I have just returned from my summer travels in Croatia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Malaysia, and I am returning to school in Tuscaloosa in a week and a half. Traveling in Asia has even further expanded my understanding of the world and my own place in it. I thought that since I had just lived abroad and traveled Europe solo before, Asia would be much the same and not too much of a challenge. I was very wrong. Southeast Asia, or at least the places I traveled to, is completely different than anything I have ever seen. For the majority of the trip, I did not have AC or toilet paper, and I got pretty accustomed to living with bugs. The upside of all of this though, was that it was super cheap. Along the way, I also met some super cool people and shared some amazing experiences. It also showed me firsthand how comfortable we are in the US and how much we take for granted. People who are “poor” by our standards have so much more than the average person in some places in the world. Travel is the only way to experience and appreciate this.

Now that I’ve been away from Prague for two and a half months, I begin to forget that I lived there. The friends I made will always be close, but physically they are far away, which naturally is not conducive for remaining as tight as we were. This time interval has allowed me to honestly assess how I felt about Prague and if my opinion was biased by the honeymoon stage. I still think Prague is the best city in the world, and I would not hesitate to live there. My experience also helped me make decisions about where I want to live when I am out of college, and I have settled on a city somewhere where it is relatively cold most of the time, with the current prospects being Boston or perhaps Seattle. I’ve learned that I want to travel to places that are warm and almost all nature, such as islands or mountains, but I want the convenience of living in a city and the leisure of always being able to put on more layers. 

My time abroad, both in Prague and elsewhere in the world, has matured me greatly. I have become less judgmental of others, more appreciative of differences, more open-minded, and more able to make decisions and fully “adult.” Living in different cultures where people speak different languages forced me to be a more intelligent and mature person, and this is some of the most useful learning I’ve ever done. I’ve been constantly reminded of the Mark Twain quote, ““I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” To this end, I push all of my friends to travel, study abroad, or just expand their horizons. It is the best investment a person can make in themself.