Alternatives to Souvenir Shops

The word ‘souvenir’ comes from the French word ‘to remember’ and that’s exactly what they are meant to do; remind us of travels, places, and people we’ve met along the way.

There are different kinds of souvenirs, ranging from the generic ‘I ❤️ Whatever City’, to ones that are more specific to the region, and finding the perfect one is a fun way to spend a day. While I can’t tell you where to spend your money, I will share some reasons why souvenir shops may not be the best way to shop for a momento.

Problems with Souvenir Shops

I currently work at a souvenir shop part-time to help me cover my expenses while I’m living and studying in Copenhagen. It has been eye-opening and has made me reevaluate how I feel about these shops, so much that I’ve changed how I make purchases while I’m abroad. I have become more critical about them, and although I work at one, I can support alternatives in my private life.

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Souvenir shop on Stroget, the busiest pedestrian street

#1 Not Local
The majority of the items sold at these shops are not from the country you are visiting. Most items are usually mass produced in factories in places like China, Bangladesh, or Taiwan, and are both cheaply made and marked up six times the cost to produce them. The reality is that these items only have value once they are in their selling destination! It’s more apparent when you think about a Chinese tourist who travels to the destination on vacation, buys the product, then returns with the product made in China, back to China.

#2 Not Unique
Customers often want souvenirs to remind them of their special visit, but souvenir shops often carry similar items. If you go to a Danish souvenir shop, you find items that aren’t relevant to Denmark and belong to other countries. Norwegian trolls, Swedish Dala horses, German beer steins, and Dutch “kissing couple” porcelain figures can all be found in a Danish souvenir shop, despite being from elsewhere. Not only are irrelevant souvenirs often found, but generic ones are too. A t-shirt that says “I ❤️ Copenhagen” doesn’t say anything about what is special about the city and the same t-shirt can be found in any major city of the world.

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Main tourist area in the city center

#3 Lots of packaging
My biggest pet peeve working at a souvenir shop is all the extra packaging included with the products. A small statue comes wrapped in bubble wrap with styrofoam padding inside a cardboard box. When a customer purchases it, we pack it in the same bubble wrap and paper to keep it from breaking. Although we re-use a lot of the packaging and recycle boxes, it kills me to see how much we throw away (although I’m sure this is true for most retail shops).

Packing Pro Tip:
Many customers prefer to have us wrap their items instead of packing it themselves, but using what you already have in your suitcase, like sweaters or socks, is the best packaging! Once you are back home you can unwrap your items and no extra bulk was needed.

 

Alternatives

Below are a few alternatives to typical souvenir shops and rules I try to follow when I’m traveling.

#1 Candies and Snacks: A cheap and simple idea is to go to the grocery store and buy candies or snacks that aren’t found in your home country. Since it’s coming from the grocery store, it ensures that it will be more local or traditional. If you’re traveling to several countries, you can find a wide varieties of snacks. Food items from other places is fun to shop for and to eat!

#2 Domestic Product: This is an idea I got from my best friend while we were in Mexico. She was aware of what American products were doing to the market in Mexico and she always encouraged me to “consume national products”, whether it was choosing Boing drinks over Coca-Cola or Panam shoes over Nike. This is something I’ve tried to do in every country I go to. I look into what are some local brands and shops, and eat or shop there instead of well known places that are also found back home.

To do this I recommend researching what is popular or common in whatever country you are going to. I also spend the first few days paying attention to my surroundings, how it’s decorated, and looking for patterns. I don’t buy anything at first until I can tell the difference between what is “touristy”, and what someone from that country would buy and use.

#3 Jewelry: This can be very unique depending on where you are in the world because of different metals, stones, and techniques Even within one country, you can find differences in jewelry and support local artisans and their traditions.. It’s  lightweight and easy to pack, and  things like bracelets which can be worn while you travel. However, be mindful of the working conditions of the artisans and purchase fair trade items when you can.

#4 Avoid Obvious Souvenirs: If something says “France” or “Paris” on it, chances are that a local wouldn’t buy it. I never really understood why someone would buy an item with a place’s name on it. I feel like it ruins an item and it seems like bragging about being somewhere. I rather have items that I genuinely like and use everyday that I bought somewhere else than items on display on a shelf collecting dust. The only exceptions are collections like pins or magnets that are really popular. Although I personally don’t collect items that way, I understand the appeal of collecting.

#5 Buy Something You Need: This is the guiding principle to all my personal souvenir shopping. If I am going to a different country and I need something, then I’ll take advantage of being somewhere new to buy what I’m lacking. When I was in Turkey I bought enamel and ceramic dishes from a furniture design shop because I needed some for my apartment. I try my best to buy what I need for two reasons. First, these items could come from natural or synthetic resources that can possibly contribute to worldwide problems like pollution or deforestation. Second, I move around a lot and everything I possess travels with me so I have to be mindful of what I own. For my lifestyle it’s best to have a few items that are useful.

 

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A variety of Scandinavian retro ceramics

All of these alternatives require time, research, and possibly trips to many different shops to find the perfect gift or souvenir. Souvenir shops are convenient because they are usually located in the city center so if a tourist has difficulty walking or doesn’t have much time, it is better to visit shops in a central location. If you happen to be in that situation; I would recommend going to gift shops inside museums. They usually do a better job at selling traditional items or at least country specific items than a souvenir shop on the street. Often times museums sell items related to the topic of the museum which lends itself to being more unique.

If you are traveling to a new place soon, I hope you got some good ideas for your next souvenir purchase!

 

Searching for a Piece of Latin America

I spent the previous year in Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia. I’ve spent the last 8 months in Copenhagen, Denmark and enough time has passed for me to start feeling a little homesick, however my homesickness is a mixture of many homes. It’s a soft kind of homesickness that motivates me to search for anything related to Virginia/the US, Mexico, Ecuador, or anything Central or South American. It’s easy to find food and activities

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American food aisle

related to the US here. Grocery stores often have an “American food” section and chains like Starbucks are found across the city. However, finding anything related to Latin America is much more difficult.

 

When it comes to food, I’ve had very little success. Most of the time when you see the words “Authentic Mexican”, it will be Tex-Mex. Although I enjoy a huge plate of Tex-Mex food, I haven’t had anything impressive. There have been two instances where I’ve been close to finding something close to Mexican food. The first was at a taco stand at Papirøen (a indoor food market) where I ordered two quesadillas. The two guys working the stand were from Mexico and one guy grew up in Coyoacan, one of my favorite neighborhoods in Mexico City. The guys were friendly but their friendliness didn’t make up for the terrible quesadillas. They were small and overpriced and I’m sure they knew it too because they

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Danish Tex-Mex

gave me a discount without me even asking for one. I’m sure their tacos and quesadillas are great for Danes, however I was not pleased. A few weeks later I came across a little food truck spot where there was a truck selling tacos and sopes. I decided to try a sope because I figured it would be impossible to ruin one. Well, I was wrong. I sat down at a bench and took a bite. The sope was as hard as a rock! I bit so hard that all the toppings fell off. I ate what I could and hurried out of there.

 

I haven’t found any Ecuadoran, Peruvian, or any other Latin American food. However there is a Latin American market every first Sunday of a month and I’ll try and make my way to one of them. Although I’m not an impressive cook, I rather get a hold of some ingredients and cook some dishes myself.

Where I definitely have found some success in in the music scene. Copenhagen boasts an impressively diverse music scene for such a small city. Not too long ago I saw Sonido Gallo Negro perform at a venue down the street from where I live. I also had the chance to see IMG_1691them in 2014 in Mexico City. Dengue Dengue Dengue also came recently and their concert was sold out before I could get tickets! Bomba Estereo has even played in Copenhagen for free at an outdoor concert. They, along with Ana Tijoux, will be in Denmark in July to play at a well known festival called Roskilde. Also, I’ve heard reggaeton and bachata being blasted out of boomboxes once in a while. There are several salsa clubs but I’m an awful salsa dancer so I’ve stayed away. I’m sure there will be plenty more opportunities to hear some great music during the summer months.

But what I miss the most is the friendliness and hospitality I saw while I was in Latin America. There were many instances where I was lost and instead of just getting help I got a great conversation and heard good stories. The openness and friendliness is what attracted me the most because I’m a shy person but being in such an environment helps me loosen-up. Danes are friendly but they aren’t open. They rarely initiate conversations and they stick IMG_1689to themselves. If you want to befriend a Dane, you’ll have to put in a lot of work. It is a little exhausting and it makes me miss being in a place where people’s social skills are much better than mine.

Overall when it comes to food I’m a little homesick here. When it comes to music I’m pretty content. I think Danes aren’t really aware of what Latin America is or has to offer. I’ve met a several Danes who have traveled around Latin America and while they’ve enjoyed their travels, it hasn’t translated into a broader understanding of the complex continent’s culture.

 

International Love Life

I enjoy dating guys when I’m abroad. When I’m home, in the US, I’m seldom in a relationship or go on dates. Not that there is something wrong with American boys, I just prefer to date abroad for many reasons.

My current boyfriend is Danish, we live in Copenhagen, and we met in Mexico. Before him my last boyfriend was Peruvian and we met in Spain. My first boyfriend abroad was someone I met in India while I was studying abroad. Each relationship taught me something new about cross-cultural relationships. Although I do think it’s fun, it isn’t without its own set of challenges. Below are some pros and cons that I’ve come across while dating.

Pro #1: Your family is far away

This makes dating so much easier. When your family is nearby, there is a higher chance of them getting in your business. When it comes to boys, I never share details about them to my family until we are in a relationship or at least spending a considerable amount of time together. Also, introducing your partner to your family is “the next step” in my opinion. Having your family far means that your partner isn’t meeting your family any time soon and you can enjoy the beginning stage of a relationship without worrying about it getting serious too soon.

Even more important, your family is far enough that they can’t embarrass you in front of your partner. My current boyfriend is the only one that has met my mom and sister. They both managed to embarrass me in front of him. While we were eating lunch my younger sister kept making jokes and dissing me. I didn’t tell her to stop because she was on fire with her jokes, and even though they were about me, I still enjoy a good joke. But that meant the car ride home was a soundtrack of jokes on me. Even worse was my mom who mortified me with one simple question. She asked him what his family’s religion was and when he answered, she was so pleased that she did a little victory dance. I was beyond mortified because I knew that in that moment my mother was beginning to plan our wedding and married life together. Something I avoid thinking about.

Pro #2: It’s an opportunity to learn about a different culture

From my experience, boyfriends are excited to share their culture. I think they learn a lot about their own culture too because they watch how a foreigner interacts or reacts with something they are accustomed to. They might be surprised to see what kinds of things are notable to a foreigner. For example, my boyfriend told me that Danish toddlers give up their pacifiers to a tree. Parents collect them and have their child help them tie it to the tree. Afterwards the toddler is considered a “big kid” and doesn’t need a pacifier anymore. I was awed by the tradition because it encourages kids to think outside themselves and realize that all kids go through the same difficulties. Also, that their beloved pacifiers aren’t theirs anymore because it then belongs to the tree. My boyfriend was surprised at how interested I was with the tradition and told me that he had never stopped to contemplate it.

Pro #3: Higher chances of having a cool “How we met” story

I’ve only had one boyfriend in the US and we met in a very lame way; at a club. The ways I’ve met my boyfriends abroad have been much cooler. I met my Indian ex on a rooftop flying kites to celebrate Sankranti, an Indian holiday. My Spanish ex was the first person I met in Spain and was my Couchsurfing host. I met my current boyfriend through Tinder but first met at a plaza in Coyoacan (the most charming neighborhood in Mexico City in my opinion) and ate quesadillas at a mercado. Even though the “how we met” story isn’t too important in the grand scheme of a relationship, I find pleasure in having a good story.

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Making friends with a cat in Peru while we wait for a bus

Pro #4: Practice language skills

Danish is an incredibly difficult language because of its pronunciation. Living with a Dane has helped a lot because he corrects my homework and I get to practice it whenever I want. He has told me that he likes speaking English and I’ve noticed that his English has improved, although he was already fluent when I met him.

Pro #5: Higher chances of an easier break-up

The break-up with my Indian and Spanish exes was the same. My time abroad was up and we didn’t imagine living our lives together so we said our goodbyes. The distance helped. I never had to run into them or their friends. I never went to a place that reminded me of them. Also, knowing that my time there was short, we expected our last day and could enjoy our time together in the meantime. The downside of this is that from their perspective, this is difficult. My ex in Spain had a hard time because he continued his daily routine but felt like I was missing. I had walked into his life and walked out. It was harsh for him then but now we are good friends.

There are never any benefits without negatives.

Con #1: There can be cultural misunderstandings

My ex in Spain would do thoughtful things for me all the time because he thought it was cute. For example, he would always walk me to a bus stop a few blocks down when I had to go to work. This annoyed me terribly because I thought he was being sexist. I believed that he didn’t think I could do things on my own. One day I snapped and told him that I could take care of myself. He explained that he knew I was capable of that and much more, but that he liked to do things for me. He enjoyed those 10 minutes we spent walking and talking to the bus stop. I felt like a cold-hearted fool and apologized. I learned to not politicize everything in a relationship and to have a conversation instead. Also, he would always say I was too American whenever I was angry and that would annoy me terribly.

Con #2: Cultural competition

Sometimes it’s fun to compete with your partner about cultural things. Usually it’s small things like whether the American Milky Way is better than the Danish Milky Way. However, sometimes you can get your feelings hurt. In Denmark there are traditional Christmas shows that are on every year. I thought they were scary looking and not Christmassy so I told my boyfriend that we should watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the 1964 classic. I watch it every year and wanted to share it with him. He said it looked like it was for 5 year-olds. I was surprisingly hurt by this comment. We happened to watch it on Christmas Eve and he said it wasn’t as bad as he thought it would be. I consider it a victory.

Con #3: Language barrier

Sometimes it’s difficult to get your point across when they can’t understand specific expressions or phrases and vice versa. I don’t encounter this issue often with my current boyfriend but sometimes I worry that he gets exhausted of speaking English all the time.

Although difficulties surface while dating someone abroad, overall I prefer it. Sometimes I make a cultural faux pas, but I usually laugh about it. Also, I’ve been very fortunate to date people who are open-minded and have open-minded families who don’t disagree with dating outside one’s own race, nationality, or religion. But I do wonder; what is it like to date someone abroad of your same gender, or who doesn’t identify with male or female? Or how about long-distance relationships? There are lots of different kinds of relationships out there and it’s easier now more than ever to date people outside of your country. If you have dated someone abroad, how did it go? Add any comments below!

Advantages Latinas Have When They Travel Abroad

To my Latinx brothers and sisters, this message is for you. Honestly this message can apply to any minority living in the US, but it’s crafted through the eyes of my experience as a Latina traveling abroad.

Especially if you are a university student, please consider studying abroad. Leaving the US will open your eyes to systems, characteristics, and a multitude of other things you might have not seen before. Why am I telling this message to just Latinxs when really all students should study abroad? Well, some things will be easier for you than it is for a white US American.

Reason #1: Ambiguity of nationality

Most people you meet abroad won’t guess where you are from. Unless you are wearing a shirt with Obama’s face and US American flag print shorts, most people will think you are from somewhere else. The majority of

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Looking mysterious in Quito

people in other countries still hold on to the stereotype that US Americans are white with blond hair and blue eyes. Just look at Hollywood, which is where people abroad receive images of US American culture and Latinxs are vastly underrepresented. If you are a brown or an Afro Latinx, people you meet won’t be able to guess where your roots are. While I was in India most people wouldn’t believe that I was from the US because I was brown (I was even called Chocolaty-brownie once!) because people can be unaware of how diverse the US is. I always explained that my parents were Salvadoran, however I didn’t meet one person who had heard of El Salvador. After three months of explaining where El Salvador was I gave up and told people my background was Mexican because it was quicker. Although it is frustrating at times, this can really be a positive thing, especially if you choose a country where US Americans aren’t typically adored or are just seen as a piggy bank. People stereotype nationalities quickly while traveling so that fact that people didn’t really know where I was from allowed me to craft my identity or remain more mysterious. It’s a shallow benefit but it has really helped me abroad and leads into reason #2.

Reason #2: Higher chances of blending in

If you happen to choose a country that has a population with similar facial features as you, then you are in luck! This saved me in India countless times. I was usually confused for

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Attempting to blend in in India

an Indian-American or the tour guide for my group of friends. Also, I’m not proud to say that I paid the Indian price at entrances for several museums. I could blend in and wasn’t a target for as many stares or beggars as my classmates received. Also, I made friends easily and one Indian friend attributed it to me not looking as intimidating as a 5’11’’ blond girl. This has helped me in other countries I’ve visited/lived in like Morocco, Mexico, and Ecuador. If you are a lighter skinned Latinx these first two reasons might not apply to you so much, but the next one will.

Reason #3: Past experiences of being a minority

You know what it’s like to be in a group of people and realize that you are the only minority. If you are in college, chances are that you really

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Surprise, the only brown girl

know what this is like. You’ve grown used to it and even though it still bothers you, it doesn’t stop you from being social. Well, when you are in a different country, you will go through this but in a more extreme fashion. However, you are used to feeling like an outsider. For a white US American, it’s harder for them because they might have never been in a position to feel that way. Many other exchange students in my program struggled with the feeling of being an outsider.

When I studied abroad in India, my US American classmates were homesick so to alleviate their pain they would often reminisce about things they missed in the US. One day they were sharing stories about their childhood memories at Disneyworld or Disneyland, and I simply couldn’t relate. I’m not even sure if I knew where those places were as a kid. After commenting several times that I hadn’t done most of the things that they were missing, one classmate told me that I wasn’t even US American. These types of things happen to us all the time. We feel like foreigners in our own country and with our own people. Actually being a foreigner isn’t too far from that feeling.

Reason #4: Visits abroad to the motherland

You’ve probably already been abroad and know that the US American way of life isn’t the only way. Many students abroad experience culture shock or are simply surprised by many of the smaller details to living abroad. Although you might get homesick, you have already seen how other cultures meet the demands of daily living. You probably won’t be surprised to see milk or juice sold in plastic bags and you’ve probably already cultivated a love for street food. Another great thing is that since you’ve already been to another country, you can compare your study abroad country with the US and your motherland. I was surprised to see the same frituras that are sold in Mexico and Central America also sold in India. These types of similarities are comforting and also help give you an understanding of how similar we all are.

I hope these four reasons motivate you to study abroad. I know that there might be other factors working against you and your dreams to go abroad. Some of those may be financial worries. There are many scholarships for minority students and if you go to a non-traditional study abroad destination (e.g. Asia, Middle East), you have a higher chance at getting a scholarship. One really great one is the Gilman Scholarship (if you are a US citizen) which is the one that allowed me to study in India.

Another factor that might hold you back are the opinions of your family.

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Southern France

They might not like the idea of you being so far away. You could use the strategy I used; just fill out all the paper work and once everything is confirmed, let them know you are leaving and that you’ll bring them lots of souvenirs when you get back.

I hope you will see that the positives really outweigh the negatives. For once you are at an advantage for being Latinx because of your looks and background. And like Sandra Cisneros said, “You can never have too much sky”, so go on and see the world, take photos, and share them with others so we can be a more internationally minded community.

*This perspective of traveling is from a brown Latina who was born and raised in the US with Salvadoran heritage. Although “Latinx” is a broad term, the reality is that we are diverse and can have very different experiences while traveling. 

An Exchange to India

India will always have a piece of my heart. It’s what started my wanderlust and helped me be who I am now. How can I sum up five months in a few short paragraphs? India was a puzzle. Its complex history and its diversity of people was something new to me. But in the end, India for me was an awakening.

Since I was young I was often obsessed with other countries. By the time I was in high school, my younger sister and classmates got me into Bollywood movies. These movies were a mixture of Mexican telenovela type drama with catchy songs and beautiful dances. I was quickly fascinated with the top movie stars and memorized hit songs. My obsession with Bollywood soon expanded to all things related to India and by the time I was a junior in college, I was determined to be an exchange student there.

With Bollywood songs to motivate me along the way, I jumped through hoops to secure scholarships and approval from my university to be an exchange student in Hyderabad. I assuaged my mothers fears by making a small brochure of where I was going with all relevant contact information included. With everything set, I arrived to India in late December 2009.

Reactions to New Surroundings

When I arrived at the airport, I walked out and saw two armed-to-the-teeth guards and a sea of people walking in every direction. The first thought to cross my mind was, “what did I get myself into?” I had never been outside of the US, so Hyderabad was a jump into the deep end of the pool.

I walked through the crowd looking for the person who was supposed to pick me up to take me to the university campus. I found him holding a sign that said “University of Hyderabad”, and introduced myself. The chaos outside of the airport was scary, but the walk to the car and the drive through the city calmed my nerves. The images of India being crowded with people and loud noises I had seen were true however, those images didn’t communicate that there was a pattern to the madness. Yes the roads were loud, but drivers honked so often only to signal information to others. People were everywhere, but there always seemed to be just enough space. India seemed like everything I expected, but it wasn’t until I was there, that I understood it better.

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Historical center of Hyderabad

The university campus was rural, with many scenes along the way to my hostel. After a few weeks I learned where the best spots for street food were. Although I should have been more cautious, I ate nearly anything in front of me. US Indian restaurants typically offer dishes like butter chicken, tikka masala, and palak paneer. The food in India is much more diverse. Each region has its own kind of cuisine and I was very fortunate to live in the south where dosas and biryani were easily found. Also, vegetarianism is common in India so it felt great to see a menu filled with items I could eat.

Cultural Understandings

What I was most excited for was experiencing Indian “culture.” I put quotation marks around the word culture because there are limits to what I could experience as a foreigner. For example, because I’m not Indian, family events like marriages, births and funerals in addition to family expectations and relationships, were things I could only view and not participate in. For example, I did attend a wedding of an acquaintance, but I only watched a ceremony and ate dinner. If it had been a wedding of a family member I would have had a more active role.

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Tradition on Sankranti

Even though I could only participate in a small range of culture, I thoroughly enjoyed what I did experience. I was ecstatic to hear Bollywood hits in every shop or rickshaw I entered. I recognized the actors and actresses on most advertisements and even bought items based on my favorites. My peers and I participated in holidays with much gusto and I was fortunate enough to celebrate New Years and Sankranti with the family of a good friend of mine. All of these experiences shaped my perspective on India and helped me understand what kind of visitor/traveler I am.

The exchange program I participated in was unstructured so it was up to each student to create the experience that they wanted. My classmates and I spent weekends visiting tourist sites during the day and bar hopping at night. We also organized short trips to a beach in Goa and the religious site in Hampi, and to some northern cities like Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, and Jaisalmer. At first I disliked how unstructured the program was because I felt like we were left on our own and with very little support or resources. Now looking back I realize that it was the best way to learn how to travel.

India From an American-Latina Perspective

Most Indians don’t have Latin America on their radar. In India, people know the larger countries like Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil. The smaller Latin American countries were unheard of. People often asked me where I was from and I would say I was from the US. But because people assumed that Americans were Caucasian, they wouldn’t believe me and asked why I was brown. I was even called “chocolaty brownie” once on a train. Most people told me that I was Indian even after I had denied it. Then I would explain to them that my parents were from El Salvador. No one had heard of El Salvador or Central America so it was difficult to explain where it was. When I used the term “Central America”, lots of people thought I was referring to the center part of the US. After three months, I gave up on trying to explain my Salvadoran heritage and told people that my parents were from Mexico.

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Kuchipudi dance class recital (I’m in the center)

Overall being a Latina with dark features was a benefit. It allowed me to somewhat blend in and not bring too much attention to myself. My Caucasian classmates failed at trying to blend in, but I managed it pretty well. I put some effort into creating an “Indian image.” I went to the city center to buy fabrics for several outfits and had salwar kameez and churidar suits tailor-made. Blending in gave me the opportunity to not stand out when I was by myself. Several classmates complained about getting stared at while they were in line at the post office or the local convenience shop. They were often asked for pictures whenever they visited tourist sights. I was able to go about my day without much notice because I was Latina and could “pass” for Indian.

A New Perspective

Since it was the first time I had been abroad, it was only natural that I went with a naïve and simplistic idea of what I was going to see. In only 5 months I learned a great deal about myself, my identity, my worldview, the US, people and much more. I wouldn’t say that I see things in a different way; it’s more like I am aware of myself and my surroundings in a way that I wasn’t before. The greatest shift in perspective was of where I wanted to be. I thought I was content and satisfied with living in Richmond, VA and my goal was to find a job there after graduating and starting my “adult life”. Since freshman year, I had decided that the life I had in Richmond was the best I could possibly have. Leaving Virginia made me reevaluate what I wanted from life.

After studying in India, I knew I wanted to continue traveling. I felt unsatisfied with staying in Virginia and I knew I was capable of more because I had pushed myself to get to India and tested my limits while I was there. I went to India because I was curious, but what I found there was more curiosity. It was an awakening because I thought I knew what I wanted but instead it made me question many long held ideas. I’m thankful for my time in India and one day I hope to go back and explore more because there is still so much to see.