Hi there! My name is Danielle and I’m the new c21 intern. I love all things sports, crafts, traveling and doggos. Welcome to my blog post!
When you were younger, did your parents always tell you to try new things? Well, mine sure did. Although the steadiness of routine can be comforting, exploring new places, tasting new foods
, and encountering new experiences is exhilarating! I grew up playing every sport you could imagine (go ahead, name one I didn’t try, I promise it’s not possible). I tried new cuisines in new places, and my college degree is more than a mouthful. I knew what society expected of me, but I did not know what I truly wanted. So, what better way to find out than by trying everything under the sun!
A little background on me: I was born and raised in Georgia and attended undergraduate at UGA. I got my BBA in Marketing and International Business as a co-major, a minor in Sport Management and a certificate in Personal and Organizational Leadership Advancement (told you it was a mouthful). I went to the most academically rigorous high school in the state and the competition to be the best student was what fueled my success. I was involved in many extra-curriculars and sports, took nine AP classes and I spent what little free time I had volunteering, studying, taking lessons and raising/training a service animal (peep my sweet baby above). In college, I served in leadership positions in every club I joined, trying to diversify my portfolio. To even be considered for a good school or job, I had to push myself to the limit. But isn’t that how it goes nowadays?
Honestly, while my first two years in college were amazing, I felt like I had no purpose or direction going into my junior year. That was when I decided that I needed to get out of that unhealthy mindset and situation and jump into a new environment. I took my chances and moved in with a 70-year-old French woman, named Lucette, in Aix-en-Provence, where I feasted on homemade ratatouille and provincial rosés and became fluent over nightly dinner conversations. Being able to walk through the lavender fields, swim in the turquoise waters of Lac St. Croix, and share a $1 glass of wine with a group of friends looking over the Mediterranean Sea was absolutely magical. That summer after my junior year was the most clarifying and harmonious time I have ever had, and it profoundly changed my life.
When the pandemic hit, I was finishing my senior year of college, and living at home was draining the life out of me. So, I packed my bags and moved to Toulouse, France to pursue a master’s degree in Marketing, Management and Communications. The pandemic made it incredibly hard to enjoy my time, especially with France’s extensive restrictions. After I had finished my classes, I decided it was time to come home and be around people again. Even though it was difficult being alone most of the time (I am 100% an extrovert), I learned so much about myself and gained an abundance of independence. I will, however, need a redo with a French vacation in the post-Covid era.
Stepping out of the box has led me to volunteer in Africa, give a speech at the Global Youth Leadership Conference in Taiwan, study abroad on the French Riviera and move to Europe in the middle of a global pandemic. Traveling takes you out of your element and throws you into a new, healthier, happier mindset. And with all the pressures and competition we face today, sometimes it’s best to log off and go off the grid for a bit to recharge. Venturing outside of your comfort zone can be scary, but every experience is a good experience because you learn something from each one.
If you’re feeling lost or overwhelmed, here are some of my favorite places to find yourself and your own path, separate from society’s expectations.
- Provence, France
Provence is in the southeast of France near the coast. Known for its tasty rosés and beautiful landscapes, it is sure to whisk you away from reality. Fresh markets flood the streets daily and each village has its own unique style. My favorite parts of Provence were Gorges du Verdon, the Valensole lavender fields, views of the Mediterranean Sea and culture in Aix-en-Provence.
- Cinque Terre, Italy
The Cinque Terre is located on the northern coast of Italy and is a strand of hike-able islands overflowing with colorful houses and restaurants. My favorite island was Riomaggiore because it wasn’t as crowded as others and had amazing views!
- Kruger Park, South Africa
Kruger National Park is one of Africa’s largest wildlife reserves, home to all the Big 5: lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffalos. Kruger is a great place to go to get off the grid and see an array of animals!
- Taipei, Taiwan
Taiwan holds a special place in my heart. The small island boasts unbelievable culture and spectacular views – not to mention all the great shopping and food! The locals are so friendly and love showing off and practicing their English skills.
- Toulouse, France
Ah, la ville rose… Toulouse, located in southwest France (very close to Spain) is known as the “pink city” and gets its nickname from all the reddish-orange buildings in town. The Garonne River flows through the center and young people flood the streets. Enjoy the ambiance at a local café or sit by the river and drink a beer.
- Amsterdam, The Netherlands
In springtime, the outskirts of Amsterdam, the Netherlands’ capital, are filled with tulips, making for amazing views and photos. Canals flow through the inner city and bikes are the primary source of transportation. Letting off steam is the focus in Amsterdam, so it is the perfect place to visit to enjoy the day.
- Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona is buzzing with culture and life! City life, beach life or mountain life – Barcelona has it all! My favorite activities and places to decompress were hiking up to bunkers, eating paella on the beach or simply strolling through the Gothic Quarter.