This I Believe

Sara - Chicago, IL, Illinois
Entered on June 7, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
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Travel; And the Fabulous Destiny of Those Who Partake in it.

During the spring break of 8th grade, I went to Costa Rica with my Biology class. It was my first time traveling out of the country. The plane landed in San Jose in the afternoon, and there were another 5+ hours of travel until we got to our temporary home. We slept in these tents on top of elevated wooden bases, situated a mere 20 yards from the ocean. The following morning I woke up with my friend, from the incessant, yet soothing, sound of crashing waves. We traipsed over to some hammocks and she and I sat on them in silence, watching the sun rise and pierce the sky with color, and breathing in the warm salty air. This was a liberating moment. As a stranger to any place outside the Midwest, it was an alien feeling. But it was also one of the most exhilarating emotions I have experienced. It was a feeling of insignificance, but more so it was a feeling of opportunity. I was somewhere so drastically different, the air was unpolluted, the stars were actually visible, and the only noises were those of the ocean, the squealing of monkeys, and the cawing of parrots. Whenever I turned around and looked back at the looming forest behind us, I would lose my breath, stunned that I was somewhere so striking and pure. My life was put into perspective; there are so many places other than Chicago, and suddenly I needed to go to them all. I wanted to feel that emotion for the rest of my life.

I believe in travel. I believe in experiencing the world, in expanding your limits, and in stepping out of your boundaries. The Earth is such a vast place, and discovering as much about it as I can is something I now feel obligated to do. I want to be able to travel the globe, and meet the individuals that make up our world. I believe that experiencing different cultures and learning different languages teaches compassion, breaks apart stereotypes, and provokes personal growth. There is no better way to learn about the world than to go out and simply be alive in it. It enables me to experience things that would not happen in Chicago. The sights, the sounds, the thrills of traveling are entirely original, and cannot be compared to anything else. This past October, I hosted a German exchange student. She was one of the sweetest girls I have ever met. She traveled to Chicago and was able to experience my American culture. In a few weeks I am greatly anticipating getting on a plane and reversing the situation – and I am positive my trip to Germany will be just as breath-taking as Costa Rica. I believe that travel has the ability to change lives.