London and Paris


(Image via Travel Triangle)

Lizzie Lohrer, Feature and Opinion Editor

Traveling abroad is waking up before the sun to drive to the airport. It’s rubbing the sleep out of your eyes as you say goodbye to your parents and hug your brother, who tries desperately to squirm away. It’s fidgeting nervously as you make your way through the security check and sighing with relief when you’ve made it through alive and well.

When I landed back in the United States on Saturday, the first thing I was asked was if London and Paris lived up to my expectations of them. I wasn’t quite sure how to answer because I wasn’t quite sure what I had expected. I know, though, that I didn’t expect to fall in love with Paris as I did. I didn’t expect to leave London with my heart aching and a longing to stay lodged in my throat. I didn’t expect to wait in line for customs on the way home without being bothered by the crowd. I didn’t expect to want to stay longer or want to go back and experience it all again.

London and Paris taught me the beauty of a bustling crowd. They taught me the wonder of history, of standing where centuries of people have stood. They taught me how to appreciate a city made up of dozens of different cultures, where the crowd you’re standing in is not a single pulsing entity but a swirling mix of language, background, ethnicity, customs, and beliefs.

Traveling abroad was an experience like no other. While at home, I have a support system keeping me upright, stable and calming me down when I need them to. Abroad, however, I had no one to rely on completely but myself, whether it was keeping with the group, buying my own food, or having to talk with people that I couldn’t necessarily understand due to a language barrier. Traveling to new places and handling new situations taught me to be self-reliant in a way staying home and living within my comfort zone never had.

As a student at Forest Grove, I had the wonderful opportunity to travel abroad and explore the world at a young age. Because I was able to go on this trip, I have been exposed to the idea of travel. At Forest Grove High School, we have wonderful opportunities to travel abroad, something that most students our age aren’t given. My hope is that all students would take advantage of this option and learn the advantages of traveling abroad and experiencing new things. The more we promote travel at a high school level, the more likely it is that students will accept travel opportunities as adults and the more likely it is that students will develop a global mindset and be open to new ideas.