“The core of man’s spirit comes from new experiences” - Christopher McCandless. Travel has helped me do a lot of spirit-building and soul-searching by enabling me to step out of my comfort zone and experience new things, thereby making my life a lot more enriching and fulfilling! I had always been a sheltered, focused individual, a straight-As student with a long check list and a set 5-year and 10-year plan. “Getting lost” was never on the agenda but living and working in Europe for 1.5 years completely changed my view of life. Life wasn’t a check-list of things to do any more but more like an open map of possibilities and opportunities. Getting lost helped me find myself.  I wasn’t living for the future but making the most of the “now” and carpeing every diem life had to offer in Europe! I got back my child-like sense of curiosity, I developed an appreciation for the smaller things I had taken for granted and tried to make the most of every opportunity that came my way.  There is a Moorish proverb along the lines of “he who does not travel, does not know the value of men” and I completely agree. Travel has helped me see how wonderful people can be and understand the essence of humanity. Travel is not just about the places you go to and the things you do and see but is about the people you meet. Each person I met during my travels left and indelible impression on me, strangers became friends, friends became like family. Travel helped me become a citizen of the world, a cultural chameleon and helped me learn a LOT from the people that I met and find myself. Today, when I look back at life as a 24 year old trying to make my way in the world, I think of what life could have been had I stuck to my check-list and then I think of what I would have lost had I not ditched my check-list and lived it up in Europe for eighteen months…and I smile. I wouldn’t have had all those amazing experiences and met all those people, including the “real me”, had I not ditched my check-list! Living in Europe, just after graduating from University was just what I needed. You only regret the things you didn’t do and I’m mighty glad I did travel and lose myself only to find myself and my mark in the world! I read this quote on the internet which said that don’t tell me how educated you are but how much you have traveled and I completely agree. Travel is the best teacher and the best way to experience and learn about life. Noone returns “home” as the person who left it before they embarked on their travels. I certainly did not!  We are raised in a society where we are supposed to know where we want to go and also know how to get there. I understand the sentiment, I understand the motivation behind it but I also think that getting a bit lost on the way to where you want to be can be highly rewarding. The discovery of America by Columbus, the Eureka moment that Archimedes had in his bathtub, the establishment of Pixar by Steve Jobs would have all been pretty hard to do if they hadn’t gotten slightly lost, slightly off-track from where they were going/what they were doing.  So travel, get lost, stray off the beaten path and who knows, you might just find yourself!

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