20 Reasons to Travel Beyond Borders

Not too long ago I had someone ask me why I’m so passionate about traveling outside of the USA when there is so much to see here.  I couldn’t quite put a finger on it, but after much delay (weeks later) I’ve come up with a valid list.  Here it goes:

  1.  Nothing compares to the sense of awe created by experiencing a foreign city or seeing a land mark in person.  Walking in places people only read about and touching the centuries old cobble stone is a gift only you can give yourself.  It’s incredible and I long for that sense of complete wonder and amazement everyday.
  2. Shattering comfort zones.  I have realized I become bored in a place where I feel “comfortable”.  I want to be where I can’t understand the language or traditions and I have to force myself to learn a new way of living and I blame this desire on my year abroad.
  3.  It CAN be done cheaply.  I went to Europe on a college student budget and found my year in Europe was cheaper than any year spent at Central Michigan University.  I was forced to budget my life and it was probably the most financially organized I’ve ever been!
  4. Speaking of finances, everyone should experience foreign currency.  For some reason, the USA missed the memo that currency CAN be colorful pieces of art.
  5.  Even for the extroverted, travel elicits a sense of introspection that no other experience can give you.  Yeah, you travel to new places and somehow end up discovering random facts about yourself!
  6. You end up appreciating home.  As much as I have an obsession for Europe and travel in general, I did end up missing random strolls along lake Michigan during the sunset, tubing down the Chip river with a massive group of people, and the simple smell of home.
  7.  You’re forced to realize what really matters.  If you’re lucky you will have two suitcases in which to pack your entire life.  I really enjoyed living simply and there’s something about only living out of a backpack (I wore the same outfit three different days, *gasp*) that gives the middle finger to society.  It’s just you and a backpack, the adventures are limitless and societal norms are shattered!
  8.  You meet the most entertaining people.  The people you meet along the way all have stories to tell as well, I remember in Poland I met a girl traveling by herself and to this day I admire her.
  9. Many of your friendships established during your time abroad will stand the test of time. Though you may be separated by countries and oceans, you pick up right where you left off.  I joke that my best “souvenirs” were the friends I’ve met while abroad.
  10.  You begin to see things differently.  I was extremely sheltered and it took going abroad on my own to realize the world isn’t the utopia I believed it was.  The world has flaws, lots of them, and we need to acknowledge them.
  11.  2 am closing time?  Nah, the bars (and parties in general) last way into the night anywhere other than the US.
  12.  Your ignorance will be tested.  None of us is perfect and we will never be but while chatting with people with differing views, religious backgrounds, and cultures you might learn a thing or two.
  13.  Are you running from something?  I actually read an article on how those who are doused in a longing to travel are most likely “running from something”.  In reality, I  think we all are running because we really don’t know what the heck we’re doing in this world and running means we are determined to find answers even if that means breaking the shackles of tradition.  Travel gives one the time and space for contemplation and self discovery, so run as fast and as far as you desire!
  14.  You will discover hidden talents.  I bought a paint brush and canvas in order to decorate my room in the Netherlands.  I ended up taking those pieces of canvas with me everywhere since then.  By no means am I a Picasso but I never would have considered painting as a past time before then.
  15. It’s easy.  Stop saying “someday” and simply order those tickets, fill out that study abroad application, apply for the position abroad!  You don’t have a passport?  GET ONE.  There’s nothing more valuable than a passport.
  16.  It not only builds a resume, it builds confidence.  You have conversed with complete strangers in the Czech Republic, saw the realities of World War Two in Poland, slept in a Hungarian airport, and explained your culture to a lecture hall of foreign students from all over the world.  I’d say you have some experience under your belt now.
  17. Forces adaptability.  Spend a week living out of a backpack and you become really good at improvising.  Both a burden of the traveling life and a virtue, one begins to take a cancelled flight as a cause for more adventure.
  18.  You discover better music.  Sure, you’re stuck on your favorite Beyonce song but there’s a whole world of new sounds waiting to be discovered!
  19. Nothing compares to the sense of freedom you experience while on the road to an unfamiliar location. I learned very early on in my travels to never travel with an itinerary or with a large group of people.
  20.  You have so many stories to tell.  Two blogs and several journals later, the stories never seem to get old.

“But that’s the glory of foreign travel, as far as I am concerned. I don’t want to know what people are talking about. I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything. Suddenly you are five years old again. You can’t read anything, you have only the most rudimentary sense of how things work, you can’t even reliably cross a street without endangering your life. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses.”
-Bill Bryson

487327_10151149401096834_1642442428_n

It’s you and one GIGANTIC world, do yourself a favor and see it, experience it, savor it.

My Drizzly Day in Photos

DSCN1873

DSCN1878 DSCN1879 DSCN1881 DSCN1883 DSCN1884 DSCN1889 DSCN1893 DSCN1912

Whoever said that happiness is sunshine, failed to notice the beauty in rain!

And who art thou? said I to the soft-falling shower,
Which, strange to tell, gave me an answer, as here translated:
I am the Poem of Earth, said the voice of the rain,
Eternal I rise impalpable out of the land and the bottomless sea,
Upward to heaven, whence, vaguely form’d, altogether changed, and
yet the same,
I descend to lave the drouths, atomies, dust-layers of the globe,
And all that in them without me were seeds only, latent, unborn;
And forever, by day and night, I give back life to my own origin,
and make pure and beautify it;
(For song, issuing from its birth-place, after fulfilment, wandering,
Reck’d or unreck’d, duly with love returns.)

-Walt Whitman, The Voice of the Rain

Pure Michigan Moments: Photos

Photos taken from my lovely day in Pentwater, Michigan
though fog and haze
may blind your gaze,
always sail
Ever Forward
Stairway to heaven? Nah, just Mt. Baldy.
Hiking barefoot, aka one with nature.
taking a break from climbing sand dunes to climb trees.
Tarzan and Jane have nothing on me…
This spot is my favorite spot in the entire state of Michigan.
Bleeding hearts in my grandma’s garden.
If you love a flower, do not pick it – let it grow wild and free.
(I stumbled upon this lone wild violet in my grandparent’s woods.)
Why hello there, pretty!
We used to cross the creek with that metal contraption.
Be like the bird, who
halting in his flight
on a limb too slight
feels it give way beneath him,
yet sings
knowing he hath wings
-Victor Hugo

My Day in Photographs

Lily of the Valley colonized my entire side yard.

Nothing compares to the scent of fresh Lilacs.

“When the dandelions bloom, you may run barefoot” 
-Grandpa’s words of wisdom at lunch today.

Lounging in weeds, but a weed implies a pest plant that doesn’t belong.
Moxie much prefers dandelions to regular lawn.

Even flowers have freckles!

My afternoon.

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive
– to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”
-Marcus Aurelius 

Sitting in Traffic

To the person obnoxiously honking

at a car stuck at a green light
I shake my head not at your act of rage
but at the fact you carry a hell with you
wherever
               you
                      may
                              go…
That is all.

Committing to Collect Experiences, Letting go of Things

Life is so silly and entertaining when you let it happen.  I mean, if you truly let go of things that hold you back  and simply, genuinely, and organically LIVE.  In other words, stop living superficially.  Stop acquiring junk, stop competing with the Jones’ and really focus on obtaining enriching experiences.  I really don’t care if you have 59 pairs of Michael Kors shoes, tell me about the countries you’ve traveled and the people you’ve met then you will have my complete and undivided interest. Things mean nothing, but the experiences and characters within those stories mean absolutely everything.

I had someone ask me how long I plan on staying abroad and in all honesty, I say as long as possible.  To me, success means experiencing as many places and embracing as many cultures as possible, all the while giving back in some way.  My ultimate goal is to pay off my school loans, then join the Peace Corps, I don’t really care to ever own a house in a suburban town or to be a stay at home mom, it’s just not in the cards for me.  
Today begins my mission to completely purge all unnecessary “things” from my life.  I have two suitcases in which I need to pack a year’s worth of necessities into.  This is one of my favorite parts of travel – you really get to decide what really has meaning and value in your life.  The rest of the the “things” that do not fit into the two suitcases will be sold or donated because my family surely does not need my random crap lying around.

In other news, today I went to the secretary of state to make everything final.  For some odd reason, I had to sign a book and record the country I plan on moving to.  According to this list I was only one of three people in the area preparing to leave the country, I honestly really didn’t think anything of it.  …not until I received a facebook inbox from a girl who saw my name on the list and it turns out she was visiting the Secretary of State for the exact same reason, for the exact same country!  She is from the area and is planning on teaching in Korea as well!  This is what you call a small world, these little connections that randomly appear in life.  These signs that sporadically occur help me realize I’m on the right, yet sometimes crazy path and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
A few weeks and counting…

Until then I’ll continue to savor the moments I have left!

Post Skype Interview: Gwangju

Let me start by saying, I GOT THE JOB!  I did a little dance around my living room and probably didn’t even fall asleep until 3am because of the pure excitement (and fever) running through my veins!  

The interview itself was pretty informal and honestly I was surprised that the interviewer was from America, I guess I prepared for the worst because I was told most interviewers speak very little English and to be aware of random and sometimes personal questions.  All of this in mind, I was pleasantly surprised as I was only asked a few generic interview questions, such as “Why Korea?” “How adaptable are you?” and “Do you have any teaching experience”.  We then spent the rest of the interview talking about the school, it almost seemed like he was trying to sell the school to me!  I don’t want to release any names or details right now because I haven’t signed the contract, but from what I’ve researched it’s a pretty reputable school and my recruiter has done work with them in the past.  
I do not know when I’m leaving for Korea yet.  After I sign my contract, I have to send all of my documents to the Korean Consulate to be reviewed for a new stamp on the passport and that will take a few weeks, but my earliest possible start date is July 10th.  Either way, this summer I begin my journey!
Right now I feel like this is all a dream because it’s everything I’ve wanted for the past 6 months!  It’s time to pull those suitcases out of storage!  

Skype Interview: Gwangju

I would be wearing a skirt, nylons, and my favorite heels to a Skype video interview!  Also, I might add that wearing a turtleneck in 80 degree weather is pure dedication.  I’ve read up on the culture, and I have to confess I went out and bought a whole bunch of turtlenecks in preparation for this job (hey, they’re on clearance right now anyway).  Korea is a much more conservative society than the United States, though it honestly doesn’t take much to be more conservative than the US…

I’ve pretty much done all I can do in preparation for this interview and I want it SO badly.  The past few hours I’ve actually spent time roaming the internet and reading other people’s blogs about this exact situation I’m about to experience in T-minus two hours and this is one of the most exciting parts of the journey!  It’s time to find a school I mesh well with and can call home and people I can call family for an entire year, if not more!

It’s crazy to think that the next blog post I write will be the outcome of this interview!  I think I’m going to go walk my dog to kill the nerves, the anticipation is killing me right now.

Wish me luck and I’ll keep you posted!! 😉