I first got the travel bug when I was 16. I convinced my dad that I really had to go on a study trip to Málaga (Spain) for two weeks to improve my Spanish. A few years later, at 18, it was to join my student association for a trip to Brazil. At 19, five weeks of Spanish training in Antigua (Guatemala). Then later the Brazilian Amazon (which was it for me!). Add to that Turkey, China, the Czech Republic, France, Italy and the list continues to grow every year.
Adventures are the best way to learn
On these solo travels, I learned a lot about all that I’m capable of. It’s a privilege that I was able to travel to other countries and have life experiences that not everyone has the opportunity to have. I met so many interesting people from other cultures that have broadened my world view. More importantly, I discovered my fascination with nature and culture, not just as a source of pleasure, but also as a topic of research.
” Take nothing but pictures.
Leave nothing but footprints.
Kill nothing but time. Burn nothing but calories.”
The choice of topics for my BA / MA theses was clear to me: Ecotourism in the Brazilian Amazon. Again this was influenced by my travels. In 2008, I went to the Amazon for the first time and have been under the river’s spell ever since. So much that, even years later, I cannot help but stay interested in conservation, sustainable development, the creation of (marine) protected areas, and how this affects local communities in those regions. I even read scientific journals for fun. I know. I’m a total nerd and proud of it.
“If you can’t stop thinking about it, don’t stop working towards it”
This road isn’t always easy – at times it can be a bumpy ride – but in my opinion, when your passion leads you somewhere, you have no choice but to heed its call. At least, that’s my choice.
You never know where your adventures will take you. In 2016, besides beautiful life lessons, they brought me a published article in the Journal of Ecotourism.
So, moça (girl), whatever your obsession might be, stick to it. Travel consciously with your eyes open and a care for your impact. You never know what kind of life inspiration it will give you.