A Travellerspoint blog

Inspiration

sunny 25 °F

Today I had some free time, so I decided to play around with some more new photo apps on my iPhone and see what creative things I could come up with. Using the Apps Gone Free app, I came across the A+ Signature app (which happens to be free today!) which got solid reviews and gave me a few ideas. I owe credit to my cousin who recently gave me the idea of putting transparent text into an image with a short and inspiring quote. Some free apps can be a real failure, and it becomes really obvious why they're free, but A+ Signature is awesome and I was hooked pretty much instantly. I spent some time putting together these pictures using mostly older pictures that I've taken with the Camera+ app (also taken and edited on my iPhone), and came up with the results below. I think some of these would make great desktop background images if it weren't for the fact that the resolution is a little off, but they still look pretty awesome anyways and I wanted to share them. Anyways, enjoy, and I hope you guys enjoy the results!

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Safe travels!

- Scooter
- @scott_treks

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Posted by la vita bella 19:21 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Appreciation

Six months of my wild and crazy life wrapped up into one, simple, word.

sunny 45 °F

Background

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Silverthorne, Colorado

The last six months of my life have been a wild roller coaster ride to say the least. I finished my junior year at University of Denver at the end of May, and packed up my things to move to Vail, Colorado for a 3 month internship. I was pretty excited with all the mountain stuff I do to live in such an awesome place, not to mention one of the most desirable places in the world for many people to live. While in Vail I met lots of awesome people, worked for an awesome company, lived out some of my dreams, hiked tons of 14ers, helped save a man's life, enjoyed more than my 15 minutes of fame, expanded my horizons, grew a lot as a person, and so on. After 3 months in Vail, I packed up my things to get on a plane and fly across the great pond to Paris where I took a train to Dijon to "study" for 3 months. I arrived safely in Dijon in early September with no lost luggage (imagine that!) ready to begin my studies here. I was a lost little island at first, not knowing anyone over here, not knowing where anything was, knowing enough French to do simple things but by no means enough, and the first few days were pretty rough for me and a bit challenging. I thought I was ready and totally prepared, packed smart, and was ready for this thing, but it ended up being so much more.

Before long I made lots of new and awesome friends from all over the world and began my classes. But before even going to a class, I started traveling. I have since then traveled all over Europe, visited Africa, and walked amongst and breathed in so many different, new, unique, and often times strange cultural experiences. I've traveled nearly everywhere by train, something that isn't common in the United States. My family spent one week in Paris and Dijon visiting me, and am now back in the US trying to resume life as normal, if there is such a thing anymore. All of these experiences have helped me grow and realize that I am not anywhere close to the person I was six months ago, I wouldn't be the person I am today if it weren't for these experiences, and I wouldn't change a thing. However, these experiences have also taught me to take a look back and examine life for what it is. That said, I think that I can sum all of my life's experiences over the last six months, no matter how crazy, drastic, bizarre, or otherwise into the simple word of Appreciation. A lot of this may sound really cliché, and I'm sorry if that's the case, but these six months have taught me to appreciate everything you have in life, including the things you wouldn't really expect. I'm writing this all down in the hopes that people might be able to learn to appreciate things in life as much as I have over these last 6 months.

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Dijon, France

Appreciate New Opportunities

Not everyone in life is as lucky as you. Moving to Vail was a gift, and one that I was incredibly fortunate to have. My dad has talked for years about "retiring in the mountains someday". Sometimes, it sounds like it might happen for him someday, and other times it just sounds like this dream, one that he shares with many other people. I was lucky enough to live and work in Vail for 3 months, and it helped me grow tremendously as a person. I was able to live in the heart of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. I felt like I was taking advantage of it at the time, and I think I did, but I still don't think I appreciated it enough today.

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Sunset over Mt. Shavano from Salida, Colorado

Study Abroad. I was terrified when I was preparing for study abroad and I often questioned whether or not I'd make it. I convinced myself I'd be fine, and then got to Dijon and the first few days were really, really, tough. I was the only kid from Denver in Dijon and the only person I knew in the whole town. But I read a quote somewhere recently that we always fear what we don't know and what we don't understand, but those are always the experiences that we grow the most from. And as I sit here today, I am a walking, living, breathing testament to that. New opportunities in your life are something to be grateful for, even if they scare the crap out of you at first. Embrace them and make the most of them, and you'll be that much better of a person for it later.

Appreciate Life

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Sunrise on Mt. Antero from Mt. Princeton

I learned very quickly when moving to Vail how quickly life can change. When I was out hiking Mt. Antero one day, I ended up helping rescue a man who crashed his ATV and saving his life by taking care of the proper first aid steps and precautions after we pulled him from the river. It was a pretty scary experience and one I'll never forget. It changed me forever, that's for sure. Every time I think about things in the future now, banking on the idea that something will happen, or asking myself why I'm recertifying myself for CPR when I don't necessarily need it since I have most of those steps memorized now, I'm always reminded: Life can change in an instant and you could be dead tomorrow. I don't mean to be heavy with that, but it's true. I look at life differently these days because of what happened that day. So appreciate life and every moment of every day and make sure if you died tomorrow that you'd be happy with what you did today. (Don't kill yourself today in case you might die tomorrow though, that would be bad.)

Appreciate What's Given to You

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Salida, Colorado

After all of this life saving heroism drama story stuff happened, I got more than my 15 minutes of fame. I'm not the kind of person who likes to be in the spotlight, so it was a little shocking and weird for me, but cool in some ways too I guess. Regardless, appreciate the things in life that are given to you. I only told three close friends and my family about what happened the day it happened, completely content with moving on with the rest of my life as though it never happened. But instead of staying out of the spotlight my story was covered by newspapers, blogs, and magazines over and over again. I was in the Vail Daily newspaper two or three times for it, the Salida newspaper twice, a couple online blogs I didn't even know about, the DU blog, and now in the DU magazine which gets sent to over 100,000 people this month. It all still blows my mind, and definitely isn't something I asked for or expected as a result of what happened while I was out hiking. So, appreciate what's given to you. Not everyone in this world is as lucky.

Appreciate the Little Things

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Lionshead during a hike in Vail, Colorado

Some of you reading this probably live in Colorado, where we receive over THREE HUNDRED days of sunshine every year. Not the case in Dijon, or most places in Europe for that matter. I didn't realize how much I would miss that when I came to Europe. The same is true for mountains. We are too lucky to have mountains like we do in Colorado, and you can see them whether you're in Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs, driving i70, or anywhere in between. I missed those in Dijon. If you're near a window or an open area, go look at the mountains or the blue sky we have. Not everyone gets to enjoy it like we do. And needless to say, I'll probably never want to live anywhere other than Colorado now. - Maybe I'm lucky, but I miss things like having cell service on my iPhone all the time, having access to a car regularly, fast internet, or having a reasonable bed at night to sleep in. All of these things changed when I went to Europe, and you don't realize how much you enjoy these things until you no longer have them at your disposal. So, appreciate the little things, because they make all the difference sometimes.

Appreciate the United States of America

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Double rainbows over Beaver Creek, Colorado

Yeah, I said it. And whether you love or hate the way our country is run these days, once you live outside the country for an extended period of time, you'll learn to appreciate how lucky we all are to have what we do in our country. I considered myself somewhat patriotic before I left, but having lived in Europe for 3.5 months, I'm incredibly proud to represent the country that I do. Our political system, though it may seem screwed up at times, isn't anywhere near as bad as some stuff is in Europe, Africa, or other areas of the world. Talking to international students has taught me that. Appreciate the fact that you live in a culture and language that you know and *fully* understand. I can speak French, sure, and I know enough to get around, ask questions, convey my ideas, etc, but I am no where near fluent. The social norms and customs in Europe are incredibly different sometimes, both in France and in other countries, and be thankful that every day you understand things around you. It's not always that easy. By living in a culture that you understand you often times have the ability to "predict" in some ways the next move a person is going to make based on the situation, and I didn't have that in Europe. So, appreciate the fact that you do understand everything, and when you want to ask for something in a restaurant or while traveling, you're able to understand everything. I didn't realize how much I would miss that when I left the US in September.

Appreciate Your Friends

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Hôtel Dieu, Beaunne, France

When you live on the other side of the world from all of your friends, life can be a bit challenging. You will always have friends you can turn to, but you won't always have friends you can go to. Make the most of those moments while you're at home or when you have the chance to spend time with your friends. Appreciate the ones who make an effort to keep in touch while you're gone, too, they're the ones who matter the most. Not all friends are that awesome. Appreciate the new friends you make too. All of my friends I've made over here in Europe have been awesome, and I'm lucky to have them. We've shared some pretty wild and incredible travel adventures together and some wild nights together in Dijon too. Appreciate the times you have with them while you've got them there. I know I'm going to miss all my friends I made during study abroad when we all fly back home to our different parts of the globe.

Appreciate Your Family

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With my brother at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France

This kind of goes without saying, but I guess I always took it for granted that my family was a phone call away. It was always easy to call, text, get on the lightrail, drive, whatever, and see my family. When you're on the other side of the world, it's not quite so simple anymore, and the best you've got is Skype when you can find a way to line up the time differences. So make the most of the time that you have to spend with your family, whether they live close by or a 2 hour flight away. Having them visit me in France was awesome, and gave me a great appreciation for how important family is, something I undervalued while living at home and in Vail.

Appreciate Loved Ones

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A candle burns for my grandfather in this small Church at the top of Zermatt, Switzerland

This one kind of took me by surprise and wasn't something I expected, but I've had a number of travel experiences across all parts of Europe, high and low, that have reminded me of my grandfather who passed a couple years ago. I referenced a man in Italy who I met who reminded me of my grandfather, and I felt something special and surreal come over me when I was in Zermatt in the Swiss Alps that reminded me of him. If I could put my finger on what that was, I would. There are a few churches in Europe (Italy, Zermatt, France) where I lit candles and said a few prayers, if you can call it that. I'm still skeptical at times of religion and it's place in my life, but something out there was calling, so I lit the candles and said thanks in a moment of thought. The moments that reminded me of my grandfather were something very special. I'm lucky that he's the only close family member I've lost, but don't take that time for granted. I certainly won't from this day forward. It makes me wonder sometimes what I would say to him about the last six months of my life, what he would think, and what kind of hilarious jokes I'm sure he would make about all kinds of things I would tell him about. I wish I could have that back sometimes, so appreciate it in your life while you've got it because those people won't always be there.

Appreciate New Experiences

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Sunset on Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany

Traveling Europe isn't like traveling like the United States. The cultures are richer, older, deeper, and so much more diverse than the US it's incredible. And then you go to Africa and it's something completely different too in its own right. Traveling Europe has become one of the greatest things I've ever done with my life. I realize that's a bold statement to make, but it's true. I'm thousands of dollars poorer because of it, but my life is infinitely richer thanks to the new experiences I've had from it. While these experiences will no doubt throw you into situations that you aren't prepared for, appreciate them for what they are. When traveling Europe and so many different cultures, you learn to kind of just go with the flow and act like a sponge absorbing everything you can and accepting the experience for what it is. You will inevitably miss a train here or there, screw up a hostel reservation by being late, and be forced to eat new foods or take the subway systems in a city with the rest of the people who call that city their home. While these experiences are foreign and sometimes bizarre, they also teach you the most by exposing you to new cultures and walks of life that you may never have known existed. New experiences will shock you, terrify you, and sometimes break you down, but you'll be a broader and richer person afterwards as a result, so embrace them.

Summary

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Sunset over the Vatican from Rome, Italy

So there you have it. If I could pick one lesson that I've learned from the last six months of my life, it's to appreciate everything you've got around you. Living in Vail for three months expanded my horizons and changed me more as a person than I could have ever imagined. And then I jumped inside a metal tube with a couple bags of belongings for Europe, and my world and horizons exploded even more. These six months have taught me to appreciate a lot, and I guess on the flip side who and what in my life really matters to me and what I can live without. It's all been invaluable information to have learned at such a young age, and I hope to carry it forward with me every day for the rest of my life. Appreciate every minute of every day and everything about each of those moments. In closing, I want to use one of my favorite quotes of all time. I spend a lot of downtime reading a big fat 800 page book of mine (no, it's not that really long Harry Potter book) called The Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson. In one of his works he writes,

"To the attentive eye, each moment of the year has it's own beauty, and in the same field, it beholds, every hour a picture which was never seen before and which shall never be seen again." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

So, appreciate every moment of every day of your life. You may never have back what you have in that moment, whether its a loved one, family, friends, the little things, or your own life, and learn as much as you can from what's around you and what you have. I hope everyone who reads this gets something from it, even if it's just one tiny little thing. Feedback is welcomed too! Enlightening? Boring? Funny? Too cliché? Let me know, and hopefully I'll see you all around now that I'm back in the United States of America!

Ciao, au revoir, and God Bless!

--Scooter
--@scott_treks

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Posted by la vita bella 13:29 Tagged landscapes sunsets_and_sunrises mountains beaches bridges churches art skylines people parties snow boats trains castles beer cathedrals desert venice vienna tower paris hiking france culture history travel hotel bus colorado train trekking village river austria germany italy pisa backpack city aspen ski museum friends philippines florence garden cathedral life live country family africa love castle hostel creek rome photos language french hike roman wine torino smile morocco europe happiness painting camels gondola mtn vatican pantheon switzerland denver international pope housing schonbrunn tiergarten college dijon god united republic eye lionshead swiss colosseum student milano abroad alps munich forum business american vista bern panoramic boulder atv experiences sherman residence osprey trevi oktoberfest catholic ville cultures notre dame architechture potter marrakesh renaissance relationship eu buena lose caesar learn law gelato lyon scout solo study iphone agadir laugh learning strasbourg appreciation Comments (0)

Europe and Africa through the Eyes of my iPhone

A collection of my favorite mobile shots from my semester abroad

sunny 30 °F

I've spent the last three and a half months of my life studying abroad through University of Denver's Cherrington Global Scholars program, and a large part of that time has been spent out and about traveling Europe, exploring everything I can get my hands on, and soaking up as many new cultural experiences as I can. Armed with just my iPhone 4 camera, I've been photographing my travels and have somehow managed to compile over 1000 images alone, not including the awesome 360s I've been able to take. Below is my collection of over 100 of my favorite Camera+ iPhone 4 pictures (I don't use Instagram) from study abroad all over Europe, followed by my favorite 360 Panoramas, panoramic pictures, and a few other shots from my ending trip to Agadir, Morocco last weekend. Enjoy!

Pictures

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Dijon, France

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Paris, France

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Paris, France

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Paris, France

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Paris, France

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Paris, France

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Dijon, France

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Dijon, France

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Dijon, France

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Vienna, Austria

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Vienna, Austria

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Vienna, Austria

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Vienna, Austria

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Vienna, Austria

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Vienna, Austria

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Vienna, Austria

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Vienna, Austria

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Vienna, Austria

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Vienna, Austria

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Rome, Italy

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Rome, Italy

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Pisa, Italy

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Florence, Italy

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Florence, Italy

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Florence, Italy

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Florence, Italy

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Somewhere on a Train, Italy

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Venice, Italy

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Venice, Italy

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Venice, Italy

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Venice, Italy

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Venice, Italy

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Venice, Italy

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Venice, Italy

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Milan, Italy

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Florence, Italy

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Somewhere on a Train, Switzerland

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Zermatt, Switzerland

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Zermatt, Switzerland

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Zermatt, Switzerland

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Zermatt, Switzerland

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Zermatt, Switzerland

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Yours truly in Zermatt, Switzerland

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Mt. Pilatus, Switzerland

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Mt. Pilatus, Switzerland

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Mt. Pilatus, Switzerland

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Mt. Pilatus, Switzerland

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Mt. Pilatus, Switzerland

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Mt. Pilatus, Switzerland

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Mt. Pilatus, Switzerland

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Mt. Pilatus, Switzerland

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Luzern, Switzerland

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London, England

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London, England

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Yours truly in London, England

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London, England

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London, England

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London, England

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London, England

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London, England

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Paris, France

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Oktoberfest, Munich, Germany

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Oktoberfest, Munich, Germany

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Dijon, France

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Strasbourg, France

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Strasbourg, France

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Strasbourg, France

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Strasbourg, France

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Strasbourg, France

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Kehl, Germany

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Kehl, Germany

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Kehl, Germany

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Kehl, Germany

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Kehl, Germany

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Kehl, Germany

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Rome, Italy

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Rome, Italy

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Rome, Italy

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Rome, Italy

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Rome, Italy

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Rome, Italy

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Rome, Italy

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Rome, Italy

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Rome, Italy

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Milan, Italy

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Chambery, France

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Dijon, France

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Dijon, France

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Dijon, France

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Dijon, France

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Dijon, France

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Dijon, France

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Dijon, France

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Dijon, France

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Dijon, France

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Dijon, France

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Dijon, France

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Dijon, France

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Dijon, France

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Beaune, France

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Beaune, France

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Beaune, France

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Beaune, France

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Beaune, France

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Beaune, France

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Beaune, France

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Beaune, France

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Agadir, Morocco

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Agadir, Morocco

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Agadir, Morocco

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Agadir, Morocco

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Agadir, Morocco

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Agadir, Morocco

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Agadir, Morocco

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Agadir, Morocco

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Agadir, Morocco

360 Panoramas

Big ups to the awesome people at Occipital for creating the 360 Panorama app that's allowed me to take all of these 360 views of places I've traveled. Note: For an even better viewing experience, open these links on an iPhone, tap the gyroscope icon, stand up, and spin around.

Castles and Wine in Burgundy

Dijon Square

The Vatican

The Roman Circus Maximus

Oktoberfest in Munich

Atop the London Eye by Night

On top of Mt. Pilatus in Switzerland

Bluebird day in Zermatt, Switzerland

Venice, Italy

The Roman Colosseum by Night

The only thing there is to see in Pisa, Italy

Inside the Sistine Chapel in Rome

Inside the Roman Colosseum

Inside the Glass Louvre Pyramid

Wine for days in Burgundy. Who's thirsty?

Stand on a beach in Agadir, Morocco

Camel tour to a Moroccan Estuary and National Park

Panoramic Pictures

When I was bored in Paris one day, I decided to play around with the 360 app a little bit. I started taking half 360s within the app and then opened the raw files in the Photoshop Express app, allowing me to crop out the rounded edges on the images. I thought the results were pretty cool, so I started using the pair of apps to start taking larger panoramic pictures that wouldn't fit in a normal shot. My favorite shots with this technique are below.

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The Discovery, Paris, France

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Gare de Lyon Train Station, Paris, France

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Top of Mt. Pilatus, Switzerland

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Glaciers near Zermatt, Switzerland

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Zermatt, Switzerland

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Zermatt, Switzerland

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Venice by Day, Italy

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Venice by Night, Italy

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Florence, Italy

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Dueling Cameras above the Vatican in Rome, Italy

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The inside of the Dome at the Vatican in Rome, Italy

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Roman Ruins in Rome, Italy

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The Roman Colosseum by Night, Rome, Italy

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Mt. Pilatus, Switzerland
^^This is actually a full 360 from the top of Mt. Pilatus in Switzerland, but I thought it looked too cool to pass up^^

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Agadir, Morocco

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Agadir, Morocco

9,308 Miles Later...

...You have a map that looks something like this. Trains, planes, metros, subways, undergrounds, and maybe one or two buses later. Life's a blast.

And there you have it. Over 100 of my favorite photos, some of my favorite 360 Panoramas, and some panoramic pictures from traveling Europe, Africa, and study abroad, all taken from my simple little iPhone 4 camera, and a nifty little chronological map at the end. Traveling Europe has been one of the greatest things I've ever done with my life and I highly encourage everyone out there to do it at least once in your life if you have the opportunity. Let me know what you guys think of the photos!

Cheers!

--Scooter
--Follow me on twitter at @scott_treks!

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Posted by la vita bella 10:25 Tagged me landscapes waterfalls sunsets_and_sunrises mountains lakes beaches bridges churches art buildings skylines people parties animals sky snow night planes boats trains castles beer london cathedrals rivers desert venice vienna tower paris hiking france culture history travel hotel bus colorado train trekking river austria germany italy pisa backpack city ski museum friends philippines florence garden cathedral live country sculpture family africa castle circus hostel man rome photos language french hike eagle roman wine torino bike morocco europe happiness painting camels gondola mtn greek thames vatican graduation pantheon graffiti switzerland international pope schonbrunn tiergarten college dijon god german republic eye swiss grafitti latin colosseum student milano abroad alps michelangelo munich forum graffitti american ag bern chapel panoramic experiences trevi oktoberfest catholic ville cultures notre dame architechture marrakesh renaissance relationship tiber caesar jardin gelato lyon scout study iphone Comments (6)

Morocco

A Walk on the Wild Side

sunny 75 °F

Wow. What a trip is all I think I'll ever be able to really say about my 3 day trip in Morocco, but I want to share some of the experiences from the trip that have opened my eyes and affected me the most.

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Getting There

I left Dijon in France early Saturday morning to meet up with my four American friends who I've had the pleasure of traveling Europe with this semester. When we all arrived at the train station, we were waiting to see the platform number for our train to Lyon, and in France it's totally normal to not know your gate until 15 minutes before your train leaves. Well, our train never really arrived, or never left, rather. We never did figure out if it was due to a typical French strike or if was just "supprimé" just because, but we now had to take a later train to Lyon to catch our flight, leaving us with a tighter window in Lyon. I've learned to just kind of let go when traveling and let the adventure happen, especially in Europe and unfamiliar places, because you never really know what'll happen. You just have to relax and kind of go with the flow, or you'll get too stressed out and possibly forget something important... We had to wait a few hours for the next train which we passed laughing at all our stories we've collected from this semester together. When we eventually made it to the Lyon train station we had to take a tram out to the St. Exupery aeroport, a 25 minute ride plus the usual airport nonsense. All went smoothly and we arrived at the airport in plenty of time, but because my friend had checked a bag in Lyon for his flight out, guess what he left at the train station? His passport. Of all things you can do without when flying from Europe to Africa, your plane ticket and passport are the two things you can't. So it was time to form a plan B.

We all decided that he would go back to Lyon station to get his passport and attempt to make it for the flight while we went and waited for him at the gate. At the airport we had to go through 2 or 3 security checkpoints, and the passport check was miserable. No line, mob chaos, 6 stations with only 2 open (typical French efficiency), and the four of us only made the flight with a few minutes to spare. We waited there on the plane twittling our thumbs hoping he'd show....but minutes later the flight was off and we were without our partner. I was pretty sad since I knew how bad he wanted to go on this trip, and the most frustrating part was none of us had means of contacting him to figure out where he was since we're not in our native country and phone service/wifi can be hard to get. It was a smooth flight with a beautiful sunset over the Mediterranean Sea, and 3 hours later we landed at Al Massira Agadir airport in Morocco. I had officially landed on a fourth continent!

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We proceeded to take a cab to our hostel hotel only a few hundred yards away from the beach. This marks experience number one for me. If you've ever seen videos of traffic problems or wild traffic patterns in Africa in class or on the Internet, well, it really does look like that. There are medians and lanes, but no one uses them. Our cab driver drove right down the middle of the two lanes! Whenever he needed to pass he just flashed his brights and cars would move over. And most of the cars are old beat up clunkers that feel like they're going to break down every 5 seconds from the jerking while riding. All of the road signs were interesting too. Because Morocco (le Maroc) was a French colony once, all of the people there speak Arabic as their primary language but know French as well. Because Arabic is read right to left, all signs read French from left to right and Arabic from right to left. It was pretty cool to see. Half an hour later, we arrived at our hostel hotel (which was really nice and cheap too, pool, balcony, beach view, free wifi, 10€/night) and immediately jumped on the wifi to message our travel partner to figure out where he ended up. Very long story short, he ended up back in Dijon, never attempted to make the flight, and had already booked a flight out of Paris for Agadir for the next day. I was pretty excited to have him join us, but it meant that we needed to get all of our "forgetting something?" and "boom roasted!" jokes out before he arrived. We ordered room service for the night since the area around us looked kinda iffy at night and crashed, safely and soundly in Morocco, Africa.

The Moroccan Sun

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Sunday was a lazy day for the four of us, which was a really nice change from most of our travels. Europe is so packed with things to see and do that you can never really see everything, so being able to relax and hang out was really nice. We got up around 11am, and headed to the boardwalk and the beach. I haven't been to a beach in a while since I'm definitely more of a mountains and snow guy than a sand and the ocean guy, but let me tell you, this place was gorgeous. The sand was a little bit more orange colored than most of the beaches I've been too (from what I can remember), and of course I had to go stand in the ocean. I think I might have been the only of my friends who actually went and stood in the water, but I figured life is too short not to stand in the ocean on an African beach, and I'll probably never be back. So, Chaco flips in hand, I ran around in the waves on the beach. The pictures turned out really well too, which I've linked at the end of this entry. That afternoon our travel partner arrived, and now that we were a complete group, we decided to venture out a little bit.

The Souk

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This marked culture experience number two for me here. I'm sure most people don't even what a Souk is, but it's a traditional Moroccan market place of sorts where you can buy almost anything. It's partly open air, partly covered, loaded with souvenirs, trinkets, foods, black market goods, fake bags and shoes, and everyone is in complete Islamic attire. Wowee wowzers. I felt pretty uncomfortable in there at times, but I kept reminding myself that I didn't go to Africa and Morocco to feel comfortable, I went to take a step out of my comfort zone at times, eat weird foods, see a new part of the world, and learn and grow a little bit bigger as a person. The place was crazy. Agadir is loaded with shop vendors eager for your money, and it's not quite as easy to hide as in Europe since we're all white and obviously not Muslim, so we were hesitant to talk to people who approached us. But, a very nice man who works for the government of Morocco gave us a nice short tour of the Souk, and didn't ask for money afterwards. I also considered it an accomplishment that I spoke French to him initially and he didn't guess correctly that I was from the US until after trying France, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand first. I was weary to let on to anyone we were Americans while we were there for fear of being judged, so I played the French card as much as possible on the trip. This brings me to another observation.

On our way to the Souk when we refused to take directions from a Moroccan (since he was probably going to ask for money after), he called us all racists. It's really depressing me that the world feels the need to judge people, anyone for that matter, in any way. You either talk to the man and take his directions to get to the Souk where he asks for money and you lose, or you refuse and he calls you racists for refusing to talk to him. Saying no isn't an option with these people either, it's more of an invitation for them to try harder to sell you. The media today plays up stereotypes and creates false perceptions of people often times in areas of the world that they don't understand. You always fear what you don't understand, but that doesn't mean it's bad for you or even wrong in any way. I wish people would stop judging. We met plenty of very helpful and nice Moroccan people who were delighted to talk to us about America and why we had chosen to visit their country. It's too bad, really. Not all Americans think every turban wearing guy or woman in full Muslim dress is sent to blow up a car in a town near you these days. I should add that it's pretty fascinating to spend time in a country where Islam is the national religion too. Every room has a sign somewhere that points the direction to Mecca, and during the day you can hear loudspeakers come on with a call to prayer and sometimes people just stop to pray. It's a pretty mind blowing experience to me. I don't agree with their religion necessarily, but to see someone's devotion to their faith can be a powerful thing sometimes, and I think it's always important to understand where someone is coming from too because it helps you better understand why you believe what you believe. And if you can't justify why you believe what you believe, then, well, what do you really believe in anyways?

The Camel Ride

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Monday afternoon we had reserved a 5 person camel tour, since we all thought it would be insanely cool to "ride camels in Africa". And, it was. And, we took tons of hilarious pictures that I'm sure will soon be on Facebook... But the camel experience was something pretty special in a lot of other ways too. We rode the camels through a little bit of a desert, national park, to a bird estuary, and through some small African villages. First, the bird estuary and national park on the Sous River was gorgeous. I've never been anywhere quite like it. It was kind of like the stuff you see in Planet Earth in some ways, but to actually be there was amazing. And the African sky is just...unique. It's different and unlike anywhere I've ever been, too. We rode through some African villages on our way back too, which was eye popping in an incredible way. On our left side we had a walled up lush, green, golf course with gorgeous sweeping views of the mountains near Agadir, on our right we had fences where African villages were, and around our path there was trash. Tons of trash. It was striking to me how polar the world is sometimes. We continued forward into another village where kids were kicking around a soccer ball, women were hang drying clothes, and men we in shops. Buildings were just concrete and cement blocks, most of which had wavy tin rooftops held down by more concrete blocks. And around all of it - was trash. It was a, although brief, look into the world that some people live in. I mean, it wasn't your typical commercial of starving kids in Africa who are paper thin and dying where they ask you to call and make a donation, but it was pretty eye opening. It fascinates me to think that that's the way of life for some people, and yet we listen to people in American complain sometimes about stuff. Never again. It's a reminder to how lucky some of us really are. At the end of the ride we parked our camels at a fence, yes- parked our camels, and enjoyed some traditional Moroccan tea before heading back to our hostel hotel.

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Meals with Friends

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We headed out for dinner on the boardwalk shortly after arriving back at our place (and after posting our obnoxious camel pictures on Facebook and Twitter, of course). I decided that for dinner I should probably try some traditional Moroccan food, so I ordered a Tajine, which ended up being really good. We were able to watch the African sun set over the water on our way to the beach too, which was gorgeous. We had had lunch earlier in the day on the boardwalk as well, so the dinner topped off one hell of an amazing day with friends. It hit me again how polar the world can be though, it's all happy and fun on the beach and the boardwalk (minus the panhandlers) but half an hour away it's poverty and a fight to live day to day. I was awesome to enjoy such good meals and scenery on the beach with friends though, since we all have to part ways tonight to fly home this week. I'm going to miss these kids, that's for sure, but hopefully we'll all be able to visit each other though, since we all live in the same country at least.

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The Journey Home, or, Europe, Rather.

Tuesday morning we all woke up much too early to catch a cab to the airport, which again was somewhat eye opening. We got to see the sunrise from the cab, but drove through some pretty rough looking areas. Again, concrete apartment buildings, many without windows. Trash was everywhere, and people were all standing around at what appeared to be a bus stop. The apartment buildings were unfinished concrete walls, and in some ways resembled a bird coop in ways, grey, dull, dirty, boring, and darkness inside the window without a window pane. It was amazing to see something like that. Shortly thereafter we arrived at the airport, passed all security and passport check points (yippee! no more visa drama or Préfécture visits!) and are now sitting on board a plane back to Lyon. Hopefully we have smooth travels from here back to Dijon where we'll all have to say our goodbyes and part ways to head back to the good ole US of A in a couple days (Africa today, Europe tomorrow, North America Thursday...woo!). It's going to feel good to be home, no doubt, but I wanted to write an entry on my short time in Africa that has taught me so much more than I expected. I left Dijon knowing next to nothing about Morocco and Agadir and attempted to let down all walls and become a sponge to absorb as much as I could from the new cultural experience. I think I succeeded, and I hope you've gotten a few things out of my experiences too.

Cheers!

--Scooter
--@scott_treks

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Picture Gallery

Photo Album

360s

Stand on the beach in Agadir

The camel tour at the estuary and National Park

Posted by la vita bella 10:22 Archived in Morocco Tagged landscapes sunsets_and_sunrises mountains lakes beaches bridges churches buildings skylines people animals birds sky snow night planes boats trains rivers desert paris hiking france culture history travel hotel bus train trekking village river backpack friends garden life live country family africa love hostel photos language french bike morocco europe happiness camels mtn graduation denver international college dijon eye student abroad american chapel panoramic atv experiences residence osprey catholic cultures marrakesh relationship lose learn lyon scout study teva iphone agadir laugh learning euros 360 scouting scouts nigeria girlfriend esc camera+ francophone sncf listen Comments (1)

My 6 L's to Happiness

Found again at last

rain 45 °F

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Over 2 years ago in the summer of 2009, I spent 3 weeks in a place called Philmont. For those who aren't familiar with Philmont, it's a Boy Scout high adventure base in New Mexico just south of the New Mexico and Colorado border. I took part in an 11 day backpacking trek there in the summer 2007 and fell in love with the place. It's been nicknamed "God's Country" by many, and I'll tell you, they don't call it that for nothing. I returned in 2009 as part of a 3 week Rayado trek with 7 other guys who I had never met, but are some of my best friends now because of the things we accomplished together during those 3 weeks. Those 3 weeks were the best experience of my life to date, and has only been rivaled since by my study abroad experience. We'll see where the two stack up when I get home in a couple weeks and can have a chance to reflect. On this 3 week experience, our two staff guides immersed us in what would be known as the "Solo" experience.

During the morning of this solo experience, all maps, compasses, watches, and GPS devices were removed from our 8 person crew. We soon veered off a trail and down ravines and over some hills. I still to this day don't have the slightest clue where in God's Country (or in God's name for that matter) we were taken. The guides split the 8 of us up, one by one, in complete and utter silence. We were all taken to random places and given a water bottle, sleeping bag, journal, and tent rain fly. Nothing more. With the exception of when they brought me small amounts of food, I passed the next 48 hours until they returned alone. I knew we were at around 10,000 feet altitude, but that was about it. It rained twice, and was a constant struggle to keep the shelter I built from blowing away to keep my down sleeping bag dry, essential for warmth during the night.

During these 48 hours, I wrote a lot in that journal, which I took with me to Europe during my semester abroad. Unfortunately, one of the things that I did not write down were the 6 L's to Happiness that I came up with while I was there during that solo experience. I remembered them for the rest of that trip but for some reason never wrote them down. I couldn't remember them when I got home months later, and then they came back to me at one point, but I forgot to write them down, again. I told them to an old girlfriend at one point, but she doesn't have them anymore either since they were erased when we parted ways last year. Every now and then I try to remember what they are, and all I can come up with is Live, Love, Laugh, and Learn, which is all over Google and every high school girl's tumblr page. But for whatever reason when I was in Paris with my family last week for a few days, they all came back to me. All six. So I quickly wrote them down, and I wanted to write a short blog about them in the hopes that you'll save them somewhere too instead of losing them for 2 years like I did. This was one of the greatest things I got out of Rayado, one of the greatest experiences of my life, so I hope you'll get as much from these as I did and still do.

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My friend caught me sleeping on a beautiful morning on Rayado

Live

One of the questions that keeps coming to mind as a wrap up my time in Europe and my study abroad experience and look back at these 3.5 months is, would I be happy with what I did today and the way I lived today if I died tomorrow? It seems like an extreme question to ask sometimes, but I try to remind myself of it as often as I can now. Instead of taking all the short cuts in life to get to where you're going faster, why not take the long road? Why not see what's around that other corner instead of walking home the normal way. Sometimes life's greatest adventures and experiences are right around the corner, and you'll never find them if you don't take a chance and look. Take chances, take risks, and do your best to make sure that when you wake up tomorrow morning, you don't have any regrets about today.

One of my favorite quotes from my 800 page Ralph Waldo Emerson book reads as follows, "My life is for itself and not for a spectacle." I think you should strive to live your life every minute of every day exactly the way you want it to be lived. You should live it for what you want it to be and not for what anyone else thinks it should be. When I look at my life sometimes, I question myself for how true I am being to myself. And if you're not and you're letting other people make decisions for you when you know you'd rather be doing something else, you aren't living your life, you're living the life someone else would rather see you live. It's something worth thinking about to me, and I do my best to make sure I live my life the way I want it to be lived so when I get old some day I don't have a lot of regrets.

Someone read me a quote recently and I don't remember where it was from exactly, but I found it to be especially useful to me as I'm preparing to graduate from college in 6 months: "Don't be so concerned with making a living that you forget to live." It's pretty simple honestly, but it's something that so many people forget about in this rush to work society we live in. Everyone is so concerned with making a living, getting the highest paying job they can, and falling into a routine of constant work that they forget to live sometimes. I hope to have a decent job when I graduate, but if I'm more concerned with the monthly paycheck than enjoying what it is I'm being paid to do, something isn't right to me. Remember to Live.

Laugh

They say that life is better if you just remember to smile every now and then, and I think it's true. (How many of you just smiled?) Laughing is part of smiling, and I think it's important to laugh as much as you can. Life is meant to be enjoyed! So if you're not laughing and smiling, you're doing something wrong. I also think it's important to laugh not just at the world around you (in a good way) and funny moments, but it's important to laugh at yourself sometimes. Don't be too hard on yourself and don't take life too seriously that you forget to laugh at yourself and have some fun. Remember too that no one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes. If you make a mistake, try to laugh at yourself next time, learn from it, and move on. It's good for you, I promise. I never met a happy person who didn't know how to laugh from time to time, so try it.

Love

This goes hand in hand with so many things. Love your family, love your friends, love what you do (if you don't, find something else to do), but I think when looking at those things, you first have to love yourself and your life, and love it for what it is. If you can do this first, the rest will follow and be infinitely more rewarding. Love your family because when everything else in life falls, they'll still be standing there with you. Love your friends, because they've always got your back, and you learn so much from them. You only get into something what you put in, so love your family and love your friends and you'll be loved in return. And if you're not, you've got the wrong friends.

Listen

This is one of the ones that I came up with on my own to add to the L idea, largely because I was alone in the woods for 48 hours by myself. You listen to things around you subconsciously, and you learn a surprising amount of things sometimes if you just take a minute to stop and listen to the world around you. With listening comes learning too, which I keep mentioning and will get to at the end. I think it's important to listen to not only what's around you (for me that was in nature at the time), but also to listen to the people around you. Friends. Family. You learn from them more than you think. Listen to what they have to say and value their insight, it will benefit you later in life. Listen to your parents too. You won't always want to and you won't always agree with what they have to say (I know I still don't), but they have your best interests in mind and are there to protect you. So whether you want to or not, listen to them. Sometimes listening to friends, family, or nature around you brings peace too if you let it in, so I think it's important to listen to what's around you to find happiness.

Lose

This is the second of the six that I came up with on my own during that solo time, and might seem kind of odd to some. How is losing a step to finding happiness? But for me it's like a lot of other things in life, when you're broken down you tend to build yourself back up stronger and better prepared for next time. You learn from nearly everything you'll ever lose, whether it's a family member you wish you could have spent more time with or a your keys at a party because you drank too much. If you never lose anything, you'll never learn how to be better prepared for next time, and you'll never build yourself back up as a stronger person in the future. It's also really cliché to say, but if you never lose something you'll never know how much (or how little) you really had in the first place. So I think it's important to lose sometimes to find happiness, especially at those rare moments in life when you lose something and realize how much happier you are without it. But you wouldn't have known that without losing something in the first place. It breaks us down but allows us to come back stronger and better for it. Part of losing though is learning to pick yourself back up.

Learn

Everything I've already mentioned seems to come back to this somehow. You have to be willing to lose to learn how to pick yourself back up. If you listen to what's around, you'll learn from what's around and hopefully learn how to take from those experiences and incorporate them into your own life. You learn from your family and you learn from your friends, and you learn from loving them in many ways. You learn from your own mistakes and you learn how to avoid them in the future. You learn from everything you do in life, and knowledge is power. The more you learn and know, the happier you can be. Try to learn as much as you can from the people and the world around you, it'll help you figure out who you are a lot of times and will make you happier as a result.

Find Happiness

So in summary, if you want to find happiness, it starts here with these. Live, laugh, love listen, lose, and learn. I don't think I've found anything that made me happy in my life that can't be somehow traced back to these simple ideas. They serve as a nice reminder and reality check sometimes too. I try to continually reevaluate my life week in and week out to make sure I'm where I want to be and if I'm not happy with something I want to know why so I can understand it and hopefully fix it. It always comes back to these. I hope people have enjoyed reading this, and if anyone has any feedback or comments on this idea I'd love to hear them too! Too cliché? Funny? Dumb? Thoughtful? Enlightening? Different?

Au revoir!

--Scooter

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Posted by la vita bella 07:04 Archived in France Tagged landscapes waterfalls sunsets_and_sunrises mountains churches skylines people trees snow night rivers paris hiking france travel colorado trekking river backpack aspen ski friends philippines life live country family love man creek rome hike eagle smile happiness mtn denver international college god student abroad american boulder experiences sherman relationship lose learn scout solo study iphone laugh learning prepared shavano princeton scouting scouts girlfriend esc listen rayado philmont Comments (5)

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