Smithsonian in awe. I have found a passion for culture, language and travel through these experiences, hoping to use these passions in my career in the future.
I cannot imagine not having seen all that stuff. Yeah, I groaned when we stopped at yet another museum with a bunch of old pieces of paper or walked all day through a park to see some rocks or water or something, but looking back on it, I am so glad I’ve been to those places, and I’ve found the beauty in memories of them.
So, as I move forward in my life and prepare to leave for my biggest and longest trip yet, I think of the beauty in those memories and I will make an effort to find the beauty in every moment that I am making the new memories.
To Reagan and Bekah, vámanos!