Hi, my name is Brenda and I’m an expert hand talker, a lover of all things latte, and a strong believer in dancing your heart out. I was born and raised in Ottawa, Canada, and absolutely love my hometown. However, I always knew there was more to the world than just Canada’s capital. So much more to see, so many more people to meet, and so much more to learn. For that reason, I turned to traveling to satisfy my curiosity and this need for adventure.
I don’t just like to travel, I love to travel, and by love I mean I have a compulsive searching-for-the-next-destination disorder. I can’t pinpoint exactly when this love for travel began, but I can definitely say that it was greatly intensified when I went on my first international exchange.
Last September I spent 4 months living in France, meeting new people from all around the world, crossing countless countries off my destination bucket list, and learning more about myself than I could have ever anticipated. THAT, my friends, is what makes traveling so damn worth it.
You see, it’s not just the intense croissant and crepe cravings that I miss. It’s not the lack of any student-affordable priced wine in Canada. There is something so spiritual about being uprooted from everything and everyone you know and thrown headfirst into the fires of a foreign country, foreign language, and figuring it all out yourself.
Even though I spoke enough French to get by, I wouldn’t say everything was a walk in the park.
Calling home is easy in Canada.
Ordering coffee is easy in Canada.
Finding a spot for lunch is easy in Canada.
Being in a foreign country? NOTHING was easy, not even washing my socks.
But mapping out directions, ordering pizza in French, grabbing a pain au chocolat and café crème in the morning all became routine, second nature really. In the same breath, so did hopping on a TGV to who knows where, eating waffles in Belgium, and singing Wonderwall by Oasis on the streets of Lyon. It’s the kind of experiences like being lost in Strasbourg, buying shoes in sizes like EU38, and giving “bisous” to both strangers and friends that solidify your sense of self.
For me, traveling silences the cacophony of being 21. It forces me to put life in perspective. It forces me to see me, without the haze of university and family and drama, me in my truest and purest form. And it forces me to make adjustments to be the ME that I want to be.
No, things don’t always go as planned, sometimes lineups for museums are ridiculously long, sometimes the weather is not on your side, and sometimes transportation is, for lack of better words, a pain in the ass. Not to mention, you can’t always predict how long it will take to find a cute little coffee shop or how many canals you’ll walk by that are just too beautiful to not take a picture (or 20) in front of.
But all the difficulties along the way are what make reaching the final destination that much more satisfying. So although traveling definitely tests my patience and my use of geo-lost-ical coordinates, it’s that “I did it – I freaking made it!” feeling I just can’t get enough of.
That’s what made coming home to Ottawa so bittersweetly difficult. I’ve noticed how hard I’ve been bitten by the travel bug. I’ve noticed how much I crave the richness of faith and the humanity of the people from all over the globe. I’ve noticed how eager I am for the discovery of self to reveal itself again and again.
For all of these reasons, I keep coming back to one glaringly obvious conclusion: I need to travel more.
In fact, to make good on my revelation, it looks like I’ll be visiting Luxembourg, Germany, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovenia, and Croatia come August. Here’s to more adventures, more memories, and more nonsense!
If you’d like to keep up with my travels, follow @beatificbrenda on Instagram or visit beatificbrenda.wordpress.com.
Beatific travels everyone and Europe, I’ll see you soon!