How Travel Inspires You - Enter to win 2 tickets to Prague!
Mickela writes about what inspires her to travel - write your own story and enter to win 2 tickets to Prague!
When I think back on what my life used to be like, I smile. Then I panic a bit. And then of course I smile once more. The travel writer story is pretty much always the same: 1.) Creative person has cushy corporate job. 2.) Said creative person is unhappy and decides to leave job for nomadic life. 3.) Said creative person is broke but happy, documenting his or her adventures around the world for everyone to see.
That’s a bit how my story plays out, with a few, minor shifts to where I am today.
Let’s rewind 25 years ago – I was a chipmunked-face kid growing up in the northeast in a strict Italian-American family. I had silly looking clothes from the 80’s (for a 5-year-old, floral corduroy Osh Kosh overalls were the best!). I waited all year for my dance recitals, not only to be on stage in some feathered and fringed costume, but so I could also plan the weeks leading up to the dress rehearsals: meticulously scheduling my changing strategies and costume order, organizing my Caboodle with just the right amount of hair pins and sample-sized rouges from my mother . In retrospect, I was always a planner. I loved making lists; I loved having everything organized; I loved the process of preparation. Nothing has changed.
As the years passed, I never stopped dancing, taking up music along the way, playing three instruments, writing music eventually, winning junior composition competitions, all while choreographing pieces in my school dance programs, performing, and more. It eventually came time to choose a college – I was coming from a prestigious all-girls prep school (whose arts program surpassed that of any university, along with its very generous endowment which made my attendance possible), and I had decided to go against the grain and apply to New York University for music. The rest of my classmates were vying after the limited Ivy League spots, guaranteeing themselves illustrious paths to Wharton Business School or Columbia’s Medical Program. I made the right decision, to say the least. NYU was an open, exciting place to learn. New York City was my classroom, and I dove into city life headfirst. I started internships well before I was technically allowed, working for pre-iTunes-era record labels. I was surrounded by enigmatic people in my dorms, and eventually moved off-campus to live in the East Village with my best friends. NYU doesn’t even have a football team, and with no surprise, there isn’t really a sense of school spirit. But the strongest bond you get is with the city that shelters you; even during 9/11, I did not leave. I refused – I wanted to stay and support my loving city.
During this time in school, I had stopped dancing. At an art school, you are either a dance major or you are not – and I was NOT. But of course I missed my daily classes, my ballet warm-ups at the barre, and my intense focus on complicated routines, moving to beautiful music.
After my sophomore year, I decided to study abroad in Florence for a summer. The trip changed my life; this was the first time I was traveling alone, on my own, as an ‘adult’. I began to fall more and more in love with my family’s culture, connecting to the country in a way that I had never felt before. And I caught ‘the bug’. Once I had a drink from the cup, I could not let that sensation go – I needed to travel. That fall, I decided to become an Italian Minor, and I traveled every year following that, applying for study-abroad scholarship programs, meeting friends who were backpacking in South America, crashing on couches of Fulbright Fellows in Budapest, and the list goes on! I used any excuse for me to pack, organize, get on a plane or train and go.
Fast forward a few years – throughout my travels, this new person evolved from me. I began dancing again, without even realizing it at first. I would find myself in a far-away place, on a day where the whole town was in the city square celebrating and singing, and I would jump right in and throw my body into the rhythms that were being played. Most of the time, I could not communicate with the locals by speaking with them, but I had conversations with them on a more basic level: through movement, dance, smiles, and joy.
I look back on what my life was like and I smile because every step, every single inch that I have walked has taken me to where I am now. Travel inspired me to rediscover what I loved most and realize how much I needed it back in my life. It inspired me to dance again.
Traveling to The Czech Republic
As I now travel the world to experience traditional dance and music in every place I visit, I hope to someday attend the summer festival Prague Folklore Days. This festival encompasses everything I love about travel. Not only are Czech groups represented, but the city hosts other folklore groups from throughout Eastern Europe to showcase their own traditions. A plethora of music and dance in the historic squares of the city, this festival would be an incredible opportunity for me to immerse myself even more in the dance traditions of this part of the world!
The Bare Feet™ Five:
1. What Inspires YOU to Travel?: Write your own travel inspiration story, and enter to win two tickets to Prague! Deadline is April 1, 2013 – click here for all details! Brought to you by the NY Travel Festival and Czech Tourism.
3. Find Mickela: Mickela will be moderating the Cinema Niche Breakout Sessions – be sure to join her with fellow speakers on local travel!
4. Sunday NYC Tours: The NY Travel Fest is excited to offer the first of its kind in travel conferences – a full day of local NYC tours. Some of the tours included are through Turnstile Tours, Urban Oyster, Vayable, and more!