Hello everyone! I’m Steph. If you didn’t know already, well…I am a lover of all things travel and I wanted to start this blog to share my passion for travel with people like you!
“Wanderlust: n. a strong desire for or impulse to wander or travel and explore the world”
Where did it all begin?
I grew up in the land of cheese heads, AKA Wisconsin and have always had a yearning to explore the world outside of the Midwest. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a family that loved to travel and drag me on road trips as a kid. Although I wasn’t too fond of nature and long drives as an adolescent, I have thankfully grown out of that stage! (I am especially grateful for no more car sickness!)
Besides the Caribbean, I hadn’t spent much time outside of the intercontinental United States until I was a sophomore in college. I knew that I wanted to study abroad during my undergrad, but it was a matter of convincing my parents to let me travel that far alone. One study abroad fair later, I was throwing dozens of brochures in my parents’ faces. After several conversations, I eventually convinced them to let me go and I committed myself to a semester in Florence, Italy at Lorenzo de Medici.
As cliché as it sounds, this first study abroad experience completely changed my life and sparked my addiction to travel.
Although I loved living in Florence, I was eager to explore the rest of Europe as well. I spent the majority of my weekends traveling to other parts of Italy, and 6 other countries. Yes there were times I became homesick, but I learned to adapt. While I was in Italy (and traveling around), I learned a lot about myself, became much more independent than when I started college, discovered the beauty and history of different cultures, and developed lifelong friendships.
Upon my return to college, I was yearning for another study abroad opportunity, but unfortunately was limited once I began the business school program that fall. There were only a few short-term study abroad options for business students and none of them were in my budget or interests… That was until a new program launched in Germany and my university was recruiting students to participate as ‘guinea pigs’ for a rather low program fee. After somehow convincing my parents to let me study abroad again, I hopped on a plane and flew to Germany to take part in a sustainability seminar in partnership with a company called Viessmann. This experience opened my eyes in a completely different way than my semester in Florence.
When I got back from Germany, I was grateful to start my very first internship, and it just so happened to be with the study abroad office on campus. I was responsible for planning our entire study abroad fair, which allowed me to combine my passion for study abroad with my creative marketing background. I had such an amazing time and learned so much!
The combination of my experiences in Italy, Germany, and interning with the study abroad office, truly changed my outlook on what my future career might entail. Enough so, that I started to think that maybe I should work abroad after college.
I started to search for job opportunities outside of the US prior to graduation, and was really struggling. Personally, I didn’t want to be an Au Pair (nanny) at all and didn’t care to work within government, which left me pretty limited and at a standstill in my search process. Although I didn’t completely give up, I decided to focus my applications elsewhere in the US for the time being. I spent 6 months after graduation searching for the perfect job. I really didn’t want to settle for just anything and I also didn’t want to stay in Wisconsin or the Midwest (sorry Mom and Dad). I yearned for something new, fresh, exciting and warmer weather too!
I spent my time driving around the state of Wisconsin to work several part time jobs (marketing internship, floral designer, catering server, promo gigs, and even some consulting projects), and eventually moved back into my parent’s house. I honestly felt a bit like a failure because I really never wanted to resort to moving back home due to lack of finances and a career. I beat myself up a lot, felt like giving up, and nearly just packed my bags to move to Austin, Texas in hopes of landing a job where employers would actually consider looking at my resume because I physically lived there (many recruiters told me to contact them once I moved, as they didn’t consider out of state candidates). That was until a little encouragement and faith from my loved ones, luck, and a whole lot of persistence, changed everything.
“If you’re twenty-two, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel – as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them – wherever you go.” – Anthony Bourdain (may he rest in peace & the world live vicariously through his memories)
Right before I moved back home, my former colleague at the study abroad office forwarded a job opening in Sydney, Australia with one of their clients. I applied for the job on a whim. Three interviews and several months later, I was offered the opportunity if a lifetime. I got the job! Although my parents were excited and definitely sad to have me move far away, I knew that this was the best thing for me at the time. I packed my bags, and spent the most amazing 10 months of my life living in the ‘Land Down Unda’ working for an international education/study abroad company in the heart of Sydney. I learned so much about adapting to a new lifestyle and culture, working in international business, and gaining a newfound sense of independence that I never knew I had inside of me.
Thanks to visa restrictions in Australia, I had to relocate back to the US and began working at my company’s Chicago office (which I knew upon accepting the offer). I miss Australia every day, but am so thankful and grateful for the opportunity that I had to live in such a treasure of a city and befriend some of the most incredible people. I’ll spare you all the long details about my time in Sydney for now, because I definitely will be posting about it on my blog!
Before moving back to the US, I embarked on my first solo trip to the exotic island of Bali. Yet again, this was another place and experience that completely changed my life. Since then, I have traveled to Peru and the Galapagos Islands on my own, in addition to a few places around the US; and do not plan on stopping anytime soon. I can confidently say that people do call me a bit crazy for traveling solo as a female, but hey, it’s definitely taught me the importance of independence and utilizing the resources that you have! Everything works out in the end right?
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”― Mark Twain
The world is such a beautiful place and truly is a playground for learning outside of the classroom. I encourage you to take a leap of faith and explore outside of your comfort zone-travel to places that aren’t always the ‘most popular’ destinations. It took me a while to break out of my bubble of comfort, but I can tell you that you won’t regret it!
I am hoping that this blog provides a bit of inspiration to not only never give up on your dreams and goals, but to develop a similar sense of passion for travel. This is my invite to you. Join me in reaching wanderlust.