Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Everyone Has a Country Bucket List, Here's Mine.

When people often think of going abroad they think they of all the hot tourist places like Italy, France, or Australia. Yes, all of these countries are amazing and have so much to offer, but what about the countries that are off the beaten path? Why not taken the path less traveled and go to a country that not many can say they've studied abroad in? After going abroad and studying in the United Kingdom my eyes were opened to the world and more possibilities. I have fallen in love with countries that I have never even been to. Before I left for Education Abroad I dreamed of seeing places like Italy, and I still do, but now the top of my list consists of Croatia, Thailand, and Iceland. They are countries I had never even thought of, but now I can't get out of my head. These destinations are huge spots that Europeans like to spend their holidays at.

They are countries that tourists often turn their blind eye towards, but also might hold the most unique experiences. Going somewhere like the UK my first time abroad was amazing, but culturally it was pretty similar to the United States. There are differences, but not like going to Thailand where the culture is largely different from that of the United States. Once you take that first step abroad you start to get braver, more adventurous. You think hmmm....well maybe I could go to a country where they don't speak English or maybe I could go to a country that I normally would have perceived as being completely outside of my comfort zone. They say to take the path less traveled in life and studying abroad in one of these countries, would definitely be the path less traveled. I can't tell you enough how much Education Abroad opens your eyes. It makes you well-rounded, independent and just aware of what is going on in the world around you. It forces you to leave that little Midwestern bubble so many of us grew up in.

Why not go to Thailand ride an elephant, buy some fruit from a floating market, go to Bangkok or visit Wat Arun also known as the Temple of Doom. Thailand has endless possibilities and offers a diverse experience.
Krabi Island, Thailand
Wat Arun, Bangkok, Thailand
Iceland, you're probably thinking why would I ever want to visit a country that is called an ice land? Because it is spectacular, that's why! Go visit the geysers, watch whales of the coast or visit Landmannalaugar which contains mountains, lava fields and a volcano. What a site it will be! 
Landmannalaugar, Iceland
When I tell most people I want to visit Croatia they just give me a blank stare, most people have never even heard of the country. I hadn't either until I saw a picture advertising for it in a London tube station and let me tell you, I was hooked. Croatia has a lot to offer. I am pretty sure I talk with my boss Melissa, everyday, about how I want to go to Croatia. If you do find yourself in the country, first I am insanely jealous if you are, and second be sure to visit the country's most breathtaking park, Plitvice Lakes National Park, swing by Zadar an old historic town of Croatia, and if you have a chance sail the Adriatic Sea along the Croatian coast.
Plitvice Lakes National Park
Dubrovnik, Croatia
You know that spot right outside your comfort zone that so many of us hate visiting? Well let me tell you folks, that is where the magic happens, where life happens. So going abroad is scary enough for you and out of your comfort zone? Then great! Visit Australia or Ireland, but just be sure to take the countries off the beaten path into consideration. Visit them one day, maybe when you're a little braver and the world doesn't seem like such a big and scary place. I will never regret where I studied abroad, but I do wish I had taken a look at other countries that were more culturally different as well. Then again, I never would have discovered Croatia if I had not been in that London tube station. All I know is when I get to the end of life I want to be proud of the life I have lived and know I explored every inch of this beautiful place we call earth. Life is supposed to be full of adventures, making mistakes, getting lost and finding yourself along the way.

This week in class my professor gave me some great advice and I just though I'd share it with you all. It really just spoke to me.

" Life is messy, especially those lives well lived."



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