They say traveling is good for your mental health and for learning new experiences. Well, not only is that true, but sometimes, it can make you feel more gratitude for things that seem so basic in your everyday life. After reflecting on my incredible time in Stockholm, Amsterdam, and Hamburg, I internally realized that I feel more grateful for three specific aspects in my life.
1 – Living in America
One thing I find so privileged to be able to say is that I live in the U.S. Quite honestly, I genuinely believe most of my peers and those in my generation do not appreciate it as much as they should, considering the major gap of privilege we (as Americans) have compared to other countries, even in Europe. The life of an average American is extremely privileged, from several job opportunities, ability to attend universities with specialized programs, a focus on athletic sports, and so much more. For a more personal example, the ability for myself and many others to pursue a dream career and life surrounding entrepreneurship, blogging, and freelance is highly privileged and not as common in Europe as my close friend from Germany mentioned to me. The route most German university students is very structured and specific to what they will do after university; from law, business administration, finance, teaching, and etc. If they decide to switch their study focus after a year or two, they have to essentially start over from 0 and possibly even transfer to a new university that specializes more in that field. Insane, right? Because in America, if we switch majors, we still have a good chance to finish in four years, and hey–I’m a personal example of that!
I never truly realized how fortunate I am to live in the States and to have the ability to “not give a fuck” about what other people think and simply pursue my dream with focus, strategy, and discipline. My international friends living in Europe are not as fortunate to be able to do so and initially even felt confused on how that was possible to achieve [as a recent college graduate].
So, if you are also in a similar boat as me and currently holding it together while working your ass off to pursue a successful life on your own terms, just know that many others in other countries don’t even have the opportunity to do that, let alone seriously consider it.
2 – Cellular Data
This one is definitely not as “deep” as the first one, but still worthy to note because I surely took note of this for the ten days that I was limited on data. Most of us have the privilege to use a high amount of data, or even unlimited data, on a daily basis while scrolling on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and multiple social media platforms. For the ten days I was in Europe, I had extremely limited data and had to refrain from using any apps that I used large amounts of data aka Instagram and anything with excessive photos, videos, and etc. It made me laugh a bit at how much we rely on data nowadays, not only to keep up to date with what’s going on around the world, but also even just to get around if you are lost. I essentially only used data for Google Maps, Yelp, and WhatsApp, the essentials I needed while traveling in foreign cities. Maybe it’s time we go back to using data more as a tool rather than a basic habit…anyone else remember when cellular data was just a luxury cost not a required fee for the phone plan?
3 – Freedom to Pursue Passions
Based on my observations in Europe and from hearing personal stories from my friends in Germany, they don’t make much time to explore passions outside of school, especially if they are in university. Even when it comes to working part-time while in school, it’s not nearly as common as it is in the US for college students.Most students or individuals my age are typically going with the flow of what others are doing and often times, that is simply pursuing university and outings with friends. Over time, this just becomes the society and culture norm and as school becomes more time consuming, they have less “freedom” to pursue outside passions and activities. Or they simply make zero time for it.
When I was in college, I had three part-time jobs and all three of these allowed me to explore various passions of mine (i.e. figure skating coaching, life coaching/mentoring, digital marketing) and build up real world skills while attending college. Even when taking five to six classes a semester, I still created time to pursue other passions like writing, blogging, photography, and various creative outlets. To me, this has always been relatively normal to do as a student, to try and experience new things during this growth stage. But to others outside of America, this is not nearly as normal and I recognized that many found this to be either slightly odd or simply privileged. In other words, my friends had to get accustomed to me bringing my camera all around Europe to take unique and candid shots 😉
It’s truly a privilege to live in a country where pursuing dreams beyond the “American Dream” is socially acceptable and even supported by fellow individuals who are doing the same, to break barriers and walls that were set before. Eternally grateful for the small and big things in life and I will continue to practice gratitude to remind myself of these everyday opportunities.