Tag Archives: passion

Never Stop Exploring

2 Apr

Welcome back, dear readers!

So as you know I started this blog before my big move to Prague. It was 2013 & I was nearing my university graduation & had no idea what I wanted to do.

So in the single most important act I have ever done–I bought a one-way ticket & moved to a faraway land all alone for a year of ups & downs.

Fast-forward 3 years later to today, where I can honestly say that I am in such a happy place. While I am now living a lot closer to home, I still have made a point to surround myself with as much travel opportunities as possible.

Whether with family, friends, or solo, I made a pact to myself when I moved back to the U.S.: never stop exploring no matter what. 

No matter what others say & no matter what the news says–just keep going.

Even if you have to save up entire paychecks for plane tickets, take painfully long yet affordable budget buses cross country, or sleep on someone’s lumpy couch for a couple of nights.

It will absolutely always be worth it.

And it always has been.

But sadly while the past few years have been comprised of some of my best vacations abroad, they have also consisted of some of the most tragic world events.

Every day tells of another bombing or shooting or death toll; innocent lives are drastically being wiped out by evil.

It’s unexplainable, it’s incomprehensible…it’s terrifying.

So why would I still want to travel?

Why would I put myself at risk to be another statistic

Well, that’s simple: because travel has always given me so much.

It has given me global perspectives: shattering ethnocentric ideas, expanding cultural knowledge & fully allowing me to experience being “the other”.

(Quite noticeably the only Westerners in Hong Kong’s remote Ngong Ping village, Grampy & I just went with the flow) 

It has given me self confidence: learning to navigate new cities, new languages & unfamiliar customs all on my own.

(Living in a city with minimal English-speaking, I learned the Czech language basics fast. Especially when it came to pivo!)

It has given me my dream job, uniting students & families from all over the world to form life-lasting bonds.

(Wonderful exchange students my company brought to the U.S. & are currently living with volunteer host families)

And of COURSE it has given me all my wonderful friendships with so many extraordinary human beings.

(My Japanese “sisters” in Tokyo)

(My host mother & host brother, Simon, in Paris)

(My TEFL “family” in Prague)

(My friend Meaghan & I spending Xmas 2013 with the family of my French friend, Apolline!)

When I say travel is my passion–I mean it.

And when you are fully invested in a passion, you will let nothing else stand in its way.

And I won’t.

Think about it: some people have “risky” passions like extreme sports. Yes, there is possible danger, however, with proper education & precaution, the dangers minimize drastically.

The same way you wouldn’t get behind the wheel of a race car without proper training, I would never travel to a foreign city without doing proper research.

Of course, any true traveler knows preparation is key. Making sure maps, currency conversions, accommodations & plans are finalized before moving forward. & A heightened sense of common sense can go a long way.

“Traveling smart” has saved me more than a few times abroad. Whether it be using my intuition about bad situations or being prepared should plans go wrong–this is my first rule of going anywhere.

(Though considered a “Second World Country”, Thailand had some of the nicest locals I’ve ever met)

As prepared as I am, every time I announce a new trip abroad, I am still always met by a response of worry & concern.

While sometimes it can seem understandable, I am still so sick of justifying my travels to people who know nothing about the destinations I’m going to.

To people who allow a heightened sense of media-induced paranoia cloud their logic. Reading exaggerated headlines & watching sensationalized videos that teach them that every thing outside their front door is a war zone.

& I’m sorry, but I refuse to buy into this mindset.

Don’t you understand? That is what terrorists want. They want us afraid & divided. They want us hateful & unable to continue our daily routines. They want us to scapegoat & point fingers.

Well, I don’t know about you, dear readers, but there’s no way I will let them succeed.

I will never stop exploring, asking questions & looking for answers.

I refuse to close my mind. I will not stigmatize 1.6 billion people for the horrendous actions of few. I will not panic about going to a city near Brussels when my own city has already had several shootings in 2016. I will not listen to politicians who use racism to further a disgusting agenda of hate. & I will never use blanket statements like “they” or “them” when discussing large groups of people.

(MEPI friends from various countries in the Middle East/North Africa!)

Because every human is different, & I refuse to believe that everyone is inherently bad…& travel keeps re-enforcing this for me. 

I have met with Hurricane Katrina survivors in New Orleans who have an indescribable sense of faith in the wake of so much tragedy.

(Service trip with my High School to New Orleans in 2008)

I have had strangers in Budapest, Prague & Vienna (who spoke zero English) literally take me by the hand to steer me in the right direction when I was lost & afraid & alone.

 

(I only found my way around Austria & Hungary thanks to the kindness of strangers!)

I have had wonderful experiences in Tokyo, Istanbul & Paris that would not have been half as special if it was not for the overwhelming hospitality of local friends.

(Mike is from Chicago but he was the best tour guide in Istanbul! Thanks, brother!)

& I have met extraordinary human beings in every single city I’ve been who have shared delicious meals, informative pub debates, & deep insight into their beautiful cultures with me, an outsider.

(Like my Japanese sisters, I am also very close with the group of Brazilian students we befriended who were studying at my university in 2014)

So next week I will venture back to Europe alone. I will FINALLY be reunited with the cooler older sister I never had, Gillian, in her new home, The Hague. Then travel by myself to Amsterdam & Copenhagen.

And I have not an ounce of fear.

Because I will do what I always do. I will pack all my travel supplies: my maps, my converters & my clothing layers. I will print out all my itineraries, my plane reservations, & my hostel addresses.

& I will be aware of my surroundings.

Not a panicked hyper-awareness, but not a foolish lack of awareness–just simply aware.

Like I always am when I’m in a new city.

And I will be fine.

I mean, I get to explore two brand new cities! I will see the wold-famous Keukenhof Tulip Gardens & the beautiful seaside Nyhavn canal & get to have some much needed pub talk with one of my best friends!

(See you soon, Gillian!)

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over these past few years, dear readers, it is that you cannot allow anything to dictate your happiness. 

No job, no lover, & absolutely no fear.

You must continue to venture on, to explore the unknown even when it can be terrifying. Because you never know what wonderful experiences or people may be waiting just around the corner.

Happy travels!

JG 🙂

 

 

 

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Resolutions.

23 Jan

So, dear readers, the last you heard from me I was bracing for life as a 25-year-old. Now it has been almost one month & let me say, not a whole lot has changed (except I can’t believe I’m saying that number when anyone asks me how old I am)!

What has changed for now though, is a few parts of my lifestyle.

Backing up a bit, 2016 will mark my fourth year of writing in the Czech It Out Blog! To sum it up: You have watched me graduate from college, prepare to move to Prague for a year, move there, freak out, find a job, find the BEST friends, hate my job, fall in love, quit my job, come home, sink into a depression, find my dream job, break up, climb out of the depression, get political, then travel back to Prague & beyond!

Haven’t we grown so much together? I know I have–I mean my writing is proof of that. I went into this blog thinking I would just write some fun wanderlust-inspiring posts for friends back home. Little did I know that this blog would soon become a vault for writing done during the most prominent metamorphosis of my life. 

Honestly! I have a new friend who has begun reading from the beginning of Czech It Out & is a little shocked at how different of a person I am NOW compared to who I was in June 2013 when I published my first post!

And then there are you, my dear readers. You are the family, friends, acquaintances & strangers who have been tuning in from the beginning. Thank you again for your constant support!

And you know how I look at the beginning of each new year; how I structure my ‘resolution’. You know I don’t believe in giving something up or adding something new, but instead ask: what do I want to get out of this year? 

Some of the past few years were very successful:

2013: I Want To Find Adventure- I moved to Prague alone in July 2013, just two months after my college graduation. I had no friends, no job & couldn’t speak the language!

2014: I Want To Find Love- I met Filip in January who was one of my greatest love stories to date. Later that year in September I realized just how loved I truly was while healing from my dog bite.

2015: I Want To Find Success- Towards the end of 2014 I got my dream job working at EF with exchange students. The following year (after a ton of hard work) I received a pay raise & two mini promotions & now feel more successful & content than ever.

So you’re noticing there is kind of a theme with my resolutions–they are not very black & white. True to my poetic soul, each year I give myself a resolution that can be interpreted many different ways.

I determine what I want & need based on my current state going into the year, what am I craving the most & a goal I hope to achieve? After a little deliberation about what my current values are, I have decided…

2016: I Want To Find Health For The Mindy, Body & Soul 

Once again, this is not as black & white as “go to the gym more” or “cut out sweets”. This resolution will probably be the most challenging of all, because where my previous resolutions where 1 part me & 1 part fate this one is all me. I have to work very hard to achieve these goals myself.

Plus this goal is the most personal of all, let me break it down for you…

1. Mind. Stay away from toxic thoughts (anger, jealousy, revenge, etc.) both towards others & self.

This one is a lot harder than you’d think. I may have the occasional ill-will towards others, however, I have always been the type of person who avoids those that I do not like. I don’t give them the time of day.

However, one thing I have been struggling with my whole life are the horrible thoughts I have towards myself. Whether this is socialization or society or a toxic combination of both, I truly can be my own worst enemy.

And I never realized just how bad it was until last year.

Shortly after my dog bite fiasco in August 2014, I began visiting a wonderful therapist named Dorothy. She was patient, understanding, & honest. She made me feel comfortable confiding in things I have never told anyone before. 

We would discuss the thoughts & issues I had & then construct how we could improve them. This was really helpful for me to overcoming the depression after my dog bite, however, we soon had to confront the terrible elephant in the room: my crippling body image.

This was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. I wasn’t just ripping off flimsy band-aids from lifelong cuts, I was digging through the hard shell I had acquired in Prague then ripping off the band-aid to expose my deepest & darkest wounds.

There were times when our conversations helped me overcome huge obstacles & there were times when we couldn’t even continue the session because I was so upset. But these talks were something 24-year-old Jessi needed, they were something 14-year-old Jessi needed & they were even something 5-year-old Jessi needed.

2016 began with insurance telling me that they would no longer cover my visits with Dorothy. And there was no way I could afford them, so it was time to say good-bye.

It was a lot harder than I expected because this woman has helped me through so much. Fighting off the demons that have always tortured me & confronting them with a new-found strength. The sad realization is the demons will always be there it’s just now I realize how much artillery I have to defend myself.

This is why I ask 2016 to please allow my to continue to strengthen my mind.

2. Body. Respect & thank your body for all it has helped you through. Do not poison it or maim it, instead focus on how to nourish & replenish it. In return it will continue to function properly.

During my time with Dorothy she would have me complete several writing exercises where I was forced to divulge all my insecurities of my body, but also realize all it can accomplish. 

The sheer idea of it being able to recover completely from such a horrific injury is pretty incredible. As is its ability to help me get through so many early morning gym workouts & then extreme physical activities like caving in Budapest & climbing to the top of one of the New Hampshire White Mountains!

Bodies can do some pretty cool stuff when you get past all your hang ups about their exterior design ! 

However, this got me thinking what have I done for my body lately?  Not a whole lot except critique it, shame it & fill it with a whole lot of things that are not too good for it.

Besides having a very sensitive stomach & a bit of scoliosis, my body was considered quite healthy. All limbs work, white blood cells respond promptly to illness & all my vitals are perfect. So why was I basically poisoning it with processed food, alcohol & trans fat?

It is time to make a change.

A few months ago, I went on a medication that didn’t allow me to drink alcohol. I followed this stringently & was pretty surprised to realize how easy it was. 

That is why I have now decided to give up drinking alcohol altogether.

Not to make a big deal about it or shame you for drinking it, but because all that sugar isn’t good for me, my hangovers in the past year were unbearable & alcohol lead me to a few scenarios where I put my body into even more harm.

No more.

Another change will have to be diet. But not your typical fad diet, one that is just simply logical. I know when I am eating/drinking something that does not properly nourish my body. I know when I am consuming chemicals & preservatives that will make my stomach hurt later. So I am simply trying to do that less & less. 

3. Soul. Live an existence that is genuine & true to yourself. Bring good energy into your life with positivity & avoid spreading or encountering negativity. Live a life that makes you proud to be you!

This sounds like the most abstract one of all, but it’s really quite simple: just be a good person! 

Believe that by spreading good karma to others, you will also receive it yourself. Little kind gestures go a long way & negativity can physically make you sick. Know the difference & avoid situations, habits, or people that are no longer making a positive impact.

I began this post by highlighting just how much I feel I have changed as a person since I started this blog almost 4 years ago; however, I believe that these changes were catalyzed by an abrupt change of surroundings.

I had no choice but to change who I was as it was a direct adaptation of my new environment. 

However, I never want to stop changing. I want to keep meeting new people, keep gaining new perspectives & keep challenging my mindset to stretch & mold to new ways of thinking.

And dear readers, I think this all comes back to my passion: travel.

Travel will put me in these soul-shaping situations I have so desperately been craving.

In 2016 I will have the opportunity to travel to roughly six new international cities. 

In February I will head to Asia with my Grampy, in April I will head to The Netherlands & Scandinavia to visit Gillian & in the fall I will head with my family to Europe.

While seeing new places is exciting as a tourist, I am going to try my best to keep in mind my resolution & be open to any new global perspective or lifestyle these travels may bring. 

& You know I will be writing about it every step of the way!

Cheers to 2016 & cheers to a new year of exciting experiences! I hope you are all blessed with nothing but happiness, good health & new adventure!

JG 🙂