Why I choose to travel

Now that I’ve come back home from my expat adventure in France, I’ve had many moments of reflection. This past year, I’ve done more traveling than I could have ever imagined, and my hunger for travel has only grown because of it.

Because I have traveled so much and because I do consider myself a travel junkie, many people have asked why I love traveling so much. What is about traveling that appeals to me? Why is it something that I constantly crave? I didn’t have the answers until I started to see how different I am because of my experiences living as an expatriate and traveling, and here’s what I have to say.

I choose to travel because 

1. There is something bigger than me out there

I am a Christian. I believe in God, and the more that I travel the more that I see Him and His glory in every corner that I travel. The more that I travel, the closer I feel to Him. The more that I travel, the closer I feel to understanding Him and how He works in our world. I am a firm believer that God created us all equally but differently, without much to go off of about how life works except for the Bible, which is, in my opinion, mostly metaphors and stories that we must interpret to understand. We each have our interpretations and perceptions of the world that is put in front of us. This is how we get culture, and in my opinion, this is a direct result of the variances in the world that God Himself created. I don’t believe He wanted us to all be the same. I think not only did He create all of the differences because of that, but I also believe that our differences are also a reflection on how varied, diverse, powerful, and beautiful He is, the Creator of the Universe. I see Him in mountains. I see Him in oceans. I see Him in French people. I see Him in Americans, and I get a different side of Him every time that I catch a glimpse of a different place, a different culture, or a different person.

2. It keeps the everyday life fresh

I want to see, to taste, to smell, to hear, and to feel as much of this world as possible before I leave it. Life always feels a little fresher after I’ve experienced something new. Throughout my travels I have discovered that I am not the type of traveler who can travel for months on end, without a place to call home, without a place that is ”mine.” There are many people that are like that. I’ve discovered that I’m not one of them. However, experiencing a new place does help keep the everyday things, my home fresh. Every time I’ve come back to my place after having traveled, I felt a sense of warmth and love. Seeing new places not only helps me to appreciate this world but also helps me to appreciate the everyday, little, supposed ”boring” things. It’s hard to not love life when you’ve seen so many beautiful things.

3. It helps me to meet new people

I love meeting new people. I love people. I love the innateness of being human. Humanity is fascinating, and I love being able to experience it in all of its forms. People are the most fascinating creatures. You can love them, hate them, inspire them, be inspired by them, experience joy with them, and nothing is like knowing that you are not the only one struggle with being human. We all struggle with it, no matter what culture we live in, how we live, or where we are from. Knowing that someone so completely different from me has experienced some of the some things that I have, even if it’s been in a slightly different way, is refreshing and encouraging.

4. It makes me a better person

Through traveling, I was constantly reminded of the fact that I am not the only person living in this world, and I am most definitely not the only person affected by my actions. Everything I do affects other people. Though I would’ve considered myself pretty aware of my surroundings before traveling as much as I have so far, I am much much much much more aware of them now. After having lived in France and traveled throughout Europe, I’ve become more environmentally conscious. I’ve become more patient and more polite. I’ve become more likely to pause before I react to things, trying to understand if it’s just them being rude or if it’s really just because they come from a different culture. It’s helped me to become more flexible with my expectations as well. It’s made me want to understand other people before I judge them.

5. It helps me to know myself better

When you travel, you encounter different modes of living. Maybe they eat different food or they eat their food differently. Maybe they communicate differently. Maybe they view the world differently or politics or religion. Being challenged by these differences forces me to think about why I appreciate what I appreciate, why I love what I love, and why I believe what I believe. I’ve defined my beliefs, my values, my morals, my ambitions and my goals in life, and who I am because I’ve experienced things and people that differ from me or from mine. You don’t truly get to know yourself until you are encountered by people or by a culture that greatly differs from you or your own, because if you are constantly surrounded by people or a culture that you know or that are similar, then you are never forced to question yourself or your values and beliefs.

 

 

Though traveling has become a thing that many people aim to do, this is why I choose to travel. I don’t do it just because it’s a thing to do or because other people do it. Travel is a part of me and will always be, and I never hope that changes.

What are the reasons that you choose to travel?

Why I choose to teach.

Teaching is not an easy job. Teaching can actually be quite an extremely difficult job. My fellow teachers out there know what I’m talking about. Maybe some of those of you whom think teaching isn’t that difficult, I dare you to try it for a day.

Sometimes, you can find me complaining about how much my students, all of whom I only see an hour during the week (you wouldn’t think that would be long enough to drive me crazy…but alas, they find a way), make me want to pull my hair out sometimes. Sometimes, I give lessons that are a total failure, and I just get dead, blank stares back at me while I stand there thinking of the best way possible in the fastest way possible to recover the lesson. Sometimes, I really really fail at it. Sometimes, I come home from work asking myself if I even accomplished anything at all. Sometimes, I wake up some mornings dreading going to work, and I only work 12 hours a week. (Can you imagine what it’s like for those teachers that teach 40+ hours a week? Kudos to all of you!) Sometimes, I know that some of the students that I’m teaching really couldn’t care less.

So, why do I do it? Why do I teach? I have asked myself this question before, and I have gotten asked this question before. After mulling over it many times and thinking about other career possibilities that I might be interested in, I came to the conclusion that this is where I want to be despite the stress, despite the days of failure, despite the fatigue. So, I thought it was time to really dig deep within myself to find the answers to that why. Here’s what conclusions I came to. I choose to teach…

Because I believe in education. In my opinion, education is one of the most, if not the most, important aspects of any given society. You may ask what about medicine/health, science, the arts, social services, etc.? I have been asked this question before. I am not denying that those things are extremely important in addition to education, but we first have to be educated in order to have those things, n’est-ce pas. How do people become nurses, doctors, scientists, social workers, composers, writers, teachers, translators, etc.? They didn’t get there without first being educated. It starts there, and that’s why I choose to teach, because if we allow ourselves to start off with bad or even terrible education, we are affecting the future of our society as a whole. I want to be a part of making education, both academic and social, the absolute best that it can be. It just so happens that the aspect of education that I have a particular strength in is language education.

Because I believe everyone needs to learn how to be the best version of themselves that they can be. As a teacher, yes, our job is to educate our students on our given subjects. Yes, that’s technically our main job, but in addition to teaching them our subjects, we teach them how to function in society. We teach them how to work together, how to think critically, how to appreciate all aspects of society and education, and how to be the best person that they can be, both in school and, just as importantly, as a person, living as a contributing member of society. I enjoy being able to help my students along that path, even if I don’t always make a huge difference, which let’s face it, isn’t most of the time, and even when it appears that I’m not making any difference at all.

I want to tell you a little story. When I came back to work from Christmas vacation there was an upcoming holiday in the States that I decided that I wanted to teach my students about: Martin Luther King Jr. day. I wanted to teach my students about this holiday because it’s an extremely important one in my country, and he was a very important man whose actions and teachings changed my country for the better. Talking to some people about it, they thought that it might be a little too strong of a lesson for my students, because after all, if I wanted to talk about MLK Jr., I would have to talk about the Civil Rights Movement, segregation, and, indefinitely, racism. *gasp* I should never really bring up racism. It’s too strong of a subject, right? (To be honest, talking about MLK Jr. was a little tough for my students but not because of the subject matter but rather because of the level of language, in that my lesson was flawed, not in what I chose to teach about.) Perhaps, but I think it’s important to talk about especially with all of the shootings going in the States that are creating uprisings about how racism is still alive and well. What about the flood of refugees from the Middle East and Africa both into Europe and into the United States? Maybe it is a strong subject, but I believe you can talk about this subject in a very objective manner. I taught my students about MLK Jr. because subjects such as racism and prejudice are important for them to learn about because, in my opinion, they are alive and well in society. And societal issues such as those affect societies and cultures and people etc etc, all subjects that teaching language eventually give way to.

I want to know that what I’m teaching about helps form a better society. My job isn’t just to teach language but to teach language that is applicable to their every day lives, language that can help them on their paths to adulthood and to becoming more open-minded people, and if I’m going to teach them language, then I have to teach them about culture. If I’m going to teach them about culture, then I have to teach them about society, and that includes the not so pretty sides of society. Well, I suppose I could ignore all of that and just teach them academic language, but well, in my opinion, academics are only good for so long without eventually applying them to real life. Also, does it really make sense to not apply language learning to where we actually use language, you know, in society? So, I can’t honestly bring myself to ignore all of that.

Because it connects people together. As a teacher, I get to know my students, learn about who they are and where they come from. Then, I get to teach them about myself, who I am and where I come from. While I teach them about language and culture, I get to learn about their language and culture. Through this, I am connecting with them. I am creating cross-cultural bridges. I am connecting with them as fellow human beings, and I am teaching them how to connect with each other and hopefully giving them tools to connect with people in the future.

I am not a very patriotic person because I believe this earth is ultimately not ours to claim, so country borders don’t really mean much. I believe that we are all equal and that we are all meant to connect with one another and live in harmony with one another. I can admit that as I’ve gotten older I’ve become more proud of where I come from and how that makes me different from other people, but not in a patriotic sense. What I’m proud of is who I am individually, which partly comes from where I come from, but I also want to respect and enjoy the differences in others as well. This is what I want to be a part of, creating those bridges, connecting people, creating a world where it’s not just okay to be different but a world where our differences are seen as important and beautiful and as methods of connecting with one another. If we were all the same, we wouldn’t learn and grow from each other. We can be equal in our differences and beautifully so. This is another reason why I choose to teach.

Because it’s honestly what I’m good at and it brings me joy. Most people don’t know this, but when I first started university at my young 18 years, I originally enrolled as a French education major. I thought that I wanted to teach French to high school students. However, the idea of teaching American high school students really dissatisfied me, so I dropped the education part of it. I went through the rest of university solely focusing on learning more about the French language and culture and in improving in it, not really focusing too much on what I wanted to do with it. So, I studied abroad, I tutored on the side, continued to study hard, and then I graduated. It wasn’t until the summer after graduating while I was teaching English to adult refugees that I realized that I was right all along about my calling. Maybe teaching French to American high school students wasn’t exactly my calling, but teaching language to make a difference in how people connect with one another in this world is. I must be honest. I never imagined myself teaching English to high school students. In fact, I eventually want to teach adults or university students, maybe through a nonprofit of some sorts, like for missionary work or maybe in helping again with refugees’ transitions. I’m still trying to figure out the details. I’m just trying to get as much as experience as I can right now. Though teaching high schoolers is not my ultimate goal, I do know that my spirit absolutely lights up when I’m in that classroom and I can see those connections being made, those differences being made in my students lives. Even if those moments can be few and far between, they are the moments that make all of the other crappy stuff worth the struggle. It is these moments I teach for. It is these moments that get me through those really rough days.

Yes, teaching can really suck sometimes and even make me question my entire life (okay maybe that’s a little dramatic but it’s kind of the truth). Teaching is tiring and stressful and not for the weak spirited. However, teaching is what I choose to do, and I choose to teach because it keeps me learning, growing, focusing on other people, and becoming a better version of myself each and every day that I do it. I choose to teach because it’s how I can personally make a difference in this world. Maybe it’s small, but it’s something. And I think that’s what ultimately matters in the end.

Why I Choose to Write.

I began writing for my own personal comfort by journaling, starting my Freshman year of college. I have always been someone who perceives the world more so through her emotions rather than through anything else. I also found that my head is always swimming with thoughts. I even have intense dreams most of the time, remembering from time to time very complex and intricate details when I wake up. My brain is always running, and when I’m feeling very emotional, I find it difficult to sort out my thoughts all on my own just by thinking through them. That’s why I chose to start keeping a journal.

Throughout most of my life I thought keeping a journal or a diary was strange, that it was only for angst-ridden teenagers. However, writing, even just to sort out one’s own thoughts is actually really good for your mind. It helps gather your thoughts, sort out your emotions, document memories and knowledge learned, and to even help you retain information that you have learned.

Once I began journaling, I saw the positive impact it had on my life. I was able to sort out my thoughts and emotions more clearly. I write when I’m feeling extremely emotional, and I found that it helps to calm me. For me, it’s almost like a form of meditation.

Once I saw the positive impact that it had on me and once I realized how much I enjoyed it, I began keeping a prayer journal. Since my mind is always swimming with thoughts, writing out my prayers helps me to keep from getting distracted by other thoughts or ideas floating around in my mind. Writing helps me to keep my focus on my time spent with God.

I also started journaling after I had read something that I either found extremely important, highly interesting, or grossly challenging. I started journaling about the reactions I had to literature. I started doing this after I’d read parts of the Bible, and I later started doing it with other books, too, because I saw how it helped me to gather my thoughts about what I had learned or maybe information that I didn’t understand.

At this point, I was keeping three separate journals, all for the three separate reasons that I had listed thus far. Keeping these three journals made me realize how much I enjoy writing and telling stories. Even though when I just began writing I was basically just telling stories to myself, I saw how much I enjoyed documenting my life and telling my story.

A year ago, I was severely depressed, lost, and confused about who I was and where I wanted to go in my life, that’s when I began writing poetry. Now, poetry has always been extremely difficult for me to understand, but I have always found immense pleasure in reading it. I also find poetry to be a wonderful mode of expressing oneself. Feelings and thoughts are not always clear, and with poetry, they don’t have to be. I found emotional relief through writing about my pain in the form of poetry. With poetry, I could write out my thoughts as they came. Poetry doesn’t always necessarily have to be clear to make sense, and poetry can come to have different meanings for whomever is reading it. I’ve always been someone who understands life better through symbols and analogies. Through poetry, I was able to use those things to talk about my pain without having to be direct about how I was feeling. I’m not a poetry expert, and I never plan to publish any of my poetry (at least not any time soon). However, I do enjoy it now, because it helps me to put my negative and positive emotions into an art form.

The last time I was in France, I kept a blog, mainly to keep my friends and family updated on what I was up to while I was studying abroad. However, I found that I loved sharing my little stories with the people I love. So, I decided to do it again the second time around and started this blog here. However, I wanted to do it differently.

I love travel blogs, because, well, I love traveling. I love learning about new travel tips and doing research on the places that I want to see and experience. However, there is an aspect about traveling that the majority of travel blogs don’t cover: the impact of cultural exchange on personal growth and on one’s shifted world perspective. This is the main part of traveling that I enjoy the most. I love learning about new cultures and meeting new people. I love learning about how people live differently than me, and I love how this helps me to grow as an individual and understand the world a little more. This is something that I want to capture when I write about my travel experiences, in addition to telling people about what I saw and did and about the new travel hacks that I learn along the way.

So, to summarize, I choose to write for many reasons. I choose to write because I have a story to tell, and I enjoy telling it. I will be honest. Traveling blogging is not a new thing. Writing poetry is not a new thing. Journaling is not a new thing. Blogging in general is not a new thing. I am not unique in any of these, however, I enjoy writing in all of these forms because I enjoy continuing to sort out my thoughts and ideas. I enjoy putting art out there, both for my enjoyment and for the potential enjoyment of others. I enjoy writing because of the possibility of helping someone else to realize their own story. I enjoy writing because of the possibility of inspiring someone else to tell their own story or of inspiring them to pursue their dreams and their goals.

I choose to write because it makes me understand the world and myself a little bit better.