My Reverse Bucket List

To be completely honest with you, I’m not the biggest fan of bucket lists. I don’t think travel should be about a bunch of places to check off a “before I die” to-do list. Still, I understand why people prioritise certain destinations. Nobody has enough time to see the whole planet and appreciate the full spectrum of human culture. Since I prefer to just go with the flow and see whichever new ideas and opportunities cross my path, I don’t have a list of places I want to visit.

Going with the flow is one thing, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have any goals. One good way to find out where you want to go in life is to think about experiences that have meant the most to you in the past. A recent blogging trend has captured my attention: the reverse bucket list. The reverse bucket list isn’t about the things you still want to do. Rather, it’s an appreciation of your existing travel experiences. Today, I’m sharing a few of mine!

Meeting Wild Orangutans in Borneo

When I was younger, I read Biruté Galdikas’ biography “Reflection of Eden”. The Canadian researcher decided to start a life in uncharted territory to realise her dream of establishing the first Orangutan research center in the world. She set up Camp Leakey in the jungle of Borneo in 1971. My fascination with primates and admiration for Dr. Galdikas have only grown over the years. Never did I ever imagine I would be able to visit the same exact camp. This year, I was lucky enough to join the Wonderful Indonesia blogger trip and meet the wild orangutans in Tanjung Puting National Park. It was a childhood dream come true.

Meeting Orangutans in Indonesia

Summer School in Beijing

Only a few days after graduating in the summer of 2015, I rushed into another academic adventure: the Beijing Normal University Philosophy Summer School. I had never been to China (or Asia for that matter) and I couldn’t have been more excited. After weeks of daily lectures and excursions with about 30 other students from 10 different countries, I can positively say it was an experience of a lifetime. It was an inspiring combination of academic development and cultural experience. I honestly believe that when I travel and am exposed to other people’s perspectives, I truly learn the most.

Beijing Summer Palace in Summer

Surfing for the First Time in Bali

Although I was only able to spend no more than 48 hours in Bali, I made good use of my time and managed to do something I always wanted to try: surfing. I’m not very athletic at all, but I’m a strong swimmer and usually do quite well when it comes to water sports. I was over the moon when I actually managed to stand up when I caught my first (tiny) wave!

Surfing in Bali

Road trip through the American Deserts

Nowadays, I mostly focus on visual culture, but I’ve always had a thing for geography. For a while, I even contemplated whether I wanted to continue studying physical geography at university. As a child, my parents took me to lots of different places, but I had never seen a true desert. In 2015, I joined my parents on a road trip in California and finally visited several American Deserts. We ended up driving through parts of the Colorado and Mojave deserts in Anza-Borrego SP and Joshua Tree NP. They may be scorching hot, but there is just something irresistible about vast, quiet desert landscapes. In some places, all I could hear was myself breathing.

Joshua Tree National Park

Speaking at an International Conference in Bologna

Late summer 2015, I spent a few days in the Italian city of Bologna. The Magna Charta Universitatum celebrated its 27th anniversary and a fellow AUC alumna (Zahia) and I were invited to speak at the annual conference in Bologna. I still can’t believe that actually happened. The Magna Charta Universitatum document affirms key principles of academic freedom and institutional autonomy. We were part of the first all-student panel at the international conference on university values.

View of the city of Bologna

Visiting Barcelona Solo

Barcelona was a city that I had always wanted to visit. My friends and family had all been to Barcelona before, but I somehow never managed to join them on their trips. As I wasn’t a kid anymore, I decided it was time to visit Barcelona by myself. Last year around this time, I was going through a little bit of a rough patch. I didn’t really tell anyone (except my parents) and decided to book a last-minute flight to Barcelona. It felt incredible to escape to Barcelona and just walk around in the sunshine and do whatever the bleep I wanted to do. I visited Park Guëll, CosmoCaixa, Montjuïc, the Gothic Quarter, and many more places. I only had two full days to see all I wanted to see, so I couldn’t really feel my feet at the end, but that’s exactly what I wanted to do.

Visiting Barcelona Solo

These are just a few of my most treasured travel experiences. I have many meaningful travel memories, like visiting Venice with my best friend and exploring Cape Town with my brother. What do you think about the concept of a reverse bucket list? Will you be blogging about it too? Let me know!

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