Posts Tagged ‘Wanderlust’

by Tricia Lunt, English Faculty

I can’t take it anymore. I want to go back to Europe. I haven’t been on a European vacation since I accompanied some friends to Ireland for their wedding in 2004. This is unacceptable. I need to travel.

It doesn’t help that I really only watch PBS, which means endless episodes of Rick Steves’ Europe. He is incredible dorky, and I need him desperately. He’s my connection, my pusher. I’m addicted to the quaint landscapes and elegant buildings of Europe, and frankly, I need a fix.

I have been lucky enough to visit several European countries, but there are still so many on my wish list. Unfortunately, European travel isn’t exactly in my budget these days. I did the bulk of my travelling when I lived in Ohio because it is cheaper to live in Ohio. The cost of living in Chicago just doesn’t enable the expensive flight across the Atlantic. So, I’ve been left with no alternative but to ache with unrequited love for the countries yet unseen: Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain. Strangely, the same “PIGS” held responsible for the EU’s economic difficulties are the places I’ve yet to visit. Perhaps my presence there could usher in a new economic prosperity. I’m not much of a souvenir shopper, but I’d do my part.

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If you’re wondering what’s so special about Europe, you probably haven’t been there. Beyond anything else, I adore the authentic sense of place: the awareness that the cities and towns grand and small mean something to the people who live there and pass through. Additionally, European cities are remarkably walkable, and enormously pleasant to see in that way, closely and slowly. Like a good American traveler, I am quieter and more careful when I am in Europe, adjusting to the lifestyle and longing for long, lazy days in a café.

Another reason why I long to travel is due to its astounding capacity to remind me exactly who I am. When I am alone in a foreign country, I sense my true self completely. The lack of anything familiar brings me to the surface. I am who I sometimes forget to be: observant, grateful, aware. The newness of each experience is like a visit to the awe-inspiring aspects of childhood; the whole world opens in incredible ways. I recognize that I am a part of something grand and mysterious.

I’ll feel that again, someday. I’ll busy myself entering free travel contests and shopping for cheap airfare online. Until then, the desire will have to do.