“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard
Spontaneity and shear optimism were two of the many concepts that fused my motivation, to embark on my first solo vacation earlier this year. I truly believed that, with a mindset such as that, I would encounter nothing less than a glorious experience; however, my anticipated trip to Cuba quickly confirmed that theory to be incorrect, and yet, I’m glad it turned out to be that way. One of the most versed travellers of all time, Ibn Battuta, explains this unusual revelation quite well, when he stated: “Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.”
The popular question asked by today’s sheltered generation is, “Why travel when you can sit in the comfort of your own home and, if anything, Google all you need to see and know about any destination in the world?”, well, why deprive yourself of experiences that cannot be seen, heard, or felt in any other way than to be there in person?
My short-strummed journey to Cuba was painstakingly unforgettable, and yet I was left wanting to experience more. I commenced this venture with three specific goals in mind: to relax, soak up the sun, and enjoy the aspects of the tropics that I’ve longed for; however, not one of those goals became a reality. As disappointed as I was, I came to realize that, while I was focusing on the small, insignificant aspects, I was wasting a great opportunity to expand my creativity and growth as an individual. Unfortunately, many people tend to overlook just how much their new experiences effect their future decisions and the depth of their creativity.
So, take the risk of exploration; understand the need to broaden your perspective; and step beyond the bounds of your backyard, it will truly change you in ways you may have never predicted. It is a venture that deepens your understanding of various moral concepts and ideals. It is the gateway to a vast curriculum of education, that cannot be found within the mere four walls of a classroom. In the words of the well-known St. Augustine, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” I can only imagine the effect that travel would have upon our modern-day inventors and entrepreneurs – qualities of which exists within us all. If only we unveiled the eyes of our understanding to realize that, the education and opportunities we are given here, in Canada, is a foundation of which we must continue to build upon.
Despite the unforeseen circumstances I encountered in Cuba, the writer in me discovered boundless inspirations among the people, within the culture, and in the intricate parts of my temporary home. And even though my anticipated tours and excursions got cancelled at the very last minute, the engineer in me uncovered the amazing architecture and technology around the towns and in the city, and I found ways to truly appreciate the land.
When I started to focus on embracing my surrounding, and soaking up more than just the sun, an unknown desire ignited within me: a desire to venture out into many parts of world, with the ambition to roam the lands of places I’ve only heard about in classrooms and seen in movies; to give whatever I can to whomever will receive, and to gain as much as I can to take home with me.
“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” – Mary Anne Radmacher
Above all else, I believe that my adventure enhanced my character and personality. I had the pleasure of encountering many people from different parts of the world; sharing stories and experiences with them, and truly feeling like a grain of sand amongst a vast beach. I was humbled by the experience – being given the cloak of humility.
“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” – Gustave Flaubert
And so, I implore: embrace your inner Columbus. Leave the quarters in which you know and discover the riches of another place. And regardless of the outcome of your overall experience, remember that what follows every decision is a lesson, and a possibly enticing story.
– Shantel Maloney
Civil Engineering Technology ‘16
Follow Shantel @shantel_jenneil