Otterbein Adventures: Tales from a Resident’s World Travels

Posted on: August 28, 2023

Linda F., Otterbein SeniorLife resident, can check visits to Romania, South Africa, and Vietnam off her list. 

Since her retirement, Linda has traveled to more than 50 countries and doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon: “I always tell my kids, I’m going to travel until the money or the body runs out,” she said.

Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and Beyond

Linda counts her recent trip to southern Africa — including Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and South Africa — as one of her favorites.

“It was incredible. Every minute was filled with awe. I had a list of 154 birds that I saw for the first time,” she said. 

Another trip to Poland helped her retrace her family’s heritage and allowed her to see some of the places her grandmother had once lived before coming to the US. 

Linda said she particularly loves seeing nature’s sights when she’s on a trip: “I’d just as soon see God’s creation than man’s. How many castles can you see? But every bird is different.”

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Wisdom From Around the World

Last year, Linda visited Israel and spent time with various groups of people: Palestinians, Orthodox Jews, and a Holocaust survivor and her family. 

“You see people from different walks of life within the country and have them talk. So to me, that was fascinating to see across the board, how different people respond to things. They were very open,” she said.

In fact, interacting with those from around the world is Linda’s favorite part of traveling.

“What I like most about traveling is getting to know the people. That’s why I like the company that I travel with. I’m not just a tourist; I’m a traveler,” said the independent living resident. “We go into homes; we go into local shopping areas; so we get more of a feel than the average tourist does.”

She said her biggest takeaway from traveling has been seeing how the happiest people, no matter what they have, don’t define happiness by the things they own. In Cuba, for example, where most people have very little, Linda said she met some of the most joyful people.

“If more people would travel and meet other people and recognize that they’re individuals, we wouldn’t have all of the war and the terror and the fear that we have in this world,” she said.

Although Linda isn’t fluent in other languages — “I know a little bit of Spanish; enough to get myself in trouble” — she does make an effort to learn some everyday words of a country’s native language when she’s visiting.

With her experiences around the world, Linda had a few pieces of advice for first-time travelers:

  • Recognize that you’ll get a little out of your comfort zone.
  • Travel with a friend the first time you take a big trip.
  • Be open to listening to other people, even if you don’t always agree with them.

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Life at Otterbein

Linda said her past eight years at Otterbein have been full of support and she has enjoyed her time there. And when she’s away on her travels, she can rest easy knowing that her two cats and bevy of tomato plants are being taken care of for her.

“When I moved here, they talked about the Spirit of Otterbein, and I thought, ‘Gee, that sounds like a real marketing piece.’ But truly, it is the spirit in the people here,” she said. 

Linda recounted the things she enjoys about life on campus: the food, the fitness center, the activities, and the creative arts studio. Although she said she’s never considered herself an artistic person, she recently entered four pieces into the Leading Age art show — and won three ribbons.

She also said that while she’s Jewish and living at a Methodist senior living community, she’s never encountered anything but welcoming support.

“I feel like this is a big family here. If I need anything at all, all I have to do is go out my door and I have the support that I need. And to me that’s a gift,” she said.

Cultural Wellness and More at Otterbein

At Otterbein, our residents — like Linda —  come from all kinds of places and with a vast variety of life experiences. Although we are affiliated with the United Methodist Church, you don’t have to be Methodist to live here, and our residents represent a wide variety of cultural and spiritual beliefs. 

Whether it’s the food we serve or the music and arts programs we offer, you’ll find an appreciation for and interest in all cultures to be woven into our campuses.

Learn more about how Otterbein promotes whole-person wellness on each campus and get tips you can use today for a healthier lifestyle in this free guide.

Read Nine Degrees of Wellness