By College Tourist; Author: Kristy Gustafson, University of Colorado at Boulder
Answer your own call to adventure and find your hero within!
In English class, they teach you about a pattern of narrative called The Hero's Journey. While no two journeys ever look the same, they all seem to start out with some kind of call to adventure. Then a few challenges, some helpful guidance, a world-rocking revelation, and finally, after the long-awaited transformation, comes the hero's return home.
Being the hopeless romantic that I am, my favorite stories were always the ones about - yup, you guessed it -- love. I just thrived off the tales where everything came together in one sweeping act of serendipity. Even the lows eventually turn to highs, the lessons however challenging are learned, and, as fate (and far-too-predictable-yet-lovable romantic comedies) would have it, the girl may even get the guy. And vice versa.
Like we didn't see that one coming...
Everything works out in the end -- or doesn't -- perhaps as we least expected, but just as it was meant to be. Sounds a bit like this thing we call life. Though there may not be any riding off into the sunset (at least not right this minute), eventually, all the loose ends get tied. The i's are dotted, the t's are crossed, and the heroine moves onto her next journey, poised and ready for whatever comes her way. And while in the movies, she may be one step closer to getting the guy, as a traveler, she's one step closer to getting the world.
And that's the greatest love story ever told.
During my junior year of college, I answered my own call to adventure and embarked upon my hero's journey in Barcelona as a student abroad.
Everything was new and exciting -- like freshman year, but with a far greater sense of maturity. (Thank heavens for that.)
I was completely out of my comfort zone, which made it all the more thrilling. I was growing and learning, and with it, I was ready to take a plunge into the abyss of the exciting world that lay before me.
This is right about the time in the story where the hero or heroine comes face-to-face with their share of challenges. And, I, of course, was no exception.
Whether it was getting lost, experiencing the city's infamous pickpockets, cancelled flights with no refunds, loneliness, or missing home, any of these could have easily thrown me off course. But using the guidance of the world around me, and accepting and learning as I went, this heroine was able to treat those bumps in the road as mere stepping stones; and off I went finding my place and continuing down the road less traveled.
I explored places I had only dreamt of, and people I had admired from afar. And before I knew it -- challenges and all -- I was falling in love. Not with a person, but with the world, I was falling head-over-heels for this big and beautiful world. And while it may not have been the Ryan-Gosling-man-of-my-dreams-knight-in-shining-armor I had originally picked out, it was a love I would never forget.
For travel is a love that can last a lifetime, and endure across continents. It's a kind of love that will never break my heart.
In the end, I guess you could say I had my "world-rocking" hero's revelation after all.
And for all you aspiring adventurers out there, here it is:
Travel and love are one in the same.
You go in blind. Just as there's no way of knowing who or what this life is to bring, there's no way of preparing you for it either. Trust me, your packing list doesn't even begin to cover it. It's a journey, and you learn as you go. You learn things about your surroundings, and, best of all, you learn things about yourself -- what lights you up, what pushes you to your limit, and what makes this life worth living.
It gives you butterflies. The thrill of the unknown, the joy of what's to come, the beauty of transformation -- it's all waiting for you on the other end of that flight. Do you feel flapping excitement yet?
What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Like love, travel has its fair share of challenges -- challenges that help you learn to overcome fear, to find yourself, and to grow. Not to mention, challenges that make for epic stories down the road...
When in doubt, there's plenty of fish in the sea. 7 continents and 195 countries, to be exact. Take your pick, and explore.
There's hope for a happy ending. And an unforgettable one at that. No matter what happens down the road, a love like this can never be lost. It lives on through memories and pictures and stories. It lives on through you... even long after you've made the hero's return home.