Traveling Helps Us Find Our Identity
Posted 11/30/2016 10:00AM

By Ekaterina Plotnikova ’18

Every journey we take teaches us a life lesson. There is never a time when at some point you look back in the past and realize you haven’t changed. Every little piece of information you found, every place you have been to, and every person you met played a role in your life. These little trips that you take every day determine your identity. As time passes you evaluate your character and how much you have grown. Sometimes you need to do that more often, as you start appreciating more of what you have and deserve.

For me my memorable life journey commenced when I started traveling with my parents. Visiting places in Europe made my ethical background change due to the cultural adaptations. One of the places I think of the most was Paris, France. Back when I was learning French in my old American school, my classmates and I had an opportunity to visit Paris for a week to practice the speaking part of the language. I did not have any of my close friends on the trip, but I still enjoyed it. It was there that I recognized my passion for humanities. The fascination appeared when I first saw Notre-Dame de Paris, which is fully designed in the gothic style. I was pleased by looking at the famous gargoyles, which are built to frighten off the ghosts that can ruin the palace. The reason why I paid so much attention to them was because I had created my own gargoyle in art class, researching about it long before coming to Paris.

TASIS Trip to Cyprus, Fall 2016

Another passion of mine was Italy. I remember trying pizza for the first time as a chubby little girl. I enjoyed it so much in my childhood that now I almost despise the meal. I still like the Italian food because it’s not heavy and simple to make. Of course it depends on who cooks it. Traveling to the south of Italy in my youth was a wonderful experience. I first learned that Italians can be very loud but also very heartwarming. Everything they do seems to be made with love. That is what changed my personality and how I treat my dearest and nearest. Now that I’ve discovered that culture, I try to take care of my parents more. I call them often, I help my mother in the kitchen any time I can, and I spend time with my father whenever I can—traveling and telling him about my learning experiences at school. Every kind heart can show love and care, and so did mine in southern Italy.

Trip to Venice

I had an opportunity to return to Italy last year when I went on a Drawing and Painting Academic Travel trip to Venice. There I learned how grateful I should be for having such beautiful possibilities of traveling with school. Venice was a beautiful city to sketch. In our groups we also walked around the Grand Canal and the Piazza San Marco and visited the Venice Biennale and a few museums. I enjoyed every moment of our trip, and I also got to improve my artistic skills. That was my first time in Venice, and I just loved traveling everywhere by boat. Those boats (vaporettos) were the main public transport in the city, and they were usually full of a lot of interesting people. I was so fascinated by all the artists, painters, and photographers on the boats. Some of them were quite old but still loved Venice and portrayed it any time they could. I always let them take my seat since the boats were crowded and small. The people just seemed very grateful and overwhelmed by my small act of kindness, and those positive feelings would stay with me for the rest of the day.

Looking back at my national and ethnical background, I can make similar observations about Greece. I am half Greek, and when my grandmother was alive, she taught me the basics of her culture. She was always a very warm and hospitable woman. She taught me to find mistakes in my own behavior and not to blame others. Whenever I think about how people treat me, I change my own attitude towards them, so our relationship gets improved. I always look back at my behavior, and analyze why certain things happen in my life. That is how I learned from her to become a better person, and now every time I visit my origin I remember my grandmother and always associate this vivid memory only with sympathetic feelings.

TASIS Trip to Cypus

Every place you visit brings you emotions and memories. Depending on the experience, you look back and realize that you either gained some positive or challenging memories, but either way you never lose them.

My recent trip to the Greek part of Cyprus with TASIS was in some ways a challenging experience. In every place I have learned something new and exciting, and Cyprus was not an exception. We went with our ecology class to study the fish ponds, biomass, and streams. This was an interesting activity for us because we got to put our classroom learning to use in a practical way and stay outside most of the time under the warm sun. The weather was pleasant, and the sea had a very appealing marine blue color. Yet the trip was challenging due to the absence of civilization. It was a very small Greek village that I would have never expected to visit. There were no foreign people, only an older Greek generation. The village is so tiny that every time a person dies, a bell rings. We heard that bell, and it felt like we were already a part of the community. Some sorrowful emotions appeared in our hearts, and we have not forgotten them.

Every place you visit brings you emotions and memories. Depending on the experience, you look back and realize that you either gained some positive or challenging memories, but either way you never lose them. Traveling helps us find our identity. Because of my passion for traveling, exploring new information, and analyzing it, I now know how much I enjoy history, art, and humanities overall. I will never forget any of my experiences. They will always stay in my heart and shape my culture and identity.

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