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  • Writer's pictureDiann Schindler, Ph.D.

After my Turkey metamorphosis, I sold my house, my car, and all my worldly possessions....

Why would I decide to sell everything and become DiannAbroad, solo nomad, author, and photographer...traveling through out the world?

I was in elementary school, in the third grade, I remember studying Chile. I was completely drawn to this land of extreme terrain and colorful culture. I wanted to dance and sing like they danced and sang. I imagined how the Andes looked when I could actually see the mountains, first hand. I could only dream what asado, empanada, and crudos tasted like. I longed to eat those foods. And, I especially wanted to meet those smiling children pictured in the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Chile was a world away and I wanted to go!

I remember this third-grade Chile lesson like it was yesterday. I was nine years old and it was the beginning of my relationship with my very own travel bug. It was an insidious, but subtle, gadfly-like bug that gently nagged me long after Mrs. Wilson’s geography class.

Madeira Island, Portugal

It latched on and remained secure despite my choice to decline, albeit reluctantly, an opportunity to work overseas for the Federal Bureau of Investigation right after high school. And, although I managed a nine-day tour of Europe, three weeks in Japan, a long weekend in Bermuda, and holidays in Mexico, my travel bug became a deep- seated disease. Leaving the subtle approach behind, it reminded me that my desire, now my need, could never be satiated with an occasional jaunt here and there over a twenty-five-year career in higher education.

Ah, but the Universe! It always spoke to me; but, of course, I didn’t always listen, of course. In the last few years, either it has become louder or I have finally opened up to hear it!

In October of 2015, I went with tennis friends, Ruth Ann and Leon, to Istanbul and Cappadocia. This trip to Turkey became the ultimate tipping point. No longer in denial, I surrendered. Alas, I was free from myself. I embraced my lifelong disease. As a result, my tenacious travel bug was transformed into a sweet, enthusiastic companion that released my free spirit and passion for adventure.

Within three months after the Turkey metamorphosis, I sold my house, my car, and all my worldly possessions, save my guitar, tennis racket and a few pieces of clothing that fit nicely in a medium-sized suitcase. On January 15, 2016, I began my lifelong dream of traveling the world.

At the time of this writing, I have traveled to over forty countries. I hiked the volcanic mountains of Madeira Island, Portugal; traversed the cliffs of Costa da Morta (aka “Death Coast”) in northwestern Spain; climbed the Grand Atlas mountains of Morocco; cruised the Danube River in Austria; sang and played my guitar in Spain, Italy, and Kosovo; attended the French Open Tennis Tournament in Paris and the Italian Open Tennis Tournament in Rome; road a camel in Cappadocia, Turkey; attended opera performances in Italy and Austria; walked the sacred grounds of Auschwitz in Poland; rode horseback to the top of Cusco, Peru; and experienced spiritual surrender to Machu Picchu; and much more.

Wait! Yes, I did all that! But, what is it about travel that has captured my everything?

Yes, it is a clear that the sights and sounds are incredible; knowledge of histories is enlightening and humbling. But, there is more, much more.

The answer is: it is the people.

There is a Moorish proverb: “He who does not travel does not know the value of men.” It is easy to think we know how other people live and how other countries look, based on our third-grade geography classes, news broadcasts, and socialized stereotypes. But, it is not until we tighten our own shoe laces and step forward to see the world, that we replace myth with fact.

When we experience a stranger’s hospitality, meet their families, eat their food, and observe how they treat others and their land, we can start to assign authentic worth to other populations— and to mankind.

For me, travel is incredibly transforming because of the warm and loving individuals I have met from a variety of countries and cultures, and in all walks of life. These acquaintances and extraordinary relationships are ground in mutual respect and curiosities about people and their home countries from all over world.

The passion and commitment people have for their countries and their countrymen have broadened my perspectives. I question myself daily: “Why didn’t you do more for your country?”

It is all very humbling. I’m grateful for this growth opportunity and know I have much more to learn.

What about you? How has your travel affected you? Have you changed in any way? I'm eager to hear about your travels. Please write to me.

Thank you so much.

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