Like many other travel bloggers out there, our blog originally started out as a way to keep in touch with friends and family during our year abroad – to share our experiences, our photography, and to let everyone know we were happy and well. Within just a couple of blog entries, though, I knew it was going to be something much more meaningful.
Traveling is one of my greatest passions, and I’ve yet to find anything more fulfilling. There’s nothing more exhilarating than the rush of stepping foot in an unfamiliar land, the freedom that comes with shattering routine, and the wonder of exploring something new. And what’s truly special about travel is not just how much it opens your mind and teaches you about others, but how much it shows you about yourself. Traveling has taught me that I’m more confident, more resourceful, and more resilient than I ever thought I was. At times, it renders you uncomfortable, vulnerable and exhausted, but also makes you feel relaxed, empowered, and invigorated. It makes me feel like I’m truly living and, simply, it’s life changing. This is why I want to share the stories of our adventures abroad.
I’ve always enjoyed writing, although, honestly, it’s a hobby that’s slowly slipped through the cracks over the years. Most recently, any composition I’ve toiled over has been scientific writing, specifically my 178-page dissertation. While I did discover some joy in technical writing, it also had its challenges and frustrations – namely, trying to effectively and expertly communicate specialized scientific jargon to a broad audience while sounding credible and professional, yet approachable and interesting. Six months after defending my dissertation, I switched gears completely as I began writing about our travels, and quickly rediscovered my love for creative writing. It’s so much more personal and less rigid, yet you still have the opportunity to teach and, hopefully, to inspire others through your work.
Yet despite this fondness to write, extending my words to the world was a pretty big leap for me (like wingsuit-off-Everest big). Writing has always been a very private pursuit for me, and publishing it kind of feels like handing someone your personal journal. Heck, even when I handed a dissertation chapter or paper over to my thesis advisor, I did so with a huge pit in my stomach. His response to my constant hesitation was always the same, and unfortunately accurate, ‘you know, I am going to have to read it eventually.’ I can count on one hand the number of people I’ve ever handed a composition to and asked if they’d read it, each time shuddering with uneasiness and preemptively qualifying that it probably sucked, regardless if I was any bit proud of the content. Truthfully, vulnerability terrifies me. But if there’s anything I’ve learned from traveling, it’s to never set limits and always push your comfort zone.
Stephan and I are both contributing authors and photographers, and we enjoy trying to capture the true beauty of each location in our narratives and photography (hence, the site’s title). Moreover, we love fostering an emotional connection with the people and places we visit, and we hope that you feel similarly connected with some of our stories – that they make you smile, laugh, cry or reflect, maybe recall a misplaced memory from years past with nostalgia and affection, or simply shake your head at a couple of dorks’ lame attempts at humor. And even if you take something small from the site – be it a new destination to add to your ‘life list,’ a cool gadget to add to your backpack, or even some curious crumb of odd information – we genuinely hope you’re impassioned to chase your travel dreams and see what limitless beauty there is to explore.