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1/35: The Traveler

     

My hair usually looks better when it's not 2:30 in the morning.      

            How does one introduce themselves to a group of people he feels close to, yet doesn’t personally know, like the Game Informer Online community?

A picture seems like a good start. It puts a face to the name Arnulfo Hermes. Most people have called me Arnie because since elementary school most English-speakers are unable to pronounce that unique first name. Their brows furrow in confusion when they hear me roll the Rs and their mouths contort in uncomfortable shapes as they articulate the name slowly: “Ar-no-lfo,” “Ar-nulifo,” “Armolfom,” “Arnolifuh!” I have to cut them off at the fifth attempt because if they keep going I feel the laughter welling up inside will burst out and slap them.

 

I am 19 years old, a currently attending sophomore at Franklin College Switzerland as a combined Literature/Creative Writing major with a minor in Political Science.

 

I blame my grandmother for taking me traveling. If I had never left California except for the occasional car trips across to visit relatives in Los Angeles, El Paso, or Denver, I would have been happy to forever live in a small, isolated, upper-middle class suburban town in Northern California. It was during the trip across Mexico the summer before my freshman year of high school where I was infected by a feverish desire to swallow the world. After Mexico was our cruise to western Canada and Alaska, a true lesson in the meaning of cold and a look at the natural beauty of the United States’ ice chest. The next trip was the first time I ever set foot in Europe. We visited the diverse country of Italy, understood but couldn’t speak the language of love in France, walked all of London from dawn to dusk, and got a taste of my ancestral roots in Spanish country. Our final trip together before we found her on the floor of our kitchen from a stroke, the smell of burnt carnitas in penetrating the air from staying too long in the pan, was to China and Japan. I fell in love with former for its culture and the latter for its modernity.

 

Those are tales for another day.

 

My grandma and I never got to travel again, the doctors said it wasn’t good for her heart. She wishes she could, but now she lives vicariously through the stories and pictures I send back to her and the rest of my family.

 

This traveling is what made me leap at the opportunity to study in another country. I remember getting an email saying “Apply to Franklin College, study in Switzerland!” It looked like the run of the mill college spam, but I thought it wouldn’t hurt to apply, just in case it turned out to be true. I mailed my application on the final day. I had sent it on a whim, a “what if,” but the more and more I researched the college and what it did, the more I hoped I would be accepted. A couple months later there was a letter in the mail containing an acceptance letter for the chance of a lifetime and an academic scholarship to make it all possible.

 

I wished my parents goodbye, assured them I loved them despite wanting to put an ocean between us, and I shipped off to my home for the next four years.

 

This is my second year here and it has been the best decision of my life. Not only have I been getting a fantastic education in the classroom, but I have traveled so much. It’s the latter that has defined my worldly education.

 

Since arriving here I have taken every opportunity to get out and see what the world has in store for me. I have traveled to the Marche and Umbria regions in Italy, a country that has everything you could ever want. I’ve tasted the spice of life in Amsterdam. I have sung German songs in crowded tents at Oktoberfest, a stein of Bavarian beer in one hand and a pretzel the size of my head in the other, while dressed in lederhosen. I watched the world bring in the New Year from atop a centuries old castle in Nuremburg as the citizens filled the air with bursting colors and black smoke. I’ve wandered the streets of Vilnius in Lithuania, a post-Cold War society that hasn’t fully recovered. I danced on tables in Riga, Latvia with a New Zealander, a Brit, an Australian, and another American. I saw a movie in Polish while in Warsaw because I felt like it. I was scared by the sounds of fireworks in the Republic of Cyprus because I thought the Turks were invading. I have felt the look of hatred and envy while visiting mosques in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, as well as alienation when the call for prayer blared from the speakers all over the region in Arabic, straight from the mind of George Orwell.

 

Whenever I return back to Lugano, to start up school again, to have a chance to slow down, I think to myself, I never want to leave. Just don’t tell the Swiss that. Too many people fall in love with the country.

 

Lugano, Switzerland

 

I’ve grown so much since the beginning of college, yet my hobbies haven’t drastically changed. I write whenever I get the chance, I’m an avid reader of everything and anything (as long as it’s good), and I am still a huge gamer.

 

I blame my mother for that last one.

 

As of 2013 I will have been a member of GIO for 9 years. I have grown up with this community through the years, and while the face and faces of the site may have changed, I feel that the ties that bind this community together are as strong as ever.

 

Yet, as someone who has just recently returned to dedicating himself to blogging and interacting with the site, I still feel like someone who has returned to a place they still have ties to but find that either they have changed or the place has changed and it just doesn’t really feel the same as it used to. The feeling reminds me of returning home to California in the summer for the first time in nearly a year.

 

That doesn’t mean I haven’t started to adapt again. This community has been so inviting and encouraging to all of my ideas, pigheadedness, blunt criticisms, writing and overall being that I feel like I can call this place home again. So a brief, yet sincere thank you to the community is in order.

 

Thank you, for taking in a young writer trying to make his mark on the world, in whatever way that may be.

 

As a way to further incorporate myself in the community and take the opportunity to keep a log of my travels, I am doing the infamous 30/30 Day Blogging challenge…

 

…and upping the ante to a 35/35 Day Travel Blog.

 

This winter, much like last, for 35 days, I will travel around Europe. Last year it was by plane with my old roommate, but this year it will be by train and mostly on my own. After spending Christmas in Lugano with my Italian homestay, I will take off to Paris for New Year’s, then to a small town in Spain to dig up my oldest known ancestor. After that, I don’t know yet because I’m hoping a friend from the States will buy a ticket to Europe soon so we can plan where we want to go together.

 

Before all that, I will be visiting our very own Drym Shyuan in Estonia for a week with his family.

 

Because of the nature of traveling, I will do my absolute best to try and get my blog up every single day, but I can’t guarantee it because there may be some places where I’m unable to get Wi-Fi, or my keyboard and/or Android phone lose power (in order to keep my Alienware safe, I’ll be blogging from my Android phone with a Bluetooth keyboard and a computer whenever I have access to one), or some other freak accident happens. If I miss a day or two, I’ll just upload the days as one post.

 

I hope you guys are ready to travel with me. Stick around and I’ll show you what this budding author can do.

 

Expect nothing and everything.

 

~Arnulfo “Arnie” Hermes (Glasses)

 

Since the topic is traveling, where have you guys traveled? What have been your favorite places? What have been your least favorite places? Where would you like to travel? Love it or hate it, leave a comment below and thank you for reading. I do hope you decide to join me on my journey.

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