Was there a single event that makes me want to pack my bags and venture off through the world? Not quite. I think it's a mixture of my love for history, languages, and different cultures.
If you talk to anyone from my high school, they will probably tell you that I was good at math and studied German. I was the biggest math and science geek. From Physics to AP Physics to Honors Algebra to AP Calculus, numbers were my thing, and I was damn good with them. In the ninth and eleventh grade, however, I had two European history teachers who began the process of converting me to a history obsessed girl. History was alive -- at least European history (not the biggest fan of US history until we get to Wilson, but I'll talk about that reasoning later) -- and history was fun. In between all the Louis, Habsburgs, and anyone who had "the Great" after their name, I couldn't get enough of. Even with all of the passion I had though, I didn't know if I was ready to say goodbye to my numbers. They had been so good to me.
Here comes the other thing I was good at -- German. Don't let me fool you, I was good the German my high school teacher taught me, which was catered to the National German Exam. If you don't know, it's not necessarily the most useful German if you actually want to hold a modern conversation today, which frustrates me. After about 7 years with the language, I'm nowhere near the level I want to be...but back to the story. Every other year anyone who had studied up to two years of German at my school could participate in the German-American Partnership Program. Needless to say, signed myself up.
Now, to where the two sub-stories combine into one, epic story. Well, at least to me. This trip occurred after I finished my AP European History course, which is still probably my favorite history class, and I'm about to enter my senior year of college. After the three-ish weeks we spent in Hannover and four days in Frankfurt, we finally made it to Berlin. On one of our day trips, we went to the palace Sanssouci in the nearby city of Potsdam. This was the summer residence of the one and only Frederick the Great. We used an audio tour, and our group entered one of hundreds of the ornately decorated rooms. Not gonna lie, they all started to blend together after an hour. The Palace was still beautiful though - well worth the visit. This room, however, was different than the rest. There I stood, staring at a random desk and chair. All of a sudden, the voice on the audio tour said something along the lines of, "this is the chair, in which Frederick the Great was sitting when he died." OH. MY. GOD. I may have embarrassed myself..and by may have I mean definitely..by having the most excited/I'm freaking out over this reaction. I had literally just spend weeks studying Frederick the Great, and here I was, standing where he died. I felt SO cool (it didn't actually add any cool points for me back home).
This was the turning point where I decided to abandon numbers. I loved math, but history became a passion, and seeing history up close and personal was a whole different experience.
So why Europe? Because I love European history.
Why travel? Because traveling brings history to life. It opens you up to a whole new world of experiences that you can't see in your backyard.
Follow your passions. You would be doing yourself a disservice not to.