The Benefits of Traveling Young

The Benefits of Traveling Young

I graduate in just over a month. Wow. There are many different things I am contemplating as the countdown to commence has begun. Should I go back home for a job in Milwaukee, or move just about anywhere else in the country? Should I take a little travel break after I receive my diploma? What … Read more

I graduate in just over a month. Wow. There are many different things I am contemplating as the countdown to commence has begun. Should I go back home for a job in Milwaukee, or move just about anywhere else in the country? Should I take a little travel break after I receive my diploma? What about working internationally? I seem confused about my future, but optimistic I am not settling for something I would hate. In light of all these thoughts, I can across an article by Jeff Goins called Why You Should Travel Young, and needed to share excerpts of it with you. The morality if the article is that travel may not seem like it’s preparing you for a job, but there are many immeasurable assets you take away from being on the road. Read on to learn some!

“Do you think I should go to graduate school or move to Africa?”

I don’t think she was talking to me. In fact, I’m pretty sure she wasn’t. But that didn’t stop me from offering my opinion.

I told her to travel. Hands down. No excuses. Just go.

She sighed, nodding. “Yeah, but…”

I had heard this excuse before, and I didn’t buy it. I knew the “yeah-but” intimately. I had uttered it many times before. The words seem innocuous enough, but are actually quite fatal.

Yeah, but …

… what about debt?

… what about my job?

… what about my boyfriend?

This phrase is lethal. It makes it sound like we have the best of intentions, when really we are just too scared to do what we should. It allows us to be cowards while sounding noble.

Most people I know who waited to travel the world never did it. Conversely, plenty of people who waited for grad school or a steady job still did those things after they traveled.

In a year, I will turn thirty. Now I realize how wrong I was. Regardless of the intent of those words, there was wisdom in them.

As we get older, life can just sort of happen to us. Whatever we end up doing, we often end up with more responsibilities, more burdens, more obligations. This is not always bad. In fact, in many cases it is really good. It means you’re influencing people, leaving a legacy.

Youth is a time of total empowerment. You get to do what you want. As you mature and gain new responsibilities, you have to be very intentional about making sure you don’t lose sight of what’s important. The best way to do that is to make investments in your life so that you can have an effect on who you are in your later years.

I did this by traveling. Not for the sake of being a tourist, but to discover the beauty of life — to remember that I am not complete.

There is nothing like riding a bicycle across the Golden Gate Bridge or seeing the Coliseum at sunset. I wish I could paint a picture for you of how incredible the Guatemalan mountains are or what a rush it is to appear on Italian TV. Even the amazing photographs I have of Niagara Falls and the American Midwest countryside do not do these experiences justice. I can’t tell you how beautiful southern Spain is from the vantage point of a train; you have to experience it yourself. The only way you can relate is by seeing them.

While you’re young, you should travel. You should take the time to see the world and taste the fullness of life. Spend an afternoon sitting in front of the Michelangelo. Walk the streets of Paris. Climb Kilimanjaro. Hike the Appalachian trail. See the Great Wall of China. Get your heart broken by the “killing fields” of Cambodia. Swim through the Great Barrier Reef. These are the moments that define the rest of your life; they’re the experiences that stick with you forever.

Traveling will change you like little else can. It will put you in places that will force you to care for issues that are bigger than you. You will begin to understand that the world is both very large and very small. You will have a newfound respect for pain and suffering, having seen that two-thirds of humanity struggle to simply get a meal each day.

While you’re still young, get cultured. Get to know the world and the magnificent people that fill it. The world is a stunning place, full of outstanding works of art. See it.

You won’t always be young. And life won’t always be just about you. So travel, young person. Experience the world for all it’s worth. Become a person of culture, adventure, and compassion. While you still can.

Do not squander this time. You will never have it again. You have a crucial opportunity to invest in the next season of your life now. Whatever you sow, you will eventually reap. The habits you form in this season will stick with you for the rest of your life. So choose those habits wisely.

And if you’re not as young as you’d like (few of us are), travel anyway. It may not be easy or practical, but it’s worth it. Traveling allows you to feel more connected to your fellow human beings in a deep and lasting way, like little else can. In other words, it makes you more human.

That’s what it did for me, anyway.

Thank to you Converge magazine for the post!

When in Rome

When in Rome

There are almost no words to describe Rome. This weekend I got to travel to the city and it surpassed all of my expectations. From eating my first gelato in front of the Trevi Fountain to standing with my polka dot umbrella in front of the Colosseum, I felt as though I was living out … Read more

There are almost no words to describe Rome. This weekend I got to travel to the city and it surpassed all of my expectations. From eating my first gelato in front of the Trevi Fountain to standing with my polka dot umbrella in front of the Colosseum, I felt as though I was living out a scene in a movie. This is the stuff you see on the big screen, with a bag of popcorn on your lap, yet I was seeing it with my own eyes. I still can’t believe I was just a few feet away from the Colosseum. I am so blessed.

The day began with a 7:30 a.m. meeting time to catch the 8 a.m. train. However, since there was about an inch of snow, the train was delayed. We were told that Italy never gets snow, so when it does snow, no one knows what to do. Trains are delayed, people go into major panic and the streets are filled with crazy drivers (and this is different from any other time?). I wasn’t too upset about the delay though, since that meant I had an extra hour to slip into a cozy café and order a breakfast pastry. Although one that I had tried before looked tempting, I promised myself to try new things so I picked out a croissant with wild berry fruit inside. Delicious!

The first thing we saw in Rome was the Vatican. I had no interest in seeing the Vatican, mostly because I had no idea about its significance or history before we went. However, the second I walked inside I was speechless. Every single inch of the walls, ceilings and floors has so much detail. It is absolutely amazing. I could have stayed in the Vatican for hours just staring at the ceiling itself.

vatican

Next we visited the Pantheon. I was surprised to learn that the ceiling of the Pantheon is open and there are slits in the floor to allow for water to drain into when it rains. Mass is still held there even when it rains. We came across the cutest gelato and crepe store right next to the Pantheon that I can’t wait to take my sisters to when they visit!

pantheon

We then visited Piazza Novana, which was a big open piazza with two fountains. Although it was pretty, I was hardly paying attention since our tour guide announced that the Trevi Fountain would be next. I was literally giddy with excitement. I was a bit embarrassed as I could not fight back the biggest smile ever from sliding across my face. Before you see the fountain, you hear the water flowing, which builds even more anticipation. Closing my eyes to make a wish and toss a coin into the Trevi Fountain was definitely the highlight of the trip for me.

After the Trevi Fountain, we visited the Spanish Steps and then we were free for lunch. While the rest of the kids in the program then went back to Viterbo, a group of us decided to stay at a hostel for the night so that we could see more of Rome! Before finding the hostel, we grabbed some gelato and saw the Trevi Fountain lit up. I was so excited for my first gelato. I got melon flavored!

trevi fountain

The next morning we visited the Colosseum! It was so incredible to be standing right there, in front of it. I decided to wait to tour the inside until my sisters visit, so we could do it together.

colosseum

After the Colosseum, we did some souvenir shopping, revisited the Trevi Fountain and Pantheon and grabbed lunch. We then made our way back to the train station so that we could catch the next train back to Viterbo. However, pleased that we got to the station literally three minutes before the train was to arrive, we then noticed we forgot to purchase tickets. Panic mode set in. Our group sent me and two of my roommates to run as fast as we could through the station to buy tickets and return within the next three minutes… even though we just traveled up four flights of stairs, a broken escalator and around the corner from the ticket counter to get to the train platform. I have never ran so fast in my entire life. The fact that I just had a slice of pizza and potato wedges for lunch was not helping whatsoever. There were two people in front of us as we stood at the counter, gasping for air, praying for them to hurry. Of course, the man at the ticket counter decided to take his sweet time. The second he handed us our tickets, I heard the train arrive above. My roommates and I looked at each other and yelled “run!” Back around the corner we went, up four flights of stairs, the broken escalator, and finally to the train platform, all the while wishing that I had skipped the potato wedges and would have been previously trained for a 5k so that I was ready for this moment. We finally reached the top of the train platform, only to see the end of the train pulling away. So, we collapsed onto a bench and had an hour to catch our breath until the next train.

This weekend was absolutely exhausting, but amazing. I am hoping that tossing my coin into the Trevi Fountain does in fact ensure me a return trip to Rome one day.

Ciao from Viterbo!

Ciao from Viterbo!

Ciao from Viterbo (pronounced “vee-tear-bo” I learned)! The first few days have been a whirlwind. I’m pretty sure I have experienced every possible emotion since Monday. Anxious (on the way to the airport), sad (saying goodbye), the “what in the world have I done?” emotion (walking by myself to the terminal), happy and loved (reading … Read more

Ciao from Viterbo (pronounced “vee-tear-bo” I learned)! The first few days have been a whirlwind. I’m pretty sure I have experienced every possible emotion since Monday. Anxious (on the way to the airport), sad (saying goodbye), the “what in the world have I done?” emotion (walking by myself to the terminal), happy and loved (reading notes from friends and family on the plane), proud (for locating the correct gate in the Chicago airport… a big accomplishment for me), eager (15 hours travel time = lots of time to think about what is to come), hopeful (meeting friendly study abroad students on the group flight), exhausted (sleeping for a total of 15 minutes on all three flights combined = not the most cheerful Hannah), excited… yet overwhelmed (first Italian meal served: three different types of bruschetta, three different types of pizza [each piece bigger than my head] and some sort of yummy chocolate dessert), lonely (not proud to say I was the biggest baby on the first night), ecstatic (when a cute Italian offered to show us a café with wi-fi, and I got a hold of mom through Skype!), satisfaction and contentment (after finally moving into the apartment, taking a much needed hot shower, and climbing into bed).

flower shop

Today I had my first Italian breakfast: a croissant with jelly and pineapple juice. We then had orientation and were taken to our apartments. Everyone lives in different apartments, all over the city. We have a three bedroom apartment and I was assigned my own room (so lucky!). You can walk out onto a balcony from my room and it overlooks a cute little flower shop below! I can also see the city and older, medieval buildings with my view. It is freezing and so dark in the apartments since electricity costs so much money here. Italians only leave the heat on for a few hours a day we were told and never at night. Walking up the stairs to our apartment building is also a bit scary since all lights are to be turned off, unless extremely necessary, to save money.

We were taken on a tour of the city today and I wanted to stop every 30 seconds to take pictures, but I figured I have the next four months to explore and take pictures, so I kept my camera in my bag and just took the city in. Every corner you turn looks like a set from a movie. Cobblestone streets, colorful orange, pink and yellow buildings with clothes hanging out to dry, rows and rows of vespas and beautiful, old, medieval buildings and houses with numerous pots of beautiful flowers leading down their staircases. viterbo

For dinner we went to a pizzeria (there is one about every 30 steps you take here). It was my first time looking at an Italian menu. When we sat down, we were each brought a glass of white wine. It was so funny to be served wine, since I am only 20 years old. I ordered penne pasta. The waitress spoke Italian only, so it was a bit hard to communicate. When I didn’t finish all of my meal, she looked very confused and asked me if it was good. I said yes, good! She then asked, in Italian, if it was good, why didn’t you finish it? I rubbed my stomach and said “very full” (I REALLY need to learn some more Italian) and she said “Ahhh, si!” She then rubbed her stomach, and laughed, saying “peliculo!” meaning tiny, followed by an “expanding” hand gesture… which I think meant I need to expand my stomach for all of the Italian food.

P.S. One of the most important things I learned today: Italian cars DO NOT stop. They will hit you, so watch out!

The Countdown Continues

The Countdown Continues

It was not until I attended the pre-departure study abroad orientation on campus that I realized how many Mount Union students are traveling abroad next semester! Including me, there is a total of 22 students studying abroad. Students will be traveling to Australia, Costa Rica, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, New Zealand and Spain. Each … Read more

It was not until I attended the pre-departure study abroad orientation on campus that I realized how many Mount Union students are traveling abroad next semester! Including me, there is a total of 22 students studying abroad. Students will be traveling to Australia, Costa Rica, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, New Zealand and Spain. Each location varies drastically in what there is to see and do, and each student will have such a different experience while abroad.

I was curious to know what fellow study abroad participants were looking forward to most, so I reached out to a few students.

  • Laura Mould (Ireland): “I’m really looking forward to being able to travel through Ireland and Europe and see many of the things that I’ve wanted to see my whole life. I’m really just looking forward to the experience in general, being able to say that I did it and got to be truly independent and on my own for a while!”
  • Emily Stafford (Japan): “Japan’s culture and America’s is so very different. I am really excited to meet new people and see and try different things. It is a once in a lifetime chance to learn by living a new lifestyle. I hope that it will be a wonderful trip and that the experiences help me discover a new side of my life!”
  • Rachel Toth (Germany): “The thing that I am most looking forward to is being able to be totally immersed in a new culture. I love traveling and trying different things, so this will be very exciting – and a little nerve wracking as well.”

When asked, past study abroad participants were more than willing to pass on helpful advice.

  • Alyssa Greenwell (London): “Take advantage of every opportunity you are given while abroad. Travel to another country for the weekend. Try new foods. Experience the different cultures. Take risks. Studying abroad is one of the greatest experiences you will ever have so be sure to get everything you can out of it. It truly is the time of your life.”
  • Megan Shadrach (France): “It is important to keep an open mind about everything you see and do, and be able to laugh at your mistakes!”
  • Zak Suhar (Spain): “You might be afraid or anxious, but just know that studying abroad is a huge adventure. You may encounter struggles, confusion, sorrows and a lot of opportunities, but the most exciting things are the guarantees that are rewarded through travel. Just think how much you will grow and learn from this amazing experience.” (Zak is a fellow blogger. Check out his page here!)

What am I looking forward to most? I can’t wait to toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain in Rome and stand in front of the Eiffel Tower, for the first time, in Paris. I have dreamed of traveling to Europe since before I can remember, never believing I would ever be given the opportunity to do so. It feels so surreal that it is actually happening and I can’t wait to live out my dream.

The countdown continues: 35 more days!

Are you traveling abroad? If so, what are you looking forward to most? Do you have any advice for students studying abroad? Feel free to comment below!

It Feels Like Summer

It Feels Like Summer

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Campus is full of people outside all the time now. It seems like every day I can see a frisbee being thrown, a soccer ball being kicked and shirtless men playing sand volleyball. This weather is amazing and I feel like it is going to stay, which is surprising in Ohio.

I just read in the paper that this winter was one of the warmest winters ever recorded. I can easily believe that since last school year it was still cold when I went home in May. I didn’t believe that it would get so warm so fast. I am always pessimistic about the weather. I never want to get my hopes up.

I love to run outside, but I’m starting to run barefoot so I am running inside of the Peterson Field House.

Baseball has always been a summer sport, so it only makes it feel more like summer when I have to watch it nearly every day. I have just started to consistently experience athletic training with the baseball team.  There has only been one “scary” injury so far but he is OK and should heal with no problem. I am slowly learning all of their names and quickly learning their personalities. I also realized quickly that nearly all of our starters are sophomores. That’s my class status so I definitely take pride in knowing that our class is doing work and doing it well. Just like last semester when I was at Hoover High School for my athletic training experience, I am getting closer with the team. I am pumped when we win, and I feel even worse when someone get hurts. Athletic training makes you have a heart toward athletes a little more than if you were just a fan. You have to actually take care of their injuries, so when they can triumph over that injury, you feel like you contributed to their success.

A Simple Way to Save 3 Lives

A Simple Way to Save 3 Lives

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Have you ever wanted to save a life? Help someone? Make a difference? Well, all three of these ambitions can be accomplished in one quick, easy action. Can you guess what this action may be? You probably have no idea, as people do not realize the effects of this common action. Well, it just so happens that this action is the simple act of donating blood.

Every minute of every day, someone needs blood. To be exact, according to the American Red Cross, every two seconds someone has a need for blood. The only source of that blood is from a volunteer donor, a person like you and I who makes the choice to donate. Currently, in the United States only three out of every 100 people donate blood. Did you know though that one pint of blood, which is the amount given during most blood donations, can save up to three lives? I can guarantee that many people did not know that.

The process to donate blood is not a difficult one by any means and is not a long process, as it takes about an hour and 15 minutes to donate overall. When you arrive to the blood drive, you are given paperwork and a bit of information to read. You then proceed to have your vitals checked (pulse rate, temperature and blood pressure) and answer a series of questions. The questions are simple yes/no questions, which help to determine if you are able to donate blood because there are certain requirements to donate and certain aspects that prohibit donations. The iron level in your blood also is tested. Next, you move to the actual donation portion. After the donation is complete, you move to the refreshment table to refuel your body. As you can see, the process is pretty simple.

So have you ever donated blood? Hopefully, the answer to that question is yes. I have been donating blood ever since I reached the minimum age requirement of 16 years old. I couldn’t wait to donate blood because I knew that my blood was making a difference. The first time I gave blood was a little nerve-racking, however now the process is like a simple 1-2-3 to me. This past Tuesday, the American Red Cross held a blood drive on the University of Mount Union’s campus in the Mount Union Theatre. I, of course, donated my pint of blood and saved three lives. Might I add, I even received a Chipotle gift card!

Donating blood presents an easy way to help others and provides a good feeling after. So the next time a blood drives comes your way and you are presented with the opportunity to give, DO IT! If not for the purpose of saving three lives, then at least for the purpose of receiving a Chipotle gift card!

Click here to read more facts about blood from the American Red Cross.