What Sparked My Wanderlust?

My eyes followed the dashed white lines of the pavement until it became a blur. I searched for something new to focus on. Street lights. People. Cars. Trees. We were en route to the Florida Keys from Michigan, a 37 hour adventure.


We’ve been going on trips like this since before I can remember, making our way around North America by car. It’s a lot more affordable for a family of six and I preferred it. I never slept. Green Day filled my ears as Ohio mornings turned into Tennessee nights, as open fields became mountains.


This is when my love of travel started.


From family road trips to overseas vacations, I couldn’t get enough. We would get back from one trip and I would itch to go on another. People couldn’t understand why I wanted to leave so badly. It wasn’t so much I wanted to leave; I just wanted to experience something more, something different. This epiphany hit me on a trip to France.


Four years ago, I was strolling along the Cote d’Azur in Nice, France, watching the sun set behind a ramshackle, mismatched row of pastel buildings. As I listened to the French conversations, the scent of fresh-baked croissants in the air, I thought, this is what people should be seeing. People need to know about this place. People need to realize how amazing it is to immerse yourself in a different culture, to take a leap, to get a little lost in a foreign place.


There’s so much to this world, why miss out on any of it?

Nice, France - Côte d'Azur,  April 2011

Nice, France – Côte d’Azur, April 2011


I’ve been to thirteen different countries since my trip to France. However, my travel bug hasn’t been cured. I still long to embark on a cross-country road trip, to stroll the sun-bleached streets of Santorini, to walk the ruins of Machu Picchu in Lima.


In a few weeks, I’ll be jetting off to Ireland to intern with Extreme Ireland, a travel company, and I’m anxious, scared, and excited. This experience could change how my whole life winds up and where I will be in a couple years – Living in Europe? Working for EFCollegeBreak? Writing for Condé Nast?


The future is a bit foggy, but one thing is clear: Travel is my oxygen and all I want to do is breathe.


IMG_0171Alexis Castanos is a soon-to-be senior Journalism major and Public Relations minor at Columbia College Chicago in Chicago, Illinois. Growing up in a town of 3,000 with three brothers, she would take day trips to get a taste of something different. She loves discovering the pulse of a new city, writing songs, giving a voice to the voiceless, and inspiring others to see the world (or just the town next door). For more goodies from Alexis, follow her on Instagram and Twitter.


Alexis is a program participant on our “Intern in Dublin” program.

Find out more about interning abroad in Ireland here.