May 7th, 2017, 04:52 PM

The 4 Things Living in Europe Has Taught Me

By Taylor Manley
Image Credit: Taylor Manley
12 countries, 4 months, and the 4 lessons I learned along the way.

During my four months as a visiting student at AUP, I spent a term in France and visited other European countries. As I prepare to return home, here are the four things that living in Europe has taught me.

1. Spend Money on Experiences, Not on Things

I quickly came to realize that money spent on material things will never be able to translate the same happiness that traveling can bring. The intangibles are the things that count — the memories of ancient buildings, roaming the streets of European cities with my closest friends, and experiencing things I may never do again in my lifetime. These experiences will be a blessing to look back on and a reminder of just how short life is. The cycle I was consumed in back home — spending money on “things” that bring me limited and superficial satisfaction — is something I’m ready to leave in the past. These experiences grace you with an aurora of confidence, patience, and an appreciation and knowledge for the world around you; something that no materialistic thing can buy you for the respect of others.

Image Credit: Taylor Manley

2. Embrace the Present

Like many events in life, things won't always to go as planned or work in your favor. Uncomfortableness, unfamiliarity, and fear can change someone’s mood in a split second. I learned quickly the importance of being present. Taking in what is around me, getting lost in the streets of a small town in Europe is not all that mad. Take certain situations with a grain of salt, it will make your life much easier.

Image Credit: Taylor Manley

3. The Insignificance of My Problems.

These four months spent abroad have been an eye-opener. Submersing myself in the cultures of others and observing their day-to-day life has given me a new perspective of my “issues” back home. The reality of homelessness, refugees, inequality, and living in a place where opportunities I take for granted seem unattainable has made me sit back and think. For example, on a recent trip to Morocco, kids without shoes came up to my friends and me on a weekday afternoon, not in school, trying to sell us bracelets made of plants for almost nothing. On the other hand, while I saw the impoverishment of some of these people, I also saw the appreciation, kindness, and genuine happiness that simple things such as playing soccer on the side of the road with a makeshift net brought them, or the excitement they had when we came up and made conversation and asked about their life. When I'm back home, I will look back on these moments and realize, okay, I can deal with what I am dealt.

Image Credit: Taylor Manley

4. Get Off Social Media

Its addictive and toxic. A thing I cannot stress more is to turn off the bulls**t when traveling. Photos will never be able to do justice to what you see with your own eyes. Don’t get caught up in sharing a specific moment on Snapchat only for it to disappear. Live these experiences for yourself and be fully there in the present. Yes, you can take pictures and videos, but do not revolve your trip around a single Instagram for the sole purpose of making other people jealous. Trust me, its not as fulfilling as you might think. Be 100% there so you wont miss a thing and you can tell your friends and family every detail about what you saw when you get back. You may never be able to relive these things again so don’t take it for granted.

Image Credit: Taylor Manley