Lost Girl of the Week: Vanessa Watson

Lost Girl of the Week — By on January 4, 2012 at 7:00 am

This week’s Lost Girl, Vanessa Watson, discovered a love for travel through a love for history. She began her journeys in college, and decided that the only passion she wanted to pursue from there forward was travel. Unlike many of our lost girls, she chose to skip the stress of job searching and simply lose herself right out of college. Now in New Zealand, she is excited to start the next chapter in her adventures.

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Greetings from the other land down under… New Zealand! I arrived in Auckland a few days ago on a year long Working Holiday Visa scheme and am excited to start my new life as a Kiwi. As a recent college graduate, I made a decision that my life would be about adventure and excitement rather than the typical, mundane post graduate life choices. Career? Husbands? Babies? No thank you! I’m living life as a citizen of the world, leaving the comfort of my small town life in North Dakota behind. First, let me tell you how it all started.

My love affair with the world around me started with one man: Forrest Gump. In the movie, Forrest experiences many significant events in American history, from the Civil Rights Movement to the Vietnam War. From this, I fell in love with learning about past events, both American and the rest of the world. I quickly became that annoying girl in history class who raised her hand at every question.

Soon, my love of history led to a desire to travel. Not only did I want to learn about history, I wanted to visit the places where history took place. I could walk in the footsteps of King Aurthur, marvel at the Pyramids of Egypt and meet Julius Caesar at the Forum. Money was tight growing up but I knew college would be the perfect opportunity to start traveling. I attended the University of North Dakota, where I double majored in History and International Studies, combining my thirst for exploring the world around with history.

In summer 2008, I headed off for my first international experience, studying abroad in Valencia, Spain with my best friend Steph. We lived with a host Madre, ate delicious paella and homemade humus, sipped sangria, oogled Spanish men and spent afternoons lounging on the beach. I was hooked. The only thing I knew was I needed to go back to Europe. I saved all my pennies and was fortunate enough to received two scholarships and soon found myself jetting away to Prague, Czech Republic in fall 2009 to study abroad once again. My semester in Prague proved to be life changing, through the amazing people I met and experiences I had. I drank way too much beer at Oktoberfest, met Anthony Bourdain at the pub below my apartment, paid tribute to the Holocaust at Auschwitz and got in touch with my heritage in Sweden.

I graduated college in August 2010 and the typical “when are you starting your life/career” questions began. Studying abroad helped me to realize the only thing I wanted to do with my life is travel. You always read about how people leave their stressful, unfulfilled jobs in NYC or LA to travel/live abroad. But what about the rest of us who never want the 9-5 job and can’t imagine wearing a suit? Why not skip that whole part and just do what makes you happy and thrive. I love the thrill of getting lost, having one conversation in four languages with a new friend and discovering how genuinely kind people can be in this world. So here I am in New Zealand, starting the next chapter of my worldly adventures with my roommate from Prague, Jess. We do not know what New Zealand will have in store for us, but I have a feeling 2011 is going to be the best year yet!

I hope you too make 2011 great by finally taking that leap to backpack around South America or study abroad (I highly recommend my study abroad program, University Studies Abroad Consortium or USAC) I guarantee you will not regret it. You’ll be soaking up the sun on the beaches of Australia, drinking wine on the Spanish Steps in Rome or climbing the Great Wall of China in no time!

To check out my past and current travels, check out my blog at wanderlustness.blogspot.com

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    2 Comments

  • Rebecca says:

    As I always say, Yay for American on WHV!!!

    New Zealand seems to be overlooked a lot more lately, now that Australia (America Downunder, as I call it) allows Americans to work for a year. I did both, and loved New Zealand more and I can’t wait to read about your adventures!!!

  • Jakori says:

    Wow seems like you have done and seen alot. Living in Germany, I see alot of international students. It’s great to see and meet other Americans in Europe and found some of my best friends to be students studying abroad.