It’s was (probably) a cold Wisconsin day when I decided to take German. Why German you ask? Because the teacher never gave homework. True middle school logic. That and all of my friends we’re taking it too. Turns out I actually really wanted to go to Germany too, but that only happened a whole five years later in 2010, the last chance I had while still in high school.

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Yes, that is me, soaking wet on a bridge at Mount Cook National Park

This was my first trip internationally when I was a senior in high school. It was just a toe in the water compared to my plans now. This wasn’t when I decided that travel was my passion or something I wanted to do long term. No, it was a fun vacation where I got to miss some school and go to Europe with friends.

Now college starts and I plan to study abroad in London. My heart was set on it, then I went and changed my major. I still could have gone, but a cool fall day my sophomore year, I received and email about a photography class in New Zealand. I honestly never even thought about going there on my own, but figured hey, it could be fun and this is my chance to go abroad.

So, I applied for the class and got it, so off to New Zealand I went for two weeks that winter break. This is when it all began.

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Yes, that is blonde me at a torture museum in Germany

I was hooked. I wasn’t ready to travel long term, but definitely got all of my legs wet here (ya know, like a toe in the water, but more.) The next year is when it really hit me. Another email. This time it was Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands. There was no way I couldn’t do this. I told my parents and got the usual “oh are you sure you want to? It’s pretty expensive.” Yeah, but it’s the Galapagos! I signed up and accepted the debt right along with it.

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Yes, I did get to walk a llama, and here name was Maria

This was it. I was hooked. I didn’t want to go home. At all. I would have been perfectly happy living with the iguanas and sea lions on the beach in the scorching heat. This is when I knew, I wanted to travel long term. This is also about when I discovered travel blogs and that I could have my own and travel on my own too, something I never dreamed.

Here I am today, sitting in a Starbucks, writing to you while I save for my trip to Slovenia next month and begin to plan my first trip on my own, not as part a group or tour, to Central America when I graduate in December. A lot has changed over the last four years, but for the better.

What triggered your wanderlust? What’s your favorite place you’ve been so far?