As I struggled with the idea of leaving my twenties behind, I scrambled to put together a list of accomplishments that allowed me to feel this youthful decade was valuable, fun, engaging, impactful, and overall worth it. I think it’s a common process that many 29 turning 30 year olds go through. And it’s disastrous.
There’s no grading scheme for a life well lived. There’s no meter to say “yep, you did alright, kiddo”, which I wish would be whispered in my ear by a wise old man with a southern drawl. It’s just life. Your decision, your stories, your relationships and that glimmering hope that you’re not screwing it all up.
In 29 years on the planet, one thing I have prioritized is travel. I was lucky enough to travel for work and for pleasure and for volunteering, and one of the reasons D and I decided to move to Budapest for his studies as it is a central point from which to explore. I believe travel is important to broaden your perspective, to understand the world and to try all the delicious things.
In my scramble to pull together what I’ve done in my twenties, I haphazardly had put together my list of countries I visited in my 30 years. Some I’ve explored thoroughly, and some I’ve visited only a city. It wasn’t planned, though that would have been clever (and I would have made 30!), but by adding in Canada (which I allow as I’ve traveled to every province and two of three territories) and remembering that afternoon in Monaco, my list totaled 29.
Here, I offer the distilled wisdom I’ve collected is from the from these twenty-nine countries, to be taken with many grains of salt.
- Canada: Be nice.
- USA: Be proud.
- France: Eat well, together, and cook slowly.
- Luxembourg: Carve out your own space.
- Scotland: Hot toddies can cure.
- England: Read, read, read.
- Switzerland: Look up.
- Turkey: Diversity can be a strength.
- Netherlands: Just bike.
- Monaco: Be careful of the casino.
- Italy: Food is powerful.
- Vatican: Faith is powerful.
- Germany: Be accurate.
- Israel: Places are powerful.
- Jordan: Peace is possible.
- Hungary: Change takes time.
- Austria: Music is powerful.
- Czech Republic (Czechia): Preserve and persevere.
- Slovakia: Don’t curse the past, move forward.
- Serbia: East and west is real.
- Montenegro: Build with nature.
- Albania: Hospitality is an art.
- Belgium: Bureaucracy can be a fine art.
- Croatia: Relationships can be built and broken.
- Slovenia: Creativity can come from a fog.
- Qatar: Respect.
- Thailand: Be gracious.
- Cambodia: Be kind, everyone has a story.
- Spain: Enjoy the everyday.