3 days 14 hours and 5 minutes. As I write this, that is all that stands between me and boarding my first flight on my journey to China and Taiwan. Crazy, right? In fact, I can hardly believe it myself. As I near the end of my last year of undergraduate study, I have been thinking an awful lot about travel and experiencing the world. Wanderlust. That’s what they call it anyway. "A strong desire or urge to wander or travel and explore the world." Yeah. Nothing could be more true of me right now.
Traveling is something that I have always enjoyed, yet have done relatively little of. When I was younger, my family’s idea of family vacation was loading up the minivan (yes, we road in style back in the day) and trekking across the state of South Dakota to the Black Hills, where we would camp for a week. Don’t get me wrong, the Black Hills ARE beautiful and if you haven’t seen Mount Rushmore at least once in your life, well, then are you really American?
|My 17-year old self at the Badlands|
|Sylvan Lake...Photo cred to my mom for capturing this|
However, it wasn't until I was in the eighth grade that I even boarded my first flight down to Texas. In fact, I can remember the day vividly. I could hardly sleep the night before, because I was so excited about flying for the first time. It was at that time that I fell in love with travel. The idea of packing up and flying across the country was so exciting to me. The next year, I vacationed in California and Hawaii. Since then, I have made a point of traveling. While I could have stayed and worked during my Spring Breaks of college, I chose to fly to various locations with campus ministry to better experience the country that we live in. From teaching Hispanic children at a Head Start program on the edge of Denver, Colorado to distributing hygiene kits on Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles—I cannot get enough of immersing myself in different cultures.
|My first time at the Ocean back in 2007|
|Serving meals to people on the streets of LA|
(picture by my friend Josh Tonkin)
|My little friend, Sara, from an orphanage in Tijuana|
|The gloomy beaches of San Francisco|
(Another Josh Tonkin photo cred)
A couple of summers ago, I read the book “Eat Pray Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert. For those of you who have not read it or seen the movie, get yourself to the local library…stat! It is a true story about a woman who takes off to discover the world and herself after a failed marriage. At the time when I was reading it, I was struggling with a lot of things in my life. While my experiences were much different than Elizabeth’s, I felt drawn to her story. I wanted to take time to get away and find myself, just like she had.
Well, here I am. 2 years later. Ready to take off on this journey of a lifetime. College has been fun. I've made countless memories with some of the most remarkable people. I've learned a lot about myself and hopefully I've learned just as much about my future career as a dietitian (at least that's what we hope after 4-years of college!) But it is time to move on with life. I can’t think of a more appropriate way of marking my transition than taking off for Beijing less than 24-hours after I graduate.
Stay tuned. One of my priorities as I leave is to document my journey by reflecting in my writing. Y’all will be the first to hear about my experiences right here! J