My wanderlust started at a young age. I grew up traveling often with my family, as both of my parents are from Europe, born and raised in the former Yugoslavia. Growing up in my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio we traveled back to Serbia regularly to visit my grandparents and other family and vacationed to sunny destinations frequently to get away from the cold winters.
Coming from a European family, the mentality of enjoying life and vacationing often was instilled in me at a young age. By the time I turned 18 I had already traveled to numerous different countries and beautiful destinations all around the world.
My mom worked for an airline so we were fortunate enough to be able to travel for reasonable prices to some amazing places. I definitely get my passion for travel from my mom, who has been just about everywhere in the world, and had a lust for travel way before it ever became a trend. As time passed, my love for traveling and exploring kept getting stronger the more I experienced the world, as it does with most people.
I remember when I was younger and my mom would often tell me that she wanted me to live abroad in Europe one day, and at that time I had absolutely no interest in it. Wow did that change….
It all started with my experience of living in Italy for a summer. I did an internship where I was contracted to live on a military base and teach while earning college credits. My first experience with the program I was staffed in Aviano, Italy to teach swim lessons and lifeguard. It wasn’t my ideal plan, as I was hoping to teach preschool, but it was my dream destination of Italy so I made it work. Not to mention I was able to get a tan while working. (Although the tan lines of our not so hot one pieces were pretty terrible!) I also met some amazing people that became lifelong friends, all from different paths and places around the world.
During that internship, I was able to travel all around Europe and add more notches to my already lengthy travel resume. Almost every weekend we would take trips to see and explore new countries and cultures. Aviano was a central location in Europe, only 45 minutes from Venice, so a number of destinations were just a train ride or quick flight away. That summer included travel to Germany, France, Austria, Spain, Slovenia, and all over Italy.
After Italy, I did another internship with the same program, this time staying stateside at the Navy Base in Key West, Florida for 6 months. I finally got that dream job of teaching preschool and it was just as wonderful as I’d hoped it would be. That is also when my love affair with the sunshine state of Florida began. Living right on the water walking outside to the smell of the ocean never got old! (Never mind the fact that we were living in a trailer park on base because the nice townhomes we were supposed to live in were under renovation after getting destroyed by a hurricane)
Just like the first experience, I made more amazing friends and made a ton of wonderful new memories. I think it was at this time that my love for sunsets really came to be. In the evenings and on weekends I worked a beer tub on Mallory Square where sunsets are a nightly ritual and street performers are a plenty.
After these experiences (and a second summer spent in Italy) I went on to get my Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education. Next, I settled into the real world, finding a teaching job in Tampa, Florida where I have lived for the past 8 years. My wanderlust didn’t stop there, as I always made sure to maximize my summers off and holiday breaks to explore new places. I added lots of new countries to my list of places seen, checking off many of my wanderlust wishes and revisiting some of my favorites from the past.
Through each of these experiences, I learned the value of trying new things and visiting new places. That is something I will never take for granted and hope to continue to fill my life with- new experiences with amazing people- both new and old.
And now here we are today, and my wanderlust is as strong as ever. As I look forward to the experiences to come, I’m also so very grateful for all of the amazing memories I’ve made thus far and this current moment of sharing my experiences with you!