At the beginning of this quarter I thought I was going to spend my Winter Break playing way too many video games and basketball. Turns out, fate had other plans, so by the time this post is up, I will be in Asia – Hong Kong and Taiwan, to be exact. I spent a good portion of my childhood traveling, so this won’t be my first time to those destinations, but it will be my first time traveling alone internationally. And to be honest, I’m a bit nervous.
Even in my brief experiences, I have had some strange travel stories to tell. During my medical missions trips, I have been stopped countless times by curious customs officers wondering why I was carrying a suitcase full of syringes or a box full of reading glasses. Other times, I have been asked for bribes and accosted by unlicensed drivers. I know people that have been robbed at gunpoint in Peru and a relative of mine has been held in jail in China because his name happened to match one on a government watchlist. So yeah, I know more than most that traveling is inherently a bit risky.
But in the end, it’s definitely worth it. I’ve had the chance to play pickup basketball in Kenya, Taiwan, and Burma, eaten an all-crab meal on the streets of Saigon, and hiked the King’s Trail on the Big Island of Hawaii. And I’ve become a more well-rounded, informed, and culturally sensitive person for it. This is why I always tell collegians younger than me to travel or study abroad if they can. No one I know has ever come back from a travel-study program regretting it! Having the time to see the world is one luxury you might only have for these four years, so take hold of it when you can.
For now, have a good break. See you guys on the other side!