Developing a Love for Traveling

Most of my childhood was spent dreading travel plans. My mom would always have the day packed with an itinerary from sunrise to sundown, and frankly that was just not something I wanted to do. Playing basketball, videogames, eating ice cream, and watching baseball was more of my cup of tea. Exploring some god-knows-where place in the middle of Maine? Museums? Hikes? Trying new foods? That all sounded awful. And for that, a lot of my teenage years were spent going from school, to taking a nap at home, going back out to basketball practice, coming home to watch TV, repeat. The thought of wasting time that could’ve been spent chilling out at home was agonizing. Even in non-basketball season where I had some more time to do things, I still would have rather just hung out at home.
Studying abroad has changed all of that. Combine that with the fact that I am now just a few months away from graduating college when it really feels like I just got to Salve two days ago, kind of lights a fire under you. I used to roll my eyes when hearing people rave about how great of an experience studying abroad is. Really, how great could it be? Learning about new cultures, discovering the layout of a new place, and all the other difficulties that come with it all seemed like too much of a hassle. However, now that I’m doing it, I can understand why people rave about the experience of being in a different country.
The main point of emphasis I wanted to make when writing this is my newfound love for traveling. It turns out my mom was right all along. First off, I’ll say that the planning stages suck. You spend 99% of the time praying you didn’t screw up the ticket selection for the bus/train/admission to wherever you want to go, and the other part is being tired, overwhelmed, lost, hungry, and having to urinate at the most inconvenient times. It’s easy to look at the negatives and deem traveling simply just not worth it. I used to think the same thing. Being in Ireland, however, has changed that perception very much. The beauty is inexplicable. Seeing the cliffs, green fields, Atlantic Ocean, farmlands, rainbows, small cities and towns, and everything else makes it 100% worth it and I’m extremely satisfied that I did it. Not to mention the great seafood that you can reward yourself with after a strenuous hike. 10-year-old me would hate myself for saying that because I used to hate everything about seafood.
That is a perfect example of just how important it is to put yourself in uncomfortable positions. There were definitely times I wasn’t enjoying myself when doing something new but what’s important though, is that I was subconsciously growing as a person. I was still doing something I wouldn’t have done before, and I feel like those aspects of our lives are so valuable. Because of this, I have found a new love for traveling and that will continue for the rest of my life. I don’t think there will ever be a point in life where I say “Ok. I’ve seen enough”. And as bad as human beings can be, that sense of wonder and curiosity is one of our best qualities. Studying abroad and traveling has made me realize that we are all works in progress. It’s not healthy to remain complacent in the mundaneness of life. There are always places to go and things to learn, and as demoralizing, hard, and frustrating life can be, those are reasons to keep going. Seeing the force and power of nature displayed by the Cliffs of Moher, the small and cozy village of Dingle, and the sheer authentic beauty of the Ring of Kerry is just a start on my journey of seeing everything the world has to offer; something that I would never have found in myself if I didn’t study abroad.

Shane McNerney is a Financial Management major at Salve Regina University (class of 2023) studying at University College Cork in Cork, Ireland

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