Why I’m Not in Guatemala

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Remember when I first wrote about my Summer of Travel and announced that this summer I’ll visit Europe, California and Guatemala?

Well, change of plans: my trip to Guatemala is cancelled.

For many reasons, mostly due to bad timing, the church rescheduled the trip for November, which I won’t go on because I’ll be in school.

When I found out I had two very different reactions. My first reaction, as much as I hate to admit it, was relief.

After five weeks of non-stop travel in Europe, only six days of rest and then another two weeks in California, my body, soul and mind are just done.

I knew that another trip would leave me even more exhausted and not at all ready for the quickly approaching fall semester.

And I know this is my favorite topic lately, but I need time to process all that has happened this summer. My head is still spinning from events that took place in May! I need time to ponder, evaluate and unpack all that all that I’ve learned.

How did this experience change me? What does that change mean, and what does it practically look like to incorporate it into my daily life?

We have to process through experiences and feelings in order to make them more than mere sightseeing excursions. 

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Traveling is about more than seeing pretty places. It’s a beautiful way to learn and widen our view of the world, and when we aren’t treating it like an edifying journey, we cheapen our experience and waste frequent flyer miles.

When we give ourselves time to process everything we’ve seen and learnt, we can discover new truths about our beliefs and ourselves. Then, we can pack those truths into a metaphorical daypack (go with me) to carry around on the rest of our journey.

Our journey, whether it looks like traveling to distant lands or navigating daily life, can become connected. We don’t have to leave our incredible experiences in the past; longing for the day we can hop on another plane and set off on another incredible adventure.

You can continue your adventure right where you are by processing the experience and applying what you learned.

Don’t leave truths in the exotic places where you discovered them. Take them with you, and then, instead of constantly reminiscing and longing for your past adventures, you can live a thankful, present-minded life.

So friends, give yourself time to process your adventures. Look for lessons and find the hidden truths.

As much as I was looking forward to my trip to Guatemala, I’m thankful for the time to process and write through the most incredible summer of my life.

How do you process? What truths have you learned through your travels?

On Thursday I’ll talk about my second reaction to the cancelled trip: what to do when you lose an adventure. 

Photo Credit: Guatemalan volcanos from Anna Eaton; Florence, Italy by Haylee Robinson. 

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I Don’t Want to Explore Oxford

I wrote this piece last month while traveling through Europe for five weeks.

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I’m in Oxford, UK, and I don’t want to explore. Actually, exploring Oxford is the last thing I want to do right now.

Here’s the deal:
On a family trip to Colorado a few years ago, my mom and two brothers wanted to sit in a coffee shop and relax (I’ve heard it’s called “vacationing”), while my dad and I, ever the adventures, wanted to get out and see some of the beautiful state we were visiting.

So we left the lazy bums behind and headed to Black Canyon, which was covered in snow and SCARY slippery for us flatlanders. We almost died trying to see the view, but in the end we were left with a great memory.

From that moment on I’ve always poked fun at those who go to exotic places and choose to simply sit in a coffee shop or relax in their hotel rather than exploring.

Why would you waste your time doing nothing?

Well today, with one foot in my mouth, I’m writing this from a coffee shop in Oxford, UK, where I am simply sitting with no plans of exploring this quaint and historic university town.

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The C.S. Lewis nature reserve in Oxford

Usually I get up with the sun and hit the city, exploring as many streets as me feet can bear to take me down.

But today I can’t. Today, I’m tired. Really, really tired.

I’m tired of being on the go constantly, tired of a strict itinerary and, as much as I hate to say it, tired of sightseeing.

Today I need to rest, and more than that, I need to be okay with giving myself that luxury, even though it’s against every part of my nature.

Two things I’m trying to keep in mind:

1. I don’t need to see every site, learn every historical fact or take every artsy Instagram picture I can to experience all that a city has to offer.
2. If I want to keep traveling, keep sightseeing and keep up this pace, I need to take a break.

Although my schedule allows me to see amazing sights and experience even more of Europe than I even imagined, it isn’t sustainable. And it’s okay to give myself time to catch up.

IMG_6711And hey, if there’s anywhere I’m going to just sit in a coffee shop, read and write, what better place than Oxford? Some of my favorite authors spent time in this very city doing exactly what I’m doing today.

So, to anyone I’ve ever mocked or looked down upon for relaxing instead of exploring, I’m sorry. While I still don’t think spending an entire trip on your bum is the way to go, I now recognize that rest and rejuvenation are more than necessary to keep going.

And PS, I did end up exploring Oxford once my weary little soul was rested, and I loved it! Definitely a trip highlight that I wouldn’t have enjoyed if I was still exhausted.

How do you find rest when you’re traveling? Any tips for this newbie? 
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My 5 Favorite College Cosmopolitans

Today I want to introduce you to a few of my favorite people. There are friends who one way or another, embody what it means to be a college cosmopolitan. If you haven’t already, read about what The College Cosmopolitan is all about here.

Caroline K

Caroline KI’ve lived with Caroline for my entire college career. Little did I know when we were randomly assigned as roommates that I’d gain a same-named best friend. More than that, she’s my confidant, biggest cheerleader and the girl I can question life with.

She also embodies a cosmopolitan lifestyle because of her beautifully simplistic, yet full, way of life.
She also doesn’t ask for much, but yet she is open and vulnerable when she needs to be.

She makes her own way and grapples with questions until she’s found her own satisfying answers. In the past three years, she’s gained the ability to accept everyone no matter their lifestyle, and that’s a trait that I think could take her all over the world.

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My friend Jenna is the queen of pushing herself outside of her comfort zone.

She spent a summer studying in Oxford, England in high school before moving thousands of miles away from her hometown in Texas to Malibu, California for college.

After a year in Malibu, she dove head first into a year long study abroad program in Florence, Italy. Talk about a citizen of the world!

I love catching up with Jenna when we’re both home in Texas and hearing stories from her travels. With each new adventure there is an evident change that takes place inside of her. She grows, transforms and becomes more herself each time she explores another piece of the world.

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My younger brother Zach is making West Texas laugh a little harder, one stand-up comedy routine at a time.

He moved away from our suburban paradise of a hometown last year to the crux of small town Texas: Lubbock. And he loves it!

He’s truly made a home for himself in his college town, and even though he’s only a freshman he’s pioneered several new comedy initiatives at his school. He definitely isn’t afraid to put himself out there. He also lived in the Middle East for three months. No big deal.

MarshMarshall

This ever-so-handsome guy that I’m dating is a great example of a cosmopolitan.

He spent three months studying abroad in the UK this past semester, and even though his time was limited, he still got involved in a church and experienced life as a local when he went on a weekend retreat with the college group.

Along with pretty pictures of historic places and souvenirs, he returned to the US with new friends and a broader understanding of the people that make up our world.

DebDeborah

Deborah inspires me as a college cosmopolitan not because she moved out of state for college, or even that she spent a semester studying in Vienna, Austria (although that is pretty dang awesome), but because after high school she chose to take a year off and stay home, and she rocked it.

She had plenty of options after graduation, but she chose the one that would prepare her best for her future, and after a year of nannying she was able to pay for her entire first year of college.

What I love most about her story is that in that year, even though she wasn’t in a new place, she grew. She met new people and experienced things for the first time in her own hometown.

She embodied what it means to grow where you’re planted. She didn’t need anything but time and a little space to look inside of her and figure out who she is.

Who are the cosmopolitans in your life? Tell me about them! 

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I’m in Redding! …or, What To Do When You Have No Clue How You Got Here

So….Europe. Wow, Europe.

I touched ground in America just six short days ago, but right now I’m not writing to you from home, where I would normally be resting, cuddling with puppies and spending time with my family. Instead I’m sitting on a grey love seat in a house I’ve rented with five roommates in Redding, California for the next two weeks.

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How did I get here? And why so fast?
The honest answer is this: I don’t know.

I know that I’ve wanted to come to Bethel Church’s Worship U for awhile now, but I still couldn’t quite tell you why. I lead worship for years growing up, but then I went to college and church got hard (you can read my church story here), so I’m not currently on a worship team.

But still, when the opportunity came up to attend the two week school this summer, I knew I had to take it. Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever just known  you’re suppose to be somewhere, do something or act in someway?

I know I need to be here.

So even though I’m exhausted, and I’ve barely been able to process the incredible and overwhelming past five weeks, I’m here. And I’m so excited.

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I’m excited to learn about songwriting, playing keys in a worship band and leading others into the presence of God. I’m excited to share the next two weeks with my five wonderful roommates and figure out what we are all doing here together. I’m excited to find rest in the midst of a hectic schedule. I’m excited to let the Lord revive my heart for worship.

I’m so excited for this season, even if I’m barely keeping up with the pace.

Friends, if you don’t know how you got to be where you are, get excited about it anyway. Realize that there is a reason you’re there, and you never know how or when your life can change.

“If you have no mystery in your life you are reducing your God to the same level of understanding as you.” -Bill Johnson

Let God surprise you, and enjoy the crazy, messy, confusing and mysterious ride.

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Travel Adventures: Greece in Photos

GREECE – the next stop on my five week European adventure! I can’t even begin to describe all of the sites I saw in Greece, so instead I’ll show you.

But for fun, here are a few highlights: I danced with the Greeks, made animal friends, had a view of the Acropolis from my hotel, beached on Santorini Island & Crete, stood where St. Paul stood on Mars Hill and in Ancient Corinth, shopped till I dropped, ate gyros…lots of them, discovered the beauty of GREEK frozen yogurt, let fish eat at my feet, slept on a ferry boat, saw so many ancient ruins I began to wonder why I wasn’t wearing a toga, danced on the port of Crete, hiked to the top of Santorini Island and Ancient Delphi and finally, I said goodbye to my school friends and met up with my sister-in-law and mom to begin the second leg of this wonderful adventure.

Greece, I love you.
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Next stop: Paris!Blog signature

Travel Adventures: Italy in Photos

Hi friends!

I can’t believe I’m already in my fourth week here in Europe, yet at the same time my first week back in Italy feels like months ago. I’ve struggled to find time to write on this trip, but it’s somewhat of a happy struggle because I’ve had such wonderful, full days soaking up every bit of Europe I can.

So for now I thought I’d go way back to my first week in Italy and share some of my favorite photos. Check out snaps from my time in Rome and Florence below and stay tuned for similar photo stories from Greece, Paris, England and Ireland!
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Photo Credit: Haylee Robinson and my trusty iPhone.
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How to Prepare for Your Next Great Adventure

Have you participated in #MySummerAdventure yet? Check it out here!

By the time you read this I’ll be jet-lagged somewhere in Rome, aimlessly snapping pictures of everything I see.

next adventureRight this minute, I’m on the greatest adventure of my life thus far: backpacking Europe. This week I’m in Italy. Next week I’ll be in Greece. The weeks following will see me in France, England and Ireland.

Not only is this the greatest adventure of my life so far, but it’s also one of the craziest, and it took a lot of preparation. I’m not just talking about getting a passport, calling my credit card provider or neatly fitting clothes for five weeks into one suitcase.

An adventure like this takes preparation on deeper levels. Here’s what I did to prepare myself mentally, physically, financially and spiritually.

Mentally:

I thought about this trip a lot. That sounds dumb, but in the last few months, Europe has weighed heavily on my mind. When I think about the places I will see, people I will meet and crazy backpacking experiences I will have, I still can’t grasp it all.

I’ve finally decided that thinking about it all the time won’t actually prepare be for being there, and in many aspects, I’ll just have to wait and see what happens. Now I am mentally open and ready to embrace that whatever happens on this trip, despite my own plans, just happens.

Physically:

I did the Whole30 as a way to “reset” my body and gain healthy habits. I’ll definitely think of these habits while I’m in Europe, but I also know that I’ll need to be flexible and experience the culture (nice to meet you, gelato).

I also started doing Pilates, Yoga and Zumba to prepare my body for the physical demands of backpacking.

My roommate and I started doing Zumba videos in our living room, and make fun of us all you want, but it’s a killer workout! In February I did 28 Days of Pilates with Robin Long from The Balanced Life. I’ve kept up with her videos since then too, and I love them. Pilates is definitely my new favorite way to work out, and I love Robin’s balanced perspective on fitness.

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Financially:

I’ll be honest with you on this one, I didn’t do much in the way of saving money. But that’s mostly because I’m not a huge spender as it is. I rarely buy more than food and gas, with a splurge every once in a while. I worked an on campus job this semester, but yet, with my unpaid internship 30 miles away, rent and groceries, expenses got a little high.

Thankfully my trip to Europe is covered; however, my trip to Guatemala in July is not. If you’d like to support that trip financially, you can do so here. No pressure though – that’s definitely not my reason for sharing this with you! If anything, I learned to live on the most realistic budget I can, and trust that the rest will be provided for in time.

Spiritually:

I’ve heard so many stories from friends about going to Europe and coming home with new revelations, insights and closer relationships with the Lord. I’m praying that I’ll have a similar experience, but I also don’t want my experience to look like anyone else’s, so I’m praying for openness.

I want to have an open heart, eyes and mind to all the things the Lord wants to reveal to me on this trip.

Throughout the semester I also tried to maintain an attitude of thankfulness. I’ll be brutally honest and tell you that my spiritual life was a little rocky this past spring. There were times when I felt the Lord was closer than a brother, and other times when he felt more like a distant relative. But despite that struggle, I still know that I have so much to be thankful for.

He is making some of my wildest dreams come true this summer, and I couldn’t be more grateful for this incredible gift. I can’t wait to see how our relationship develops throughout this European adventure.


So now, after months of anticipation, I’m just ready to go. Who knows how prepared I can really be, but I’m ready to begin.

See you soon, Europe!

Are you embarking on a great adventure soon? I challenge you to think of ways to prepare yourself in these four categories. While you’re at it, share your thoughts and methods with me in the comments!
Photo by Haylee Robinson
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What Are You Doing This Summer? Share Your Adventures With Me!

If you haven’t already, read about my upcoming summer adventures here.

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I’m leaving in just two short days for Europe! I’m so excited, and instead of freaking out about how much I have left to get done in the next few days, I wanted to propose something to you.

This summer is going to be the biggest adventure of my life.

Maybe your summer looks even more exciting than mine, or maybe it doesn’t. Either way, I want these next few months to be an adventure for you, too.

Not every summer can we pack our bags for three months and travel the world. The opportunities came along for me this year, so I took them. But I know there will be summers when life isn’t this exciting.

I’m sure there will be summers when I’ll have to work and stay in one place. But when those summers come, I will do everything I can to make sure they are still an adventure.

And that’s what I want you to do.

I want you, no matter where you are, to make this summer an adventure.

Smoky Mountain ziplining!

Are you working at home this summer? Use your time off to explore your hometown! Discover things around you that you never knew existed, and who knows what you could find.

Are you traveling this summer? Make the most of it. Choose joy even when you’re tired, and cherish every moment.

Lastly, I want you to share your adventures with me. Tell me what you’re doing. I want The College Cosmopolitan to become a community of people, both men and women, who find adventure wherever they are.

Document your adventures this summer. Take pictures, make videos and write about your favorite moments. Then send them to me.

I want nothing more than to have a collection of adventures in my inbox all summer long. Let’s make this corner of the Internet interactive. Let’s start sharing and create a community of cosmopolitans.

People go on crazy journeys all the time and often don’t get the chance to share their stories as fully as they’d like to. I want this blog to be a place where you can exhaust your stories and give them what they deserve.

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Are you in? Email your stories to me with the subject “My Summer Adventure,” or post them onto The College Cosmopolitan Facebook page. Also, how about we start a hashtag? Tag your Insta/Twitter/Facebook photos with #MySummerAdventure {and be sure to tag me!}

Besides that there are no rules. Just find adventure. Whether you are in your hometown or serving in Cambodia, like my roommate, I want to hear about how you are making the most of this summer.

Give your stories what they deserve. Share them with me, and hey, maybe I’ll share them with others here on the blog!

Let’s see what we can get ourselves into this summer.
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This Summer: Want to Come on an Adventure with Me?

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I’ve got a bit of news to share with you today. Really, really exciting news!

This summer is my summer of travel. 

It’ll start with five weeks in Europe. For two weeks I’ll study abroad with my school (and Haylee!) in Italy and Greece, and for three weeks I’ll backpack through the UK with my mom and sister-in-law. Talk about a dream come true!

After I return from Europe I’ll have a few days at home before flying off to Redding, California for a two week long worship training school at Bethel Church. I’m am so beyond excited for this opportunity, and if I’m honest, a little intimidated.

I’ve always wanted legit worship leading training. I led worship for my church in high school because, well, I was the only option and could play keyboard decently well. I loved the experience, so I’m thrilled to have actual training under my belt {with Brian and Jenn Johnson!}, even though I’m nervous.

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circa 2010

After California I’ll have another week home before heading to Guatemala with my church. We’ll be holding an International Leaders School of Ministry for pastors and missionaries on the field. Our heart is to minister to the spiritual leaders of the nation so that they can better pour into the people of Guatemala.

If you’re interested, you can help fund my trip to Guatemala here. I appreciate any and all support!

I’ll return from Guatemala on August 6 and head back to Tennessee for my senior year of college. And that’s my summer! Crazy.

I am aware that I am incredibly blessed to have even one of these incredible opportunities come my way. The fact that all three of them are working out completely floors me.

Thanks to the beauty of scheduled posts, I will still have fresh blogs for you twice a week.

I will also pop in with quick updates from my travels as often as I can, and once I’m back at school I’ll write more about my experiences. But if you want to keep track of me over the summer daily, be sure to follow me on Twitter & Instagram.

I’m so excited for the adventure that this summer will be, and I want to take The College Cosmopolitan community along the ride with me.

What does your summer look like? How are you finding adventure?
Photo by Haylee Robinson.
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Goals//Dreams//Experiences (Inspired by Haylee)

The other night I reblogged my roommate’s post about her goals for the next five years. If you haven’t yet, read her post here.

I was so inspired by her post that I decided to make my own lists! Check out my career, travel, spiritual and adventure goals for the next five years:

Career Goals:
Chatter–Land an amazing internship in Washington D.C.
–Get a job at a magazine when I graduate from college
–Report on international events and social justice issues
–Grow my blog and reach larger audiences as a resource for all things adventure and lifestyle
–Write a story that gets picked up by multiple publications around the world
Continue to write about people and their fascinating stories

europeTravel goals:

–Visit Europe (happening in 50 days!!)
Go back to Australia
–Guatemala (happening in 110 days!!)
–Go on a cruise / go to the Caribbean
–Go on mission trips
–Road trip across America
–Take any and all traveling opportunities that come my way

Spiritual goals:
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–Gain a mentor and maintain a constant relationship with her
–Deepen my relationship with the Lord daily; constantly seeking, growing and stretching myself to be more like Him
Get more involved in a church
–Lead worship
–Surround myself with an uplifting community of fellow believers
–Give Christ’s love away to everyone I encounter, whether on mission trips or in daily life
–Attend a Bethel Church worship school (happening this summer!!!)

Adventure Goals:
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Move to a big city for a few years
–Explore a town or city enough until I’m a walking, talking tour guide (but not an annoying one)
–Find adventure everywhere around me, no matter where I am
–Go to a trampoline park (which is actually happening TONIGHT!)
–Become an avid hiker (and hike everywhere I can with Haylee)
–Go skydiving
–Read 1-2 books a month (if you don’t think reading is an adventure, you’re reading the wrong books)

I could come up with adventure goals for hours, but I’ll stop here for your sake. What are your goals and dreams for the next five years?