The Daily Aztec

Lessons learned from traveling the world

Boiling+mud+is+one+of+several+instances+of+geothermal+activity+at+N%C3%A1mafjall+in+Iceland.
Boiling mud is one of several instances of geothermal activity at Námafjall in Iceland.

Boiling mud is one of several instances of geothermal activity at Námafjall in Iceland.

Lauren J. Mapp

Lauren J. Mapp

Boiling mud is one of several instances of geothermal activity at Námafjall in Iceland.

by Lauren J. Mapp, Staff Writer

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At a 2013 conference in Cliza, Bolivia, I sat drinking chica (a fermented corn beverage), snacked on corn and had a conversation with someone in multiple languages.

The man — a French farmer living in Chile — did not speak English, but was fluent in both French and Spanish, with limited knowledge of Italian.

At the time I spoke Italian somewhat fluently, and had some knowledge of Spanish and French.

We spoke for half an hour about farming, water rights, traveling, family and Bolivian traditions, and when I stood up to walk away I realized an incredible fact.

Though we were not fluent in the same languages, and many of the sentences were a hodge podge of varying dialects, we had actually understood each other. 

This melding of languages and cultures is the beauty of traveling, and why I suggest doing it as often as possible. Throughout my adult life, I have been fortunate in that I’ve been able to travel to many places around the world, fulfilling my wanderlust and checking items off my bucket list one by one.

Steam flows out of the ground through a pile of rocks at Námafjall, one of many geological hot spots in Iceland.

Pont Alexandre III, an ornate deck bridge, crosses the Seine in Paris.

While I might not be able to go on adventures as often as I would like, I’m proud of the trips that I’ve been able to take.

Climbing the steps of Machu Picchu brought me back in time through the history of Peru.

Roaming through the streets of Paris with a cup of mulled wine in-hand continues to inspire my daydreams of perfectly autumnal days.

The quality of meals served in Italy has ruined food for me back in the United States, and our water will never taste quite as fresh as the sip I took directly from a glacier in Iceland.

In the past, people have asked me how I, as a college student, am able to travel as often as I have over the years. Prioritizing it over all other non-essential expenditures, I adhere to a careful budget so I may afford the luxury.

Whether as part of a formal study abroad program or recreationally, there are many benefits to visiting foreign countries.

Traveling has been one of the key factors behind the way I look at the world around me.

As a writer, it has inspired my work on both my food, beverage and travel blog, as well as in the articles that I write for outside news publications.

Going outside of my ever-expanding comfort zone and learning about other cultures has heightened my sense of critical thinking and my inquisitive nature. I constantly look for the story behind the story I am being told, something that is incredibly important as a journalist.

I’ve made many friends through my journeys, and these connections have been maintained over the years.

There are places around the world where I know I will have someone who I can meet at a cafe or go for a hike with when I return.

Because of my experiences, I can also connect with people who have been to some of the same places, or chat at length about why they should visit somewhere.

Scary as it might be to travel alone, the times when I have been on solo legs of trips are where I really grow.

That is when you have to practice and speak the language instead of relying on a friend. Being alone also means that when you want to see a specific site, there is no debate over whether to do that or something different.

In some instances I have even gained a greater appreciation for everything that San Diego has to offer.

Our diverse restaurant scene, beautiful beaches, hiking trails and generally perfect weather mean that when I come home, I do not dwell on the fact that I am no longer on vacation.

The one question I always ask myself when I get back from a trip is “Where next?”

The list keeps getting longer as my passion for traveling continues to expand, so I know there will always be a subsequent adventure.

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