life lessons learned from travel | Jenn of Near + Far

travel changes you, and teaches you things. but you don't have to leave those lessons on the road. Jenn of Near and Far Montana traveled all over the world before settling down in Montana for a farm life. now she's using those lessons learned in her 20s to adjust to a new life in a not-so-far away but definitely different setting.

During my senior year of college, I studied abroad in New Zealand. The trip involved months of paperwork, research, preparation and packing. While there, I was a good student focused on my purpose -- learning. But I also learned how to travel solo.

I researched and booked my own trips about the South Island and later the North Island. During a study break, while everyone else was prepping for exams, I hopped a plane to Australia for two weeks.

After coming back, I was interning in Virginia and the bosses couldn’t seem to make a decision about whether to hire me or not. So I told them that while they were figuring that out, I was going to London for two weeks.

On that flight that I realized I really could pick a place, pack a bag and go anywhere in the world. I didn’t need anyone else’s permission. I didn’t need to wait for someone to go with me. I didn’t need to plan forever or wait for everything to be perfect.

I just needed to go.

For most of my 20s, that was a huge part of my life. New Zealand, Australia, London, Peru, Slovenia, Paris, Italy, Chile. I went exploring, adventuring, wandering. I went when and where I wanted. And I went alone.

Then I moved to Montana in 2013. The same year I turned 30.

I moved to be with a boy. Then we bought a house. Then we got chickens. Now we’re looking at more animals and starting a small farm.

I’d never been to Montana and I call myself a Virginia girl. It may be the U.S., but it really is far from home.

Two years in and I still find myself struggling to understand my town some days. They have a different history, experience and a perspective that’s often a near opposite of an East Coaster.

I’m finding that while I may be in my own country, I can apply all those lessons travel taught me in my 20s.

Our pace isn’t as frantic as it was on my two-week adventures around entire countries, but the boyfriend and I are slowly exploring Montana. Our travels are less about sights and more about getting out of town, into nature now.

If I want to leave the country on an adventure, boyfriend would be fine with that, but with animals and crops and a house, there’s more to consider when I feel the urge to book a flight.

There’s still so many places that I long to see, but I know I could also spend a lifetime exploring the wild outdoors of Montana.

I’m learning a slower way of exploring, of immersing myself deeper into a new place than I’ve ever done as an adult – I’m not counting moving a lot as a military kid since it was all about making friends at school.

What might be the biggest change is learning how to do all this exploring with another person. A person who’s travel style is so different from my own.

I may not get to travel abroad as often as I’d like to these days, but all those lessons learned in far off places are helping me better connect with what is now my home. To be able to manage those feelings of home sickness, to explore like a tourist when I can, to make fast friends like I would abroad, to have a sense of place and to let all of that continue molding me into a person who will never stop exploring.

Jenn is an East Coast girl blogging at Near and Far Montana about making a life out west. By day she's a newspaper reporter and spends the rest of her time chasing puppies, feeding chickens and teaching kids to figure skate.

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