3 Reasons to Visit a Place You Have No Desire to Go to
Your experience may surprise you
Confession: I had absolutely no aspirations of a trip to Scotland. Zero. Zilch. None. By this time, I had been studying in Ireland for almost three months and I was long since over the rainy weather of my current homeland and assumed it would be the same in the neighboring country. And what did Scotland really have to offer me anyway? I was more interested in crossing other countries off my travel to-do list. I wanted to see the Northern Lights in Iceland, take a thermal bath in Hungary, possibly skydiving in Switzerland! Faster than I could say “no” I was somehow convinced to add a flight to Edinburgh to my credit card. And honestly, it was the one of the best decisions I have ever made.
1. Don’t judge a book by its cover
This old adage is something to keep in mind throughout life, and really rings true in terms of travel. What I had pictured when I thought of Scotland was a lot of grass and plaid. “Big whoop” I thought to myself. This place seemed beyond boring. But honestly, there was so much to do – my group and I needed four nights instead of three! Between Edinburgh castle, Arthur’s Seat, the Royal Mile and High Tea, the ghost tours, the shopping, I am surprised we managed to accomplish it all. Besides the numerous activities, the scenery and historical buildings and architecture were stunning. It was absolutely not what I had originally pictured, and I was pleasantly surprised at how my early prejudices were proven wrong!
2. If your friend jumped off a bridge, would you do the same?
Keeping with the theme of clichés, it may seem that all of your friends’ social media websites are completely littered with pictures of ‘typical’ study abroad experiences. It is not unheard of to have three people in succession post pictures of themselves in a thermal bath in Budapest. Sure it’s fun, but also no longer unique. Consider going somewhere no man or woman has gone before. Somewhere off the beaten path. You can have an experience that is uniquely your own- there are no expectations set by others. For instance in Edinburgh, we stumbled upon the Frankenstein Bar. I don’t know about you, but I can honestly say that I have never met anyone who has frequented a bar solely dedicated to Frankenstein. We made our own memories and felt no pressure to go here or there and see this or that because of expectations others may have had for us. Best of all, you get to fill your friends in on a country they may have never considered traveling to; and you just might inspire them to visit it themselves.
3. We have the most fun when we least expect it
When we have absolutely zero expectations for something is when we are very often pleasantly surprised. Think back to events that you weren’t quite sure that you wanted to attend, or nights that you just didn’t feel like going out. These are probably some of your favorite memories that you continue to fondly look back on today. It is when expectations are high that we find ourselves more open to disappointment. This logic can be easily be applied to the places we travel. One of my favorite memories from my entire time abroad was climbing Arthur’s Seat in the pouring rain with 10mph winds added for effect. My friends and I had accidentally taken the longer route and were basically crawling on our hands and knees to reach the top. We were soaked and muddy, but laughing the entire time. We were so proud of ourselves for reaching the top that we hadn’t noticed that the skies had cleared. If I had not taken a chance on a trip to Scotland, I certainly would not have that memory to cherish not only for today, but for the rest of my life. Who knows- maybe your favorite memory will be from a country you had originally overlooked or intended to bypass altogether.
Keeping these three reasons in mind, know that it is a wonderful thing to step outside your comfort zone. Go somewhere you never really considered, or never really wanted to visit. Close your eyes and point somewhere on a map if you really want to get adventurous. Lifelong memories and experiences are scattered throughout the world, we just have to be courageous enough to create them.