I will be writing a journal of my travels in Europe during the second half of 2014. This will kind of be like a late diary.. considering I was planning on keeping one during my travels, but that obviously didn’t happen. I would like some sort of remembrance and recording of what happened during those 4 months in Europe so I am going to write it down while my memory is still (somewhat) fresh.
I will be taking it one country at a time and include any pictures I took in the specific countries (which are not many, I’m not really a picture guy). They will probably be brief posts, including what I did in the country, people I connected well with, what I liked, what I didn’t like, and any specific observations I can make about the time I spent there.
A guideline I will try to observe:
- No mentioning of sexual encounters or illicit/illegal activities (if either of those even happened )
If you have any questions or comments about anything related to my travels, feel free to contact me through whichever method you would like or comment below and I will reply right away. I love to talk about my travels and I love to help people have similar experiences!
And so begins my Travel Journal.
This is actually the same poster I had on my wall and used to plan my trip
The first topic I will explore is how my entire trip came to fruition.
The story begins late 2013. I had recently changed my major and was dedicating more and more time to MMA, but I was struggling to really complete my life the way I wanted it to. I had an idea of what I wanted in life, my goals, and the changes I had to implement in my life, but being surrounded by the same people, same environment, same expectations put enormous pressure on me to remain exactly that – the same. I can’t blame anyone or anything for that pressure because while some of it was definitely external, the defining majority was coming from an internal source. I couldn’t find the power inside of me to make the changes I needed to make in my life and I felt trapped.
So naturally, the anxiety and negative emotions from this welled up inside of me and one day I woke up in the morning, in complete despair, with the worst panic attack I have ever suffered in my life and the only words I could hear in my head were “I can’t keep going on like this”. Sounds a little suicidal, but that was never really an option, it was more like an extreme call for action from my mind/soul. I probably have never felt so bad in my life as I did that morning.
That morning, there was no choice but to make a change and I did. I decided I had to go. I had to go somewhere, completely different, externally and internally. I made two resolutions that morning… that I was leaving the country to go backpacking on September 1st (about 9 months from that day) and I was going to have my first MMA fight before then. The MMA fight is a topic for another time, but I had already decided that I was making my trip on that fateful day.
“Actually I just woke up one day and decided I didn’t want to feel like that anymore or ever again so I changed just like that”
That set up the incentive for me to go on my trip, but how did I actually accomplish it? My trip took many different forms during planning and ended up being nothing like I expected or planned, but one thing remained the same throughout all the plans – the need for money! I had time and motivation on my side, however. Nothing is as motivating as having a strict deadline in front of your eyes and I set out to make at least $6000 before I left. I got my first job outside of leadership positions on campus. I was working as a busser at Kobe Japanese Steakhouse, a very draining job, and still taking classes, working as an RA, and training MMA full time for a fight I was scheduled for in June. It could be the busiest, most time consumed period of my life, but I was in the process of living my dream and, looking back, it was one of the best times of my life.
Another stumbling block that I may have had if I hadn’t already decided I was going is the doubts and opinions of other people. I’d say people were split into three groups when I told them about my trip (and I didn’t tell many). One third of people flat out refused to believe that I was going, one third told me it was a terrible idea, and the other third told me it was amazing and they were jealous that they couldn’t do the same thing. My family, a very important part of my life, definitely fell into the first two groups at first. Their negative response was discouraging at times, but I tried to remember one thing – I am the only one that has to live my life.
If I listened to people’s advice on how to live my life, I would have not accomplished half of what I have, I would be very disillusioned with life, and the worst part: those same people would have already forgotten what they had told me I should do, but I am the one that will never forget because I have to live with the consequences! Instead I listened to people’s advice and quietly discounted it as I continued to move forward with my plans for my life. As it turns out, those people in the first two groups of doubters and discouragers ended up slowly piling into the third group of people who encouraged me and told me how they envied me. This taught me a valuable lesson about listening to yourself, first and foremost.
“My first restaurant experience – bussing your tables after you eat some Hibachi”
4 months out from my trip, I wasn’t nearly at half of $6000. I realized I needed to light a fire under my ass and I went out and bought a ticket (for a great price) to Sweden on September 3rd. That did it. I was extremely resourceful and looked for multiple sources to make the money I needed for my trip. I stopped spending money on nearly anything and was as frugal as a college student could possibly be. I moved into my fraternity brother’s couch and was literally spending less than $300 a month in total expenses.
“I am a bloodhound for finding cheap plane tickets”
I am definitely going to write in the future about different ways to make the money you need to travel as I believe that the number one reason people do not travel is because they have false beliefs about how much money they will need and how much money they can save if they really want to.
Fast forward a few months… I won my first MMA fight and reached $6000+ in my bank account. I was riding the high all the way to the plane. I bought my supplies, put everything into my huge backpack, said a nervous goodbye to my friends and family, and got on the plane to Sweden. (And that is a story for the first page of my Travel Journal)!!!
Family on the day of departure
Friends on the day of departure
The final goodbye
“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time”