A Traveler at Heart

Emily - Woodbury, Minnesota
Entered on November 4, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
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Experience, travel- these are as education in themselves. –Euripides

I believe in the power of foreign countries. Nothing clears your mind (or fills it) like the strange sight of an entire city plastered with billboards of a bizarre language. The unfamiliar sounds and smells bring to your body a sense of joy. It is all discoveries from here on out- for a moment there are no dangers.

When you feel like breaking your neck and the only thing you need is a very long holiday, I would go with traveling to an unfamiliar place. There is something about a very different country that impresses me, though I don’t know what it is. Is it just the different scenery? You’ve seen plenty of photos of desert dunes, but when it is a 360° view, plus the hot uneven sand, plus the muggy air, plus the desert sun, the feeling is quite different.

Here is an example. During a summer, I shipped my family and myself over to Taiwan to visit relatives. That first step off the airplane is always interesting for me. After you take a step off, you can feel the temperature of the place you’ve just arrived at, and see the differences of it and your home. When I took a step off, heat immediately flowed over my skin. As I walked into the airport, I could finally see that all the places where English words belonged in my head, Mandarin characters were. All the places where blonde and brunette heads belonged were nearly all replaced with dark ones. To me at that moment, everybody looked the same. Taiwan is a hot, technologically advanced, small, green country. It is different. It is different from the States, and I liked it. Not because it was different from our home here, but because I love foreign countries.

Nearly everything in Taiwan was different. One thing that was very obvious was the space. The buildings were tied together, standing face to face. The people were packed closer. Almost an Asian New York, but I would give Hong Kong that prize, hands down. I felt like there were discoveries to be made, things to do, and all the problems from back in the US could not be brought here. Here is a second life for me to live.

Foreign countries, if you’ve spent the right kind of time there, send you away with more knowledge, a simpler (and in some cases, more complicated) mindset, and new connections. Maybe you’ll have a couple stories to share at your next barbecue.

After I graduate, I’d like to settle down somewhere in the States. Then after a few years, pull out to somewhere in Europe for a holiday, a very long holiday. And I don’t expect I shall return. –Bilbo Baggins. Not knowing the language would be an interesting risk, too. It’s apparent it’s not a very smart thing to do. I probably won’t do it. But once I settle somewhere, it could be one of those crazy things that will eat at me. So, I could pick up my things and leave for an adventure without further notice, except to my boss. I’ll eventually receive some phone calls from upset family and friends.

“Where are you? And why is your house on sale?”

“I’m in Manila.”

“Where the heck is that? So, are you living there, or something? Talk to me!”

I probably won’t do that. Just a very long holiday I will return from, back to home.