As I sit here, just 18 hours after arriving back in The States, the land where everything is accessible, everyone speaks my language, and the economy is booming, I think of the rest of the world and the people in it. There are so many things in this world that I would change. So many things that are frustrating. But the ironic part of it all is that everywhere I go, and everywhere that I’ve been, it seems we all have a common mission. We all want to smile more, help others more, and improve life for the next generation. There are fighters all over the world. And there are emotions in every person I’ve crossed paths with.

There’s frustration in understanding each other. There’s a huge frustration in language barriers, and there’s a frustration with not being to express ourselves clearly. How can our world be completely peaceful if we can’t even explain our intents or our points of view to the person sitting on the train next to us, going to the same place? I’ve learned that an amazing amount can be communicated with hand signals and smiles. But is this really enough? I want to hear people’s stories, something that will be impossible with the majority of people in the world.

The world has become full of invisible borders, lines drawn in an imaginary space dictating who can visit where and who is privileged to live certain lifestyles. I’m fortunate to travel with a US passport, something I’ve taken for granted until this past trip. And if my ancestors hadn’t taken the tough journey to a land unknown a few hundred years ago, my story might be completely different. Traveling through the many countries I’ve visited, seeing people that looked just like me and could have been my family, I realized that I simply got lucky. I was born in between two lines that have given me more than the person serving me my coffee in Romania will ever have. It’s not how people should be living. We should all be given the opportunities to visit other parts of the world and live different lifestyles. I can’t change that, but I can certainly make sure I use the unfair advantages and live them to the fullest. We all should be – we are very lucky.

11215511_10102951220532360_1601871236931681377_n12341495_10102957356460910_3926676215077241271_nAs I lugged my bags through the airport yesterday and dumped the contents on the floor when I arrived at my mom’s for the holidays, I realized that I didn’t use half of the things in my bag. I realized that for the past six weeks, I needed very little. My life was simple only having a few shirts to choose from, and like all studies suggest, I was happier having less ‘stuff.’ I’ve always been a semi-minimalist, having one set of earrings, just a few basic t-shirts, and a single kitchen pan. I know that it isn’t the ‘things’ in my life that are making me happy; it’s the experiences. My sister has offered her wardrobe to me until we get settled and pull our things out of storage. But, I’m perfectly comfortable wearing the same gray sweater I’ve worn for the last six weeks. It keeps me warm and serves the purpose of a shirt. True beauty comes from within, and I’m glowing on the inside right now.

So as I start yet another new adventure, where I know there will be ramps and accessible bathrooms everywhere I go, I count my blessings that I’ve been given the path I have. That I was born where I was, that I speak the language I do, and that the world is my oyster. The world is a place full of stories and adventures. On to the next!

Please feel free to read Tony’s perspective of our trip at



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