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Sydney, Australia, the Beginning of the Travel Bug

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.”- Jack Kerouac

I have been thinking lately about when my passion for traveling and exploring every inch of the world really began. Sometimes I look at my friends, most of whom are somewhat settled in their lives, with engagement rings and “real jobs” (what does that even mean?), and I wonder why I do not yet crave these things. So many people I know would do anything to find true love right away and get married, or have children, or find their perfect job and go to work everyday from 9am to 5pm. Why is it that I have not yet started to really want these things, but instead, would rather live in a mud hut for the summer in some foreign land or trek from village to village with just my backpack in some unknown region?

While growing up I always looked forward to going on cruises with my family and visiting various cities in the US. But my real passion for traveling really began when I decided to study abroad at the University of Sydney when I was 20. My very first night these, some girls I had just met (who to this day are still some of my best friends) and I went out in Darling Harbour. As a joke, I dipped my toe into one of the fountains pretending to see if the water was warm. Well, the joke turned into reality as I toppled over into the fountain in my dress, flailing about as if I were drowning in 2 feet of water. Strangers began cheering and clapping and from that moment on, I knew that my time in Australia would be an adventure.

Aside from being fortunate enough to meet the most amazing group of friends ever, I dedicated myself to exploring every inch of Sydney and experiencing as many different aspects of the culture as possible, attending classes, visiting beaches, studying Australian history, visiting galleries and markets, seeing live performances, going to every festival and event possible, trying new foods, camping on beaches, trekking through the bush, traveling around Australia on weekends, and making sure to visit a new city every week. I even got a part-time job at a pizza place so that I could experience working in Australia.

When I look back on all of the different places I have visited, I feel that I hold a special place in my heart for Australia because I actually got to live there for an extended period of time. It helped me to immerse myself in their culture and really understand the city. Sometimes I wonder which kind of trips have more value, staying in one area for an extended time to gain a better understanding of the culture, or traveling to many different places in one trip in order to see as much as possible. While they both have their own unique pros and cons, I do know that when spending an extended period of time in one place the attachment you can create to a place can be really amazing, and can make it very difficult to leave.

Jessie Festa standing in front of grafitti wall

Hi, I’m Jessie on a journey!

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