As I write this entry, we are heading down the Tuscan highway to Roma. As I glance out through the windows at the endless countryside, I am reminded of a poem that became the driving force for my aspiration to travel. It is titled “Song of the Open Road,” by Walt Whitman. It deals heavily with the concept of pursuing one’s own happiness and receiving valuable life lessons and experiences through exploring the ‘outdoors’ or unknown. I happened upon the poem by chance, while doing research for an English class oral recitation a month before this excursion. Prior to the assignment and this trip, I had been captivated by the allure and romanticism of traveling, but I hadn’t yet discovered what it meant to me. Would it be an occasional, leisurely activity or a lifelong passion?
From what I have gathered about myself after scanning through the dozens of pages of the poem and beginning to reminisce on the last few weeks of our trip, traveling – particularly to Florence this summer – has taught me more about myself as an individual and what I intend to do with my life as I enter another stage in it. Living and adapting to foreign cultures, studying their arts and history, perusing the local delicacies, befriending locals, and basking in the country’s architectural beauty all seem like experiences I want to have again and again. Traveling has taught me how to be less apprehensive about trying new things, meeting new people, and breaking down personal barriers all in order to receive those life moments that never seem to stray away from your side, even years afterward.
With that said, I implore Rome during our next four days to provide us not only with sightseeing, but also the memorable experiences and lessons that only the open road can provide. Until next time, -Ethan