500 Miles

The sky turned a soft pink that blended into the blue of the open sky. As the hum of the plane settled just above the clouds, I reflected upon the last three weeks of my life. The images of locations I have been blend together in mosaic patterns. Two countries, eleven hostels, thousands of miles by plane, bus, and ferry, hundreds of pieces of toast, hours of laughter, meeting new people, embracing cultural differences, and far too much haggis. With every new experience, I embraced the moment. This once in a lifetime moment with my peers. My peers that have become so much more than that.

My heart felt wrenched from my chest as I said goodbye. When this journey began, I figured I would only learn a new culture and perhaps get to know my peers better. Little did I know that this journey was more about friendship than it was culture. As I looked at my brothers and sisters around me, I realized what laughter and deep conversations we have shared. The moments of frustration to the moments of absolute joy blend in a journey that carried our understanding across two countries. Our journey began in a classroom where we had little recollection of one another, and now we are a clan that would walk 500 miles just to get to chipotle and be in one another’s company! From the days of only seeing sheep pastures to the days we walked until our bodies quit on us, I cherish every moment. To my ladies that created a place for me to truly be myself, thank you. Thank you Rachel, Elizabeth, Sarah, Emily, Kelsey, and Ali. Thank you for listening to my heart, cracking jokes, and singing with me. Thanks to the boys, Lyle and Max, that protected us in the bog and shared your stories that freaked us out and made us laugh. Thank you to our leaders, Kathy and Isabelle, that despite having to overcome many obstacles, you still took care of us and made sure we had a place to sleep. It isn’t an easy task to take 20 something’s across the globe! There are stories that we may share that others will not understand. We will continue to chuckle to ourselves about how awful things are and how we mishear things. The inside jokes truly are never ending. Thank you my peers that became my friends and my adventuremates. You truly made my experience one of laughter, joy, and adventure.

I remember a quote from the tour guide at Clonmacnoise. He said, “I hope you return home a better person than when you came”. In these closing moments I ponder his statement. With every place I have traveled, I have learned something. And in this journey to Ireland and Scotland, I have changed. I recognize the value of taking ownership of my own experience. To have a good attitude no matter the obstacle and to embrace differences with an open heart. Traveling is about seeing differently. To realize this world is so much grander than we make it out to be. How there are billions of people that scatter the earths surface. Each living a different story and seeing the world in a different way. We write our own story. Beyond external circumstance, we have a choice. I noticed a difference in my ability to adapt during this trip. As Rachel claimed, I am a nomad of sorts. A personality that can handle living out of a backpack just for the chance to learn a new culture. How my feet are not planted anywhere, but my heart is scattered across this world. I seek to be a world changer, a big dreamer, and to continue to learn every single day of my life. My journey continues forward and with every 500 miles crossed, new friendships have formed that continue to carry me through all the grand hardships and joys of life.

Blessings,

Bethany Jane

P.S. “I just love you guys”

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