St. Louis, MO: Make the World a Little Bigger

So last weekend, in honor of our lovely presidents who generously gave us a long weekend, I traveled to St. Louis to visit Washington University. Okay, fine, I actually just took a weekend off to travel and visit a friend there – why not! So anyway, while everyone else was home being cutesy and romantic for Valentine’s weekend – cooking homemade dinners and sending chocolate and rose sales through the roof, I ventured from LA to St. Louis to spend Singles Awareness Day with another single friend for an adventure weekend filled with Mardi Gras and plenty of tourist attractions.

Adventure, as I like to call it, has become a huge part of my life recently. In an effort to get out of my comfort zone and really experience all that the world has to offer, I’ve started encouraging(forcing) myself to explore, try new things, and DO things. This isn’t to say I didn’t do this sort of stuff before but it wasn’t until recently that I really started putting my heart into it. It’s become such a part of my life that if I don’t get out and do something different or unique or new at least once or twice a week I begin feel restless and almost anxious.

It all started with my “LA Bucket List”, a list I created at the start of this past school year listing off all of the places, activities, restaurants, etc. that I hadn’t gone to or experienced since living in LA. Many of these things were quintessential LA things that I’m amazed I somehow avoided up until this year – LACMA, Griffith Observatory, Umami Burger. But with the dawn of my last year in college and with uncertainty if I’ll ever move back to LA, I felt compelled to complete as many of these experiences as possible before I left. Thus began #adventurefridays. With a number of my friends also not having class on Fridays this semester, it was the perfect day to do some exploring while most people were in work or school. I’ve already crossed a number of items off my LA Bucket List and hopefully will continue to in the coming weeks – I’ll keep you posted!

Which brings us to St. Louis. I had booked this trip months ago to visit my friend Annie, essentially returning the fun favor of when she visited me in LA last year. It was honestly one of the best travel weekends of my life – the ideal balance of work and play, excitement and relaxation. We kicked off the weekend with Mardi Gras, a giant party and parade in the streets filled with too many beads and beers to count. After an exhausting day celebrating though, we countered the weekend with plenty of tourist attractions, including the famous Gateway Arch and City Museum, forcing ourselves to trudge through the 17 degree cold (something I had no experience in being from California) to experience the sights around us.

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I could go on and on about this trip and how truly great it was, or I could tell you how stupendous my Annie is for letting me sleep on her floor for three days, but really I’ve led you through my rambling thoughts for this long to come to one point: we should make the world a little bigger.

With the onset of global travel, Internet, and social media, people continue to talk about how the world is getting smaller and smaller. Globalisation has caused cultures to mix and people to stay more connected than ever before, shrinking the world down to digestible 140-character chunks of information from one side of the globe to the other. Air travel allows anyone with a passport to start their morning in California and end up in Hong Kong before 24 hours has even passed (if we’re ignoring time zones). Yes, these things have connected us all in an amazing and complex way but what I realized this weekend (on my short 4 flight from Missouri to California – a journey that would take days by any other form of travel) is that even while the world may be “shrinking” it still is by no means small.

While the internet connects us in incomprehensible ways, there is nothing that beats traveling and actually seeing the world for what it is. There are over 7 billion people on earth, 196 countries, and who knows how many things out there to experience. It is so easy to get sucked into a comfortable bubble of location, a comfortable bubble of schedules and convenience and “I’ve done this before but it’s fun so let’s do it again.” Even if you live in a diverse area, you may still feel like your world is plenty big enough. But are you going out and experiencing it?

The world is so much bigger than our minds can comprehend and while we may be able to pull up pictures of the Taj Mahal from our computers at home and imagine what that must be like, it is not the same as going there and experiencing it in person. So instead of sitting inside today (like I am right now to write this post), I challenge you to go out and do something different, something you’ve never done before. And I challenge you to keep doing these different things, to get a sense of how much is really out there – a challenge to make the world a little bigger.

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