Posted by on Dec 1, 2015 in Travel | 2 comments

“Find life experiences and swallow them whole. Travel. Meet many people. Go down some dead ends and explore dark alleys. Try everything. Exhaust yourself in the glorious pursuit of life.” -Lawrence K. Fish 

 As I sit here only a few hours before flying back to New York City, my heart is full of happiness. It’s always a bittersweet feeling heading back home, especially after meeting so many new friends. 

 For the past two months I’ve been traveling around the Middle East and Europe with my best friend Courtney. What an eye-opening trip this has been! Together, we’ve put our trust in complete strangers, CouchSurfed with the most amazing humans on this planet, and shared fascinating experiences with old and new friends.  

 Our old and new friends greeted us with open arms and treated us like family in every country we visited: Georgia, Cyprus, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Italy. From cooking us Italian feasts to taking care of us after suffering from food poisoning, these people have been there for us through the good and bad times.  

 Travel isn’t always easy, and I’m so thankful to have met such wonderful, caring people on these adventures. I especially appreciate all of our friends opening up to us about religion, politics and cultural differences. I’ve truly learned more in the past two months than I have in years. I’ve learned that it’s important to keep an open mind and to listen carefully. Meeting local people is the best way to learn about a new country, and you’ll also learn even more about how your own country is viewed around the globe. 

   I’m especially grateful to have traveled in the Middle East. Often, the media in the United States portrays the people and countries in such a negative light. The people in Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt are extremely hospitable. One of my favorite memories includes eating a traditional Jordanian feast on our last night in Amman prepared by our new friend Abdullah’s mother. The people are so willing to open up their homes and make you feel like you’re part of the family. 

 I hope you meet amazing people along the way who challenge you and make you look at life a little differently. I’m so thankful for this journey and I look forward to seeing my old and new friends in the future.