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Ever wondered what was around the corner or over the hill? If I walked just a few more feet or a half a mile I would discover the mysteries hidden by those bends in the road. Going places has always enticed me. Whether it’s a plane taking off, a bus leaving the terminal, or a car disappearing off into the distance, I’ve always had a strong desire to pick up and go.
Throughout my life I’ve had an internal battle raging in my brain, telling me that I belonged anywhere but where I was. Invisible tendrils tugged me in the direction of travel. I longed to speak a foreign language while conversing with the locals over a shared pot of tea or wandering along narrow streets while bargaining for rare gems or books. The only things stopping me were that I had no passport, no money, and that I was only seven years old.
My influences at the time were the Indiana Jones movies, Not Without My Daughter, and a series of books I read when I was thirteen years old called The Princess Trilogy, about a Saudi princess and her life in The Kingdom. I was entranced by the colors, clothing, languages, and people and wondered how my life could be so completely different from theirs.
As I grew older, the intensity to travel became a hunger but the lack of money and time held me back. I was a recent college graduate trying to make her way in the world of teaching. I had to figure out my style of classroom management, re-teach myself grammar and mechanics, and try to grade papers at a rapid pace. All the while, travel nagged at my brain.
After a series of failed jobs in a field I wasn’t happy in and a struggling relationship, I fell into my first and only deep depression. I couldn’t pass the teacher’s exam for high school English, I didn’t enjoy the branch of special needs I had fallen into, and I struggled to make ends meet.
My then boyfriend of three years had listened to me talk about moving overseas but had little interest as he wanted to settle in the town he was born in. Having his sights on greener pastures, he suggested I check out jobs abroad. I scraped together cash, applied for my passport, ended my failing relationship, and packed my bags. At twenty-seven, with little money left over for any sort of an emergency, I packed way too much and left the world as I knew it.
Thinking back, I should have had something in the way of extra money, but at the time I craved a more exciting and fulfilling life and hoped South Korea had the answers I was looking for. Not only did the experience transform me, but I found my calling as an English-as-a-Second-Language teacher and travel writer.
More than a decade later I am thankful for that leap of faith. Traveling has changed my life. I have lifelong friends from a multitude of cultures, a welcome bed should I ever need a place to crash, and shoulders to lean on when I need reassurance and advice.
In turn when given the chance to travel, don’t think, just do it. Never let time, money, or a failed relationship stand in your way. Go. Buy a ticket and get on a plane. Explore new cultures, sample mouth-watering cuisines, and talk to strangers. You never know what you will discover around the bend in the road.
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton