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viewpoint

Make it happen

| Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Until you make an effort to see the rest of the world, you can’t fully understand the beauty of what life has to offer. Everyone I have ever talked to has agreed with me when I tell them traveling is a remarkable experience. I don’t mean traveling from South Bend to Chicago or even Boston to Los Angeles. I’m talking about traveling the world and really involving yourself in the different cultures and environments you encounter.

It’s easy to say you understand the way other countries differ from ours, but do you really understand the difference if you’ve never traveled outside the United States? I don’t think you can. I’ve been on several trips to countries like Puerto Rico and Honduras since I was eight years old, but I never really understood how special it is to travel until I was given the opportunity to go to Italy when I was 17.

I didn’t think much of the trip before actually getting on the plane, but once I landed in Rome, I realized how special that particular trip was going to be.

I knew I wasn’t in my comfort zone because of how unfamiliar I was with where I traveled, but that’s the whole point. The adventure of walking in the unknown is what really opened my eyes. Being in the presence of historical locations really put into perspective how amazing traveling really is for me. Walking inside of the crumbling Colosseum, staring up at the Leaning Tower of Pisa and standing in the middle of Vatican City were some of the most surreal moments of my life. I went from reading about these places to sharing the same space with them.

In addition to viewing historical sites, talking to native Italians was one of my favorite parts about being abroad. Listening to some of their incredible stories about what they struggled with in terms of the country’s political and economic struggles and what they are enjoying about living in Italy was another surreal experience. These were people living on the other side of the world willing to share personal stories with me, a stranger from the U.S. I also had the chance to learn a bit of Italian, and although I didn’t actually learn how to speak it fluently, it was fun being able to learn some of the basic aspects of the language while sounding like a child whenever I spoke it on the streets.

What’s the point of me sharing this experience? I don’t have a lot of space to go into the specific details of my trip, but I was hoping to give those of you who haven’t traveled to other parts of the world a small glimpse of why it’s such an amazing and sometimes life-changing experience. Make the effort to get out of your comfort zone and go somewhere you’d never expect to visit, or even somewhere you never knew even existed. Don’t let life go by without going on your dream trip. Make it happen.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Manuel De Jesus

Manuel De Jesus is a junior from Chicago, Illinois. He is an American Studies major with a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. He is currently covering ND Volleyball, Men's Soccer and Men's Basketball.

Contact Manuel