Being in Europe is sometimes very surreal, like I can hardly believe that I am here, in England, and spend my weekends in different countries. I had the most incredible, sudden realization in Rome, standing on the top of the dome of St. Peter's Basilica with nothing but the wind, the stone beneath my feet, a metal fence for my hands to grip, and all of Rome and its thousands of years of history below me. I was there. I was seeing that view with my own two eyes. I was feeling the wind lift my hair off my neck and I was drinking it all in, trying to swallow great big gulps of that moment, trying to preserve how I felt just then, when I fell in love with Rome. And the realization that hit me so suddenly was simply that I was here.
Rome. Paris. London. Edinburgh. Belfast. Newcastle. Still to come: Amsterdam and Vienna. I don't want to say that I am just lucky to be here and to be seeing all these new places and learning new things, because I worked hard to get here. I was determined to be in England and to be able to travel. So I worked hard, but at the same time, I can't help but think that I am lucky.
I'm lucky to have the parents that I have. They are nothing but supportive and encouraging and the more I travel and the older I get, the more appreciative I am to have them. They support me in all ways, financially, emotionally, and the more I think about it, the more I see that I would not be who I am, doing the things that I do, without them. My dad encourages my weekend ventures, my mom cautions me to be safe and have fun; they are a home I can always return to, a place I can always feel welcome. They are safety, security, a springboard for me to leap into the world from. They are always there for me, supporting me wholeheartedly even if my dreams and plans are wacky and sometimes wishy-washy, loving me unconditionally. And I've never been more thankful for that.
I'm lucky to have the best family I could hope to have. People always say that you can't choose your family, but even if I could, I wouldn't choose anyone else. They have given me so much, from money to adapters to advice to love and support for me on this journey.
I'm lucky to have the friends that I do at home, because they're not so much friends as they are my second family. I'm able to tell them anything and everything and I'm lucky that this physical distance between us hasn't changed anything.
I'm lucky to have met the people here that I have, because they're the most incredible friends that really make Newcastle feel like home to me. I feel accepted and comfortable and like I really belong here.
I'm lucky to be alive, to be walking the streets of Newcastle, to be taking in the magic of Paris, to be getting lost in the winding streets and alleys of Rome, to be hiking up to glorious views in Edinburgh, to be enjoying the fast-paced city life in London, to be drinking Guinness in a pub in Belfast, to be anticipating adventures in Amsterdam and Vienna, to be able to simply, well, you know, be.