Monday, June 15, 2009


Welcomed home by beautiful weather and comforting faces, I am back in PA.

My first night back was not exactly as exciting as I anticipated, but that is probably my fault because I fell asleep at 8 p.m. only to realize at 1 a.m. I was wide-awake and fully dressed.

Time in New Freedom, PA has come and gone but the routine has not changed too much.

Life started up the same way I left it.  I still need to pay my speeding ticket. My room appears in the usual order and my house operates the same way. I am still obligated to write for a new job at Fly Magazine—my first articles are due June 26. I still have to make a million appointments and catch up on bank documents.

Most of my friends are busy trying to make money and my best friend is in New York. My boyfriend Curtis is still leaving for basic training. He will be in Georgia for six months. The only change is that now the date is sooner than we expected.

While trying to get my body back on East Coast time, normalcy is setting back in. No longer am I on holiday in a foreign country. I have a lot of responsibilities to take care of. Between spending time with Curtis, I have been trying to get back to my usual schedule.

After so many new adventures abroad, my first doctor’s appointment back in the states seemed a little strange.

Sitting behind the desk was the same secretary that I had made the appointment with a few days before I left for London. Her hair was done the same way and she wore the same blue scrubs she had four weeks ago. While she handed me the paperwork and briefed me in the documents that I had forgot to bring, I could not help but to think of how different our lives were.

She sat at the same desk everyday giving and taking documents. She laughed occasionally at a patient’s joke or a doctor’s comment. She saw the same co-workers everyday and knew them well. She lives routinely, in a climate of basically no change or difference.

Perhaps in her youth she traveled and saw sights like I did. Views like the mountains of Scotland may have captured her spirit and the bustle of places like the London tube may have made her feel worldly and important. Maybe she went to a European club and met people from France, Spain, Japan and the Middle East. She probably had experiences that she will never forget.

But, today, she sits in a worn chair and fusses with me about forgotten paperwork.

I apologize and tell her I am a little tired because I have just returned from London. She does not really care. She does not ask me about my travels. Instead, she returns to her frustrated state and displays an expression that makes me think the paperwork is a life or death form of documentation.

I looked at her and thought that in a lot of ways I can be like this secretary. Often I am wrapped up in my work and my business seems like the only business in need of concern. My first year at college proved this to be true.

My world consists of a small dorm room on a college campus that is an isolated community in itself. All that seems important is working hard to keep up my grades and get to know my professors. Media projects and a J Research paper smothered my thoughts and kept me focused on only the tasks at hand.

Most likely I will keep this mentality throughout my college education, because as students, this is what we are taught to do. Mentors preach to us about how the path to success is keeping focused and dedicated to our work.

However, taking this Travel Writing course abroad has shown me a different and crucial element of education—a respect for outside experience.

While I usually am the type of person who takes control of her life and her business, this course invited me to let my environment make most of the calls. Soon, I became less concerned about the blog post I would need to write in a few hours and more excited about what the next travel destination would bring.

London is a thriving city that charmed me with accents and various elements of European culture. It was an experience using pounds and pence to pay for items instead of dollars and cents. Learning how to substitute words like toilet for restroom, cheers for thanks, pissed for drunk and prawn for shrimp added to the fun of the trip.

Scotland is a beautiful place with lochs and bens that I could not take my eyes off of. The place and the people are charming. Eating lunch on the top of a mountain is something magical. It is a land that enveloped me with appeal and beauty.

This experience not only showed me a side of the world I had never seen, but it also opened my eyes to how magnificent a different culture can be. Allowing myself to fall into the arms of these places caused me to understand a new way of life. I was learning without using Google, textbooks or lectures.

Instead of placing the focus on taking notes and writing papers, I found that keeping my eyes open and my body moving produced the best work at the end of the day.

While the everyday grind and routine I know so well is no less essential to life, it is important to know that experiences and travels grant the most unique type of education and fulfillment.

Today, I am going to the beach with Curtis. It is nothing out of the ordinary, just a trip to a local beach. We will probably lay in the sand, swim under the waves and maybe take a run. This is the way summer usually goes.

Today, my doctor’s secretary sits in her chair scolding another patient for forgetting their paperwork.

Today, Mando Steve is stepping on the Tube to start work playing his mandolin.

Today, the Haggis tour guide Debs is showing off how beautiful the mountains of Scotland look with an accompanying joke of the day.

Today, is the start of a new week and a new routine.

Today, the world lies open and vulnerable to a new group of students who will break away from their small world and discover the lessons found in a foreign land.

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