So here it is, three years into college and I finally decide to start a blog. I wonder why it took me this long. Sure, we have had some bumps in the road, scattered potholes and some huge frickn’ craters but here it is: the home stretch, the final year, and at the time of writing this, my final semester. To be completely honest I wasn’t sure I’d make it this far and now all I can think about is how fast it has gone. I know way more now than I did when I started college, but with all that I didn’t know two things were clear to me:
#1. I was going to major in Biology, and
#2. I was going to travel every chance I got
These were my goals before I ever went on my first solo trip, before anyone ever told me I was a scientist, before I fell in love with research and travel, and before I believed that the feeling of being stuck would ever go away. Growing up my mom did the best she could with the cards she was dealt (I love you mom!). But with her being a single mom, we grew up with not a whole lot of money in a dark 1 bedroom basement apartment, I yearned for an out, something more. Somewhere beyond my hometown of Chicago to the oceans I had seen in movies, or the cobblestones of Europe, or the exciting destinations of travel vloggers. I remember in high school I use to watch FunForLouis almost daily, dreaming that one day I would be on the other side of the screen having my own adventures.
Fresh out of high school I had a passion for creative writing, curated interest in science and severe case of wanderlust, and I was accepted to a local university on a full ride scholarship. Honestly, I wonder often about where I would be if I never got that scholarship. That Liv lives in an alternate universe, maybe somewhere in the northern woods of Wisconsin. I write about that Liv sometimes; it is a fun thought experiment to imagine your life if you did one thing differently. In any case, I was on my way, heading towards a future in science and a life that existed only in my dreams. But that dreamy life was obscured in a haze of self-doubt and seemingly insurmountable obstacles, and it only began to come into focus as I began to travel.
You see traveling to me was always a fantasy that many people said they wanted but never actual got to realize. I didn’t want this to be true for me, so I jumped at every opportunity I received to get out of Chicago, even if it was for a weekend. From school retreats to the northern cabins near Wisconsin or the forests of Indiana, to road tripping to St. Louis with my roommate, to finally planning my own solo trip to New Orleans; it was not always easy and glamorous but looking back, those are some of my fondest memories from college. The cliché honestly held true that entire time, it didn’t matter the destination in the end. It was honestly the journey, the people, and the fact that I finally felt free to roam and leave the city I had known my whole life to experience new places.
Since that first retreat at the start of my freshman year I have been to (as of 02/18/2020):
- St. Louis, MO
- New Orleans, LA (5 separate times now!)
- New York, NY
- Shawnee National Forest, IL
- Portland, OR (twice)
- Astoria, OR
- Seattle, WA (twice)
- Bainbridge, WA (twice)
- Seaview, WA
- Denver, CO
- Boulder, CO
- Indianapolis, IN
- Various coastal cities in Oregon
- The Netherlands (I have been all over so I find it excessive to list everywhere)
- Berlin, Germany
- Prague, Czechia
- Budapest, Hungary
- Vienna, Austria
- Antwerpen, Belgium
- and probably many others I am forgetting at the moment.
I make this list not to brag or to impress you but to remind myself that I have accomplished the dream that little Livi thought up years ago in that basement.
I got out; I found the “more”.
And it is my every intention to continue to “get out” for as long as I live. This is what I call Livin’ Free. Through traveling I have met so many amazing people, had so many unique and fun experiences and met the love of my life (sorry for the sappiness y’all, but it is true). I recognize I am in a position of luck and privilege to be able to do this with my life, but I also know I worked hard to get here. 3.5 years of always working at least 2 jobs, (at one point 4) averaging 40+ hours a week at some points all while taking a full time class load and maintaining a 3.5 GPA.
Saying this out loud sounds like I am talking about someone else. It is hard I think for many of us to recognize the hard work we are doing while we are in it. It is only after all the work is put in and we can stand back and take a look at it we see how much we achieved. But I am not here to rattle off my CV, I am here because with everything I have experienced traveling, going to school and working I feel I have some things to share. Plus I have always loved writing. Ever since I was a kid you could find me with a journal and pen. Ironically that was why my love and I met: he found me writing in that hostel lobby in Seattle at 11pm and asked if he could bother me, and lets just say he has been bothering me since.
So you see writing just seems like the right thing to do. Writing creatively was a lost love I had shoved to the side to focus more on academic writing. Sure, I would attempt a poem here or there over the last 3 years but nothing consistent. Now I am about to embark on a crazy awesome new chapter in my life and I want to capture it and share it with friends, family and anyone who could benefit or be entertained by my stories. You see, I will be graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Biology in May 2020, and I have been accepted into a Master’s program in the Netherlands. Studying and living abroad are also dreams I had as I teenager and now they are finally becoming a reality. There is no way I could have planned how it all happened but somehow it managed to all fall into place, and I am so excited to see what happens next.
Thank you to everyone who made it this far in the post (the first ones are always the longest aren’t they?). I hope that you join me on this journey as I explore what it is like to continue my travels, navigate graduate school abroad and start this next chapter in my life.
✌️ ❤️ 👽 ~ Livi
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