I’ve never really pegged myself as a person who is into nature. Sure, I think blossoming flowers, fresh fallen snow and Lake Mendota sunsets are beautiful, but seeking nature for the sake of nature has never been a priority.
Since my time abroad, I have become less and less into urban cities and more and more into natural environments. I believe this interest is developing now because I have never been exposed to truly breathtaking nature as I have been experiencing in Europe.
The more places I travel to, which are usually big, popular cities, I realize all cities feel the same. They are busy, bustling and crowded, full of tourists and overpriced tourist traps. Apart from some cultural differences that are guaranteed to come in each country and things like architecture and food unique to an area, I get the same vibe from every big city I visit.
Due to this, I find nature compelling because, no matter where you go in the world, you experience nature in a distinct way. Every corner of the world’s environment and landscape is different, which makes the nature of every corner unique to the location. Unlike the vibes of a big city, you can’t experience that nature anywhere else in the world.
Another reason I dislike traveling to cities is because the endless amount of things to do is overwhelming. I find it stressful and difficult to truly experience what a city offers when pressured by time. I prefer experiencing the calm nature of a countryside or ocean rather than barely scrape the surface of what a city offers.
Currently, I am studying in London, which is perhaps one of the busiest, biggest, most nature-less cities in the world. It sounds completely hypocritical for me to say. I absolutely love London. What sets London apart from other cities, for me, is the fact that I have the time (four months to be exact) to explore and engage in all of these activities. I can take my time to experience every aspect of the city thoroughly.
I noticed my preference for nature when I went to Dublin, Ireland, for vacation in 2015. During that trip I developed a deep love for Ireland. Dublin was cute and exciting and stereotypically Irish, but, honestly, it wasn’t amazing. What made me love Ireland so much was the day trip I took through the Irish countryside to the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher. It was so overwhelmingly beautiful that I was literally blown away (well, not literally, otherwise I would’ve been blown off the cliffs).
My exceptional experience in Ireland made me a huge supporter of such bus day trips, which is why I forced my traveling companions on a tour to the Scottish Highlands when we visited Edinburgh, Scotland, last month. If I thought the Cliffs of Moher were incredible, they were nothing compared to the Highlands, glens and lochs that were so stunning my jaw literally dropped.
In Barcelona, my favorite part of the weekend was finding the beach of the Mediterranean Sea and walking in the sand looking for shells and sea glass. (It’s the simple things in life.) I particularly enjoyed that moment because I breathed in fresh air for the first time in a month (London air is very polluted). The sea also reminded me of Lake Michigan, where I grew up, which tells you something about the size of Lake Michigan.
I become so serene, so content and so refreshed in the presence of the world’s awesome beauty. When I start to get exhausted or stressed because of the intense bustling around to visit every iconic site, I find these moments in nature to be the most redeeming part of a trip.
These moments in nature make the expensive flight, cramped hostel and sore feet worth it.