Going into my freshman year of college two things were facts to me: One, photography was my passion, therefore I was going to be a photographer and two; I was going to do multiple studies abroad. It seems crazy, but at that time I was completely certain of that and only that. I went to the first study abroad fair my school offered and came back to my dorm room with a two-foot tall stack of study abroad information. Information pamphlets, flyers, and guides from my school on their exchange programs, independent study abroad provider’s booklets, and travel networks. I had it all and I was determined to find the ones for me.
I started with my school’s programs, but quickly ruled them out because they were not the best fit for me. They had a slim selection for photography majors and none were in major cities, which was another requirement for me. After ruling out my school’s programs, I started going through my mountain of books from independent providers. The hours flew by as I went through each one and search for my best options. The biggest factor in determining if a program was for me was if it offered photography – taking a photography course at another school in another part of the world was a must. I loved the idea of getting to work with other artist and photographers and seeing how they worked and viewed my work. Another requirement was if the school was located in the center of a major city. I wanted to make traveling as easy, affordable, and stress free as possible once I was abroad so studying at as school in a major city with access to trains, buses, airports seemed like the best way to go. Sure you can get to all of those things from other schools that aren’t centrally based, but I was going for optimal travel, no time wasted.
After going through all of my books multiple times, I finally settled on my first program: CIS Abroad’s summer photography program in the Outback. It was a summer course for three weeks in the Australian outback. I was fortunate enough at the time I was going to have family living in Australia at the time, so after my program ended I jumped on a plane and stayed with them for two weeks. I made the best memories on my short but sweet time in Australia, the best friends, and had the greatest experience with CIS that I knew I wanted to go through the same program for my next study abroad: my semester abroad.
(Left is a photo of me from the day we hiked to to top of St Mary's Peak in the Flinder's Range, taken by @robyncatherine22)
For my semester abroad I was drawn to London. I love it’s history, architecture, and style of living. I loved the idea that if I wanted to go somewhere else for the weekend I could just jump on a train at St. Pancras or Kings Cross, take a MegaBus, or book a flight and just go. London was not only an amazing place to live, but also a great central location to travel from. Even with the expensive cost of living, it was the place I saw myself living for six months, and the place I feel in love with before I even left. I loved the rain (even though it really did not rain that much. The lies), the Tube was amazing, and everyday was an adventure. I was never bored or thought, well there's nothing to do today or gosh I've already done everything twice, because there is just so much to do in London. Even from London, you could do so many day trips and be back for dinner. Even after six months of living in London, I still have a list of places I did not make it to and things I did not get to do. (So London, I'll be back)
For both of my studies abroad my focus was always driven to building my portfolio, learning as much as possible, and becoming a better traveler. Learning as much as possible didn’t always happen in a classroom, and becoming a better traveler didn’t always happen by doing everything right or according to plan. I made a lot of mistakes and learned a lot of hard lessons a long the way. But without them, I wouldn’t know what I know now, and I wouldn’t be the better person and traveler.
xx A Traveler's Bliss
the beginning of my charm bracelet // Photo of me and Ben by @kellymckeough
(hey - hey you. click the bliss above... do it.)