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Have you ever had a surreal moment where you feel like you’ve stepped into a movie? Like you’re seeing something through someone else’s eyes, and the images in front of you are far too brilliant to be your own reality? That’s how I’ve felt for the past week. Few people have been to England once. I am lucky enough to have gone TWICE. Europe is every bit as beautiful and romantic in person as it is on the big screen, except it’s even more magnificent. In the movies, you get a taste of worlds you’ve never seen, but there’s no way you can comprehend them through a television screen. You have to see, touch, feel, taste, smell.. and live. I don’t understand why people are obsessed with places like Gatlinburg when there’s an ENTIRE WORLD of beauty out there, and there’s no way any of us will ever experience it all in our lifetimes.

The first time I traveled abroad, I was 16. I’d barely gotten a taste of life but I was already craving more of the world. So I decided to take a European tour. At the time, I’d never flown on a plane. I’d never been out of the country, never had a real job, never been kissed, never been in love, and never really considered my abilities to stand on my own two feet without family and friends to comfort me. And there I was, in lands I’d never even fathomed, with complete strangers, far from home for several weeks – and loving every minute of it. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had this glorious childlike naiveté – this simplicity and peace of mind that was neither forced nor ignorant – and it allowed me to be ecstatic over the tiniest details of my trip.

For anyone with an imagination, I’d say traveling is like returning to childhood, finding adventures around every corner, being amazed by every new sight and sound laid like a platter before you. This time around, I was less naive. I knew what to expect because I’d done some of these things before. I wasn’t alone; I had one of my best friends to share it with. I was better prepared, street smart, and looking at the world with the eyes of a young woman instead of a teenage girl. I saw the romance I’d overlooked before. I slowed down and enjoyed things I’d skipped out on the first trip. And I corrected mistakes I’d made the first trip, too. Although it wasn’t as exciting this time because it wasn’t as new, it was refreshing and inspiring and it lived up to every expectation.

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