While I normally try to keep my posts in chronological order, I decided to break from this trend briefly to chronicle the end of my journeys.
It was a bit weird to fly into O’Hare airport and arrive back into the city of Chicago, my home for the 3 years before I left to travel. It was like deja vu, things were familiar, yet different at the same time. Hearing American accents everywhere was also a bit shocking, although I was eased into it a bit by the many Americans I met during Yacht Week.
I was able to see a few friends my first day back and I can already tell that things have changed for some of them as well. A few have moved on to other cities to begin the next chapter in their lives, and there have been job switches, engagements, new apartments, and other changes that have occurred while I’ve been gone.
Now that I’m back in Chicago, there are quite a few changes for me as well. I’ve luckily been able to find a place to live in Lincoln Park, but I’m faced with the task of finding a new job for the first time since I was in college, hopefully one that will cause me to be a bit more passionate about my work. I’ve become so used to a constantly changing environment over these last 9 months, I think that I’ll be up for the challenge.
Throughout these past 9 months, (or 262 days to be exact), I found myself in 19 different countries on 3 different continents. I experienced a wide variety of new cultures and adventures, and I embraced the uniqueness of each one, trying to learn about the traditions, languages, and way of life for the people. While never a big history buff, I really relished the opportunity to learn about the histories of the specific countries firsthand through museums, exhibitions, and talking with the people who experience them firsthand.
I was able to see many famous man made sights, from the magnificent pyramids in Cairo, Egypt, the temples of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia, the Taj Mahal in Agra, India, the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, the Cologne Cathedral in Cologne, Germany, and Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany.
I got to appreciate the natural beauty of the world at sights such as Victoria Falls in Zambia/Zimbabwe, the jungles of Thailand, the Thar Desert in India, the Himalayas in India, the Alps in Austria, and Plitvice and Krka National Parks in Croatia.
I had great encounters with animals, both above land and under the sea during my safari in the Serengeti, Masai Mara, trekking with the gorillas in Uganda, volunteering at Patara Elephant Farm in Chiang Mai, Thailand, diving in the Similan Islands in Thailand, and at Animal Aid Unlimited in Udaipur, India.
I was able to attend some pretty wild parties such as the Full Moon Party in Koh, Phangnan, Thailand, the Holi festival in Vrindavan and Mathura, India, Fruhlingsfest in Munich, Germany, and the crazy week long Yacht Week in Croatia.
I was able to satisfy my adventure/adrenaline by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, rafting the Nile River in Jinja Uganda, and the Zambezi, in Zambia, swimming in the Devil’s Pool, ziplining in Chiang Mai, Thailand, earning my scuba diving license in Koh Tao, Thailand, rock climbing in Railay, Thailand, and paragliding in Manali, India.
I was able to volunteer my time and attention at Cheti School in Arush, Tanzania, and Mother Theresa’s Missionaries of Charities in Kolkata, India.
I had several misfortunes, including having my iphone stolen in Arusha,Tanzania, and experiencing an Indian hospital in Jodhpur, India.
I really have been blessed to be able to have this opportunity and to be able to return healthy and not completely broke, but also with memories and pictures to last a lifetime.
Don’t worry for those who would still like to read about my European adventures in detail, I will work on uploading posts describing the last 6 weeks of my travels as I find spare time this summer. Here I will write about the rest of my adventures in Germany, the Netherlands, Croatia, and the crowning pinnacle to them all, Yacht Week!