By Brittney Nadler
I want to walk on a volcano, plummet through the Amazon and take a gondola ride through Venice. I want to build a school in Rwanda and gaze at the northern lights and get henna tattoos in India. I want to play Nemo and see the Great Barrier Reef, climb a mountain, meet a tribe. I want to travel (hello, global studies minor) and see every phenomenon nature offers, experience every aspect of cultural beauty and visit more countries than I can keep track of. The world is our playground and now is the time to explore – here are eight earthly wonders everyone should care about.
1. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
Let’s begin this journey by visiting the largest salt desert in the world – Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia. After it rains, the salt reflects the sky and makes for one surreal where-does-the-earth-meet-the-sky experience. This is the one chance you’ll get to walk on the sky and take a nice, long look at yourself and the world around you.
2. Tanzania, Africa
Next comes Tanzania in Africa, a country that has been voted the best place for safaris in Africa. Africa is my absolute number one study abroad dream destination to not only go on a real-life safari, but to witness and help with what we too often see on TV ads and fundraising campaigns. Bearing witness to the devastations of poverty, hunger, health, war and the multitude of other problems within the continent would be an eye-opening reality check that is sure to make anyone thankful for what they have and willing to lend a hand.
Image from: http://www.gdargaud.net/Antarctica/SunRun.html
Now before you grab your heated blanket and hot chocolate and lock yourself in your room, hear me out. I’m the absolute last person who would ever willingly trek into the good ol’ arctic world for fun (my limit is about fifty degrees) but have you heard of the midnight sun? I’ll save you the astronomy lesson, but basically the sun never sets and that’s cool. Get it?
Formerly voted the happiest country in Asia and eighth happiest in the world, Bhutan is a small country northeast of India that emphasizes peace and religion. Vacations don’t always need to be filled with partying, rushed sight-seeing and long days. After all, they’re meant for relaxing, aren’t they?
Obviously the former concentration camp is not the first tourist attraction a majority of vacationers think of, but the history behind Auschwitz is astonishing and something that deserves to be recognized. Take in one of the, if not the most tragic historical events and think about the changing society we live in.
I never had any burning desire to visit Ireland until I saw P.S. I Love You (2007) and Titanic 3D (2012) – yes I have seen the original but seeing it in theaters makes it that more dramatic – and saw how beautiful the country is. This is one vacation destination where tourists should live it up, go out and admire the scenery along the way. Also, Irish accents. Need I say more?
7. Dubai, India
Every year, my high school hosts a Culture Show and the sole reason I continued to go was to watch the dance performance from the South Asian Student Association. Indian culture is breathtakingly beautiful and immersing yourself in it, even if just for a day, would change the way you see culture and diversity. Not to mention they have a man-made island called Palm Island that is completely incredible.
8. My house (and your house, too)
While taking a vacation is always highly anticipated in the weeks (or even months) leading to the day you finally get on the plane, pack up the car, or board the cruise ship, reading Buzzfeed for five hours and eating an entire pack of golden Oreos in bed at home never ceases to disappoint me. For those of you staying home during the winter break, tell your Florida-fanatic friends and Paris-plundering pals you don’t need eighty degree temps or an Eiffel Tower to make your month of freedom worthwhile. Happy holidays!