Imagine yourself hopping on a plane and flying to meet up with a group of students you don’t know in a country you’ve never seen before. Well that’s exactly what happened when I went on a study abroad trip to Iceland this summer.
Icelandic nature is pure and authentic and exactly the image of how the world “should” be. With rainbows arching over the sides of waterfalls, black sand beaches, and clear water fissures located between tectonic plates, Iceland is an Instagrammer’s dream.
But it’s not just the scenery that’s incredible. It’s how it positively affects everyone who experiences it.
There’s something about sitting out on rocks next to a river, looking at the sun set to your left and the shadow of a volcano to your right, while talking about life with a bunch of people you barely know. There’s something about laying in complete silence on the peak of a mountain, sharing intimate moments with people you just met.
The thing is: the backgrounds were not nearly as extraordinary as the people who came along with me. When I think back to my time abroad, I remember the people more than I remember the actual destination. Which led me to this remarkably simple conclusion: the people you’ll meet really are more important than the place you’ll go.
People Are More Memorable Than Souvenirs
So many people, including myself, live with so much clutter in their lives. Souvenirs are cool to show your friends when you return home, but little objects are so easily misplaced. You can lose a magnet from the town you visited but can you really forget that time you and your friends played “Never Have I Ever” while camping out by a glacier? From personal experience, I can confidently say no.
Perspective Changes From Person To Person
Don’t get caught inside your own little bubble. Everyone has a story — and they’re actually super interesting if you listen. From the people you’re traveling with to the people you meet at your destination, embrace the different cultures they represent. It makes you grateful for what you have. It makes you more open-minded and less ignorant to the world around you. Some stories are heart-warming while others are heart-wrenching. But no matter what, they all deserve to be heard.
You Need Someone To Remember All The Silly Things You Did
Let’s face it — it’s more fun taking pictures with someone. You don’t have to figure out how to make your hands look normal when you’re posing with another person. (I, for one, have not mastered that yet.) And candid photos are even better.
But still, there’s something about describing the wanderlust of an experience. You can capture a landscape with a camera, but your travel partners’ personalities are inexplicable. Your travel buddies are the only ones that completely understand and appreciate everything that happened on a trip. So when you have trouble explaining all of the good memories to those back home, you can reminisce with your travel buddies effortlessly.
Friends make you laugh a little louder and smile a little brighter. It doesn’t matter where you go. But travel and good times need to be shared.
Image via Taylor Thoman