Photo Essay Contest 2012

Catelyn Kostbar

Entry Form

Self Portrait

Catelyn Kostbar

Essay

Following My Heart and Falling in Love

            I had set my sights to study abroad  in order to allow myself the chance to see the world and open myself to all the experiences the universe had to offer. I was so grateful to have been accepted to study law in London, England. This was to be my first time traveling outside of the United States and, as cliché as it may sound, I had always felt in my heart that there was a vast amount of opportunities waiting for me beyond the boundaries of my home state. Studying abroad allowed me to follow my heart.

            While studying in London I wanted to seize the opportunity to venture to other countries of Europe, since access to them was made simple by convenient means of public transportation. The first trip I made was to Paris, France for a short weekend in February. I hopped on The Chunnel, which is a directly rooted train from London to Paris. It was there that I stumbled upon a bridge that enchanted me and captured my imagination.

The bridge was laden with padlocks of all shapes, sizes, and colors. Some had names engraved into them, while others were just adorned with handwritten initials. The sight was captivating and whimsical. Upon this bridge were padlocks affixed by couples from all around the world to symbolize an everlasting, locked-love.  It may have been the timing and place of this encounter, as I was visiting Paris on the weekend of Valentine’s Day, but from this point on in my travels I was utterly captured by the romance of where I was in the world.  My heart knew I was where I was supposed to be and it was only a short month later that my heart was opened to another chance encounter.

My friends and I decided to head to Spain for a weekend at the end of March. We had not yet gotten very far in our travels when we met David. In fact, we were standing in line waiting for departure in the London airport. David was standing in the back of the line and when he heard us talking he turned around and introduced himself. He too was an American and was traveling to Spain to visit some friends.  Our conversation continued on the airplane and I cannot exactly explain the instant connection I seemed to have with David, but we spent most of that weekend together.

His flight back to London was coordinated with ours and it was there that we talked about meeting up again once we were back in England. Two weeks later, I took a train two and half hours Northeast of London to visit him. Our personal connection was strong and being with him was exciting.  Truthfully, I did not expect that a chance encounter such as this could have fabricated into my own personal love story…

By the end of April, my study abroad experience was nearly at an end and I wanted to visit Italy before heading home. Italy had the allure of history, culture, and romance. David too was drawn to see the ancient Roman Coliseum and the Grand Canal of Venice. So, in following my heart, we booked a trip to Italy, setting out to see Venice and Rome. 

We spent a full day in Venice roaming around the maze of pedestrian streets; drinking wine at a table sitting adjacent to the Grand Canal; and soaking up the romance of our setting. As I sat and watched the sunset cascade behind the stacks of buildings that lined the canal I reflected upon my experience in its entirety. My heart had led me along this wondrous adventure. I had visited eight countries in four months and had discovered that each place held a unique quality that captivated my senses of adventure, insight, and romance.  I followed my heart and I fell in love…

Photos

Photo 1
The Love Locked Bridge in Paris, France.

 

Photo 2

Venice - Following my heart and falling in love.

 

Photo 3

Grand Canal, Venice - Overlooking the Grand Canal and sunset.