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One of my first mem­ories is of my parents reading me the stories of “Peter Pan” and “Robin Hood.” Even now, I strive to keep those stories of courage, adventure, and endless pos­si­bil­ities alive in my own life.

So with almost no planning nor prior expe­rience, I traveled the world in 80 days, thanks to the gen­erosity of Hillsdale, my parents, and the summers spent slaving away in the Texas sun. In the span of a few months, I traveled from Jerusalem to Wash­ington D.C. to New York City to Iceland to Oxford Uni­versity to Edin­burgh to Munich to Vienna to Flo­rence to Paris. You get the idea. Almost com­pletely on my own. Though I traveled in groups during a few of my trips, I mostly trotted across the globe by myself with just my camera, credit card, and a list of things to see. And I would do it all again: There’s some­thing special and invaluable about dis­cov­ering the world on your own.

There’s a par­tic­u­larly unique expe­rience in Rome that comes to mind: I stayed at an adorable, tiny hostel on the out­skirts of the city. My humble host, a sweet 40-year old lady named Roberta, made me feel welcome in the sprawling streets of Italy’s largest city. Not only did she offer helpful tips to local food joints and grocery markets, but she also cooked an amazing meal for her guests and we sang songs around the living room table till 2 a.m. This memory, along with countless others, offered a special enlight­enment: every place and every person is filled with dif­ferent stories, and life is filled with lessons to learn.

As fun as trav­eling for days on end sounds, I shared my forms of struggles. For me, it’s not easy being inde­pendent, and tra­versing the world alone was chal­lenging. Although I pride myself on being spon­ta­neous and adven­turous, I do enjoy spending time with people, and the longer I was by myself, the longer the train rides seemed and the harder maneu­vering around cities appeared. But whether it was losing my wallet in the middle of Switzerland, catching a 4 a.m. train in Padua, Italy, or wan­dering through the streets of Paris with a dead phone, I look back and laugh at how silly it all was. But these moments of chaos also brought a pro­longed senses of quiet and peace in the Aus­trian plains, the moun­tains of the Swiss alps, or the stucco homes of the Italian coun­tryside. These were the moments I learned to reex­amine and ask myself: What is wonder, or culture, or beauty?

As college stu­dents, we are called to learn deeply and grow together. But it wasn’t until I left Hillsdale’s campus that I dis­covered that my edu­cation was fully actu­alized when I applied it to the world beyond Central Hall. Studying abroad or trav­elling alone isn’t for everyone, but it’s important to remember that there’s a world we have no idea about, and stories and cul­tures we have never heard of. Through my own journey, I learned that we cannot be fully human if we don’t try to see the world and the beauty that lies before us. Whether it’s in your small mid­western town, the streets of Wash­ington D.C., or even in the halls of the Oxford col­leges, never take your journey for granted and learn to see the world as it is.

As human beings, we are all sto­ry­tellers, eager to share our expe­ri­ences with others. Don George from National Geo­graphic puts it per­fectly when he says, “In order to write deeply, you have to live deeply. This means that your primary mission as a sto­ry­teller is to see keenly, taste keenly, hear keenly, smell keenly, feel keenly.” This doesn’t just apply to writing. To live well, we must expe­rience the world around us. And the best way to do that is to get out and go do it.