I’ve always been one to enjoy a good adventure now and again, but unless I impulsively drive out of town, it’s always a struggle to plan a trip out of Winona. It’s nice, it’s safe, and I know where everything is. If I need coffee or a place to write, I know where to go. Its homey. It’s a comfort zone. And it is so important to escape.
Traveling gives you perspective; and not just pretty views. It allows you to immerse yourself in another culture, even for a short period of time, and see the way life can be different from the one you live. Talking to Londoners has allowed me to see how they view America. To them, London is somewhere they want to escape.
But we all need to escape our hometown, our comfort zone, giving you distance from your own life, and is a good time for reflection. Suddenly things at home don’t seem so pressing, large issues can seem so small, and everything becomes a bit clearer without the fog of your everyday monotonous routine. Being in London and away from the usual people in my life has let me look more at myself and what I want out of the relationships in my life.
Travel study with a university also gives you something else: a special type of bond. I know it sounds cliché but traveling with people is a connection that is different from any other. Whether it’s being cramped in a room with them for two weeks, getting lost on the subway, or just learning what their favorite food or historical subject is. It provides a chunk of time together that allows you to get to know people in a way few other situations will.
And the memories. In our daily life, time can pass by so quickly, in such a rush, it sometimes seems like years can pass in a blink of an eye. Traveling keeps you grounded. It gives you a sense of being in the moment. I feel fully present in the places I’m at and every walk has been a fun memory of the beautiful buildings we’ve seen, or just the kid who threw an entire DQ Blizzard into the street and kept walking. A two-week trip can feel like a year’s worth of activities and memories. (Plus, I’ll never forget seeing Van Gogh’s work!)
When you look back on your college career, you won’t remember the chemistry test you didn’t do great on, or when you overdressed for a party your freshman year. But you will carry with you good memories of friends you met, and adventures you had.
So, do it. Go and travel. Get out into the world and see what it has to offer. Winona will always be there to welcome you home, and in a way, you will enrich it with the person you come back as, for you will be different than when you left.
– Raelynn Peter ’21