By Olivia Clarke
It’s Fall Break for universities in France, and we American students have dispersed to every corner of Europe. I’m spending the week in Frankfurt, and friends of mine are traveling in England, Ireland, the Czech Republic, Poland, Italy, and Spain. We’re all trying to soak up as much of Europe as possible during the vacation. Our weekends have been filling up, too – we’re taking trips to places like Bordeaux, Toulouse, and northern Spain whenever we get the chance. We’re in Europe, after all, and we don’t know when we’ll make it back here; therefore, it’s important to take advantage of our time on the continent by traveling as much as possible.
I’ve been enjoying these European adventures, but all of this suitcase-packing and hostel-booking has also brought a question to mind: why do we only have this attitude when we’re abroad? At home in Portland, I tend to trudge through each week with my eyes to the ground, focusing on schoolwork and spending my free time on the internet. I rarely leave the city to go on hikes or explore other parts of Oregon, let alone travel out of state. In Europe, on the other hand, I’m becoming a regular jet-setter. But it’s not as if my home country is a boring one; being away from the U.S. is making me appreciate how vast and interesting the country really is. Even in the Northwest, where travel would be easy and relatively inexpensive, there are plenty of places I haven’t explored. I could easily take a day trip to the mountains or the coast with a few friends, and after I return from Europe, I think I’ll make more time for these small adventures. My time abroad is teaching me that travel is very possible and very rewarding; by embracing Europe, I’m also learning the value of what my own region has to offer.