So much time has been spent thinking about what countries I’d like to visit when my daughter and I take a ’round the world trip after she graduates. She asked a year or so ago to take a ‘gap year’ after high school ends. I’d never heard of a gap year before but now that I know what it is, I’m fully in favor of it and wish I had known about its existence when my first daughter was looking at going off to college. Devon was far too young to be leaving the nest. Her birthday is in late November so she was only 4 when she went to kindergarten and that meant she was only 17 when she left home in August to go to the University of Arizona. She called me all the time wanting to come home. I thought it would develop character for her to stay. After all, that’s what I had been taught. It was never suggested even once that skipping going to college directly from high school was even an option.
My husband had a gap year imposed on him by his college after he failed to achieve satisfactory grades in his first year. The University of New Mexico suggested he go mature a bit and then come back (or not) when he was ready.
All it took was a year working at Sears in the stocking department to inspire my husband to put his nose in his books and never look up again. He returned to the University and graduated without further incident. Nothing like a little reality injected to help maturity along, especially since his dad was a successful former Lieutenant Colonel in the Army, Nick couldn’t fail him. And after the Army, his dad was successful in being one of the first people to help put satellites in space. His name and picture are in Time Magazine and everything. Nick didn’t want to let his dad down so he graduated and started a successful career as a software engineer.
Fast forward 25+ years and his third daughter wants to take a self imposed gap year. I feel it’s better this way–it’s her choice rather than suffering the humiliation of getting kicked out of school. The good news is that I love to travel and traveling the world has always been a dream, so we don’t have to send her off on her own to backpack across Europe–I can be on her same trail. Sam wants me with her so I’m not putting myself in her plans without her blessing.
I had just started traveling (Spain, Portugal, the US from PA to CA) and then I met Nick. He didn’t like to travel, like I’ve mentioned in previous posts, and so I stayed home with him. In the beginning I didn’t mind because I was more used to not traveling than going anywhere but the funny thing is you can make the girl stop wandering but you can’t stop her mind from leaving. Traveling around the globe has been a dream for longer than I care to mention. I only hope that I’m able to handle the trip at my age. I’m not that old but I’m certainly nowhere near 23!
The homework for Find Your Awesome was to make a Rockin’ Life List and if you already had one, then you were to make progress on one of ideas on the list. I chose to make progress on the gap year travel. My only goal was to narrow down the countries my daughter and I plan to visit, so here they are:
- The Netherlands
- New Zealand
- Costa Rica
I promised in my last post that I would consult with my daughter about where she’d like to go but we’ve not been home together this whole weekend which makes communication difficult. If she has any additions or deletions from this list, I’ll let you know. For the record, some of these countries we are returning to because they’re favorites (England, Scotland, France, Wales, Italy, Greece, and Costa Rica) but the majority of these will be visited for the first time.
Missing from this list are China, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, and many other countries on continents like Africa and Australia. The biggest issue was discovering just how big the world is while looking on a map and realizing that we’re just not going to be able to get through the whole world. It’s funny to think that you’re going to travel the world, look at a map to narrow down a path, and see just how unrealistic seeing every country in the world in a year is. I think 27 countries is even too much and we may even slow the pace to spending 2 years abroad or eliminating some countries knowing we’ll get to them eventually in our lifetimes.
I know the final list will include: Scotland, England, Wales, Ireland, Italy, Spain, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, Finland, Poland, Hungary, Denmark, and Costa Rica but beyond that, if we’re too exhausted, we may end there and I will still consider it a success.
One little fun fact about this trip is that Finland made it to the list after watching this season’s most recent edition of The Bachelor. Without seeing the beauty firsthand, I don’t think we would have considered this winter wonderland. But beautiful is what it looks like in the coldest way imaginable. As a true lover of snow and winter, I’m excited to see if it’s as beautiful in person as it looked on TV.
Tomorrow’s homework from Find Your Awesome is to “Put myself on a t-shirt.” Essentially it’s summing myself up in a slogan and then putting that slogan on a t-shirt, or even multiple slogans. This is a fun homework to think about in that, in my interpretation, it could be the slogan for today only. Unlike tattoos, like Judy Clement Wall pointed out, t-shirts aren’t permanent. Perhaps that means I only have to come up with a t-shirt saying for today only. No long term commitments on this woman.
If you had to put yourself on a t-shirt, what would you say? Would it be a poem? Would it be a snappy political comment? Would it be song lyrics? How would you express yourself to the world by using only a t-shirt? Share in the comments below.