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Watch out, it’s cold and flu season and I heard that wanderlust is pretty contagious. The summer after my junior year of high school (Summer 2015) I was blessed to with the opportunity to travel to Guatemala. Upon returning home, I was diagnosed with a severe case of wanderlust. Some would argue that I caught wanderlust before apply to be a Wandering Scholar. Some of the main symptoms of wanderlust include: an urge to expand culture horizons, a will to step beyond comfort zones, and a desire to gain a global perspective of the world.

Growing up in a single-parent household my family didn’t have extra money to take leisurely spring, summer, and winter vacations. As a result, I grew up only knowing Wisconsin and its’ adjacent states. Being a Wandering Scholar has opened my mind to new opportunities, become intercultural aware, and increased my global perspective.

I am now a freshman at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studying Food Science with a certificate in Environmental and Community Sociology.  This past Winter Break, I was blessed with the opportunity to visit Israel.  My trip to Israel was a gift from UW-Hillel and Shorashim Israel. I went to Israel because I wanted to explore and learn more about my cultural and religious identity. The pre-departure planning was similar to The Wandering Scholar. Leading up to the trip I actively engaged in cultural, language, and “current news” immersion.  I immersed myself with Israeli Culture and News, attended weekly Shabbat Dinners and services, and attended an introductory Hebrew language course. None of this was mandatory, I made the personal choice to participate in these pre-trip activities because I knew it would  make my trip more engaging and meaningful to me.

I am thankful that the Wandering Scholar helped me gain pre-departure planning, autonomy, intercultural-communication skills, and global exposure. I’ve said this before, but being a Wandering Scholar doesn’t end at the designated “10-week” mark. Everyday, I carry the skills and values that I learned from my adventure a Wandering  Scholar with me. I’ve  learned how to take responsibility for my own learning by setting goals and work towards them. In addition, I learned to be globally aware through appreciating and understanding cultural differences.

My trip to Israel was fantastic! It was a great end to 2016 and a wonderful start to 2017. Isreali culture is vibrant and fascinating, however I was surprised by the long plane ride. It is a fourteen-hour plane ride from Newark, New Jersey to Tel Aviv, Israel. After calculating domestic plane flights and anticipated delays it takes about 20-24 hours to travel to Israel. No matter how much pre-trip planning, it is very difficult to avoid jetlag.

My number one travel tip to first time travelers is to bring battery packs a (for phones, tablets, and e-readers) and a universal wall adaptor. There is nothing worse than being on a domestic/international flight that doesn’t have outlets under the seats. Or even worst hoovering over the designated “charging stations” at the airport. To solve this problem, just invest in a battery pack that can charge a device multiple times. Lastly, I recommend extra SD cards for cameras/phones-nobody wants to run out of storage.

At the end of the day, my number one advice to a new traveler is to step out of your comfort zone, try new things, try new things, be safe, and have fun!  Also, don’t forget to pack Vitamin C because a wanderlust is contagious. Once you get it, you’ll want to fill all the pages of your passport!

Until Next Time,
Alexis Terry

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