Farewell Journal

The World is Waiting on You

My semester in Korea is almost over and I must begin preparing to go back home. As I say goodbye to my new friends, I am reminded of how lucky I am to have been here at all. Living in a new country has challenged me and taught me as much about myself as it has taught me about others. How did I get here, and how can others share my opportunity?

5%. According to the calculator on WhereIveBeen.com, in 28 years I have seen only 5% of planet Earth. When I think about how I have traveled across 13 countries and almost every state in America, I feel like I’ve seen so much. When I think about that number, I realize I have actually seen so little. I yearn to see it all.

So why do I want to travel so badly? Why do some people spend huge amounts of money to study or vacation in foreign lands? Maybe they want to see the tallest mountain in the world or a beautiful beach with pure white sands. Some people travel to see beautiful landscapes or exotic animals, but I think that these are minor reasons for me. I travel because I want to meet people, cultures, and new perspectives on life.

I think I have been one of the luckiest people in the world because I have been able to travel so much and meet inspiring people that changed the entire direction of my life. In each new place I visit, I learn something new. My eyes are opened a little bit wider, my mind is stretched a little bit further.

Is it a faraway beach that calls to you?

People are the amazing part of travel for me. We all came from the same ancient origin, but we have developed amazing differences in the way we think, speak and act. We have so much to learn from each other, but many people miss the opportunity. I am grateful I found a few of those opportunities in my travels and they have led me to greater and greater ones ever since.

Many people tell me that they wish they could travel as much as I do. They say that they don’t have the time or the money to travel. I don’t believe that. If you are motivated and really put your mind to it, you can do everything I have done and so much more! I come from a poor family in the countryside and I never had any more money than my classmates that didn’t travel. The difference was in my priorities. I dreamed about going abroad. I was constantly curious about other languages, religions, and traditions. I knew I had to find a way to do it.

I worked hard in school to get good grades and applied for every college scholarship I could find. My school counselors helped me to look for them and I searched the internet for sites like Fastweb.com that list available scholarships. There are thousands of scholarships out there waiting to be earned by someone just like you, all you have to do is try for them! I found scholarships that have paid the vast majority of my schooling and study abroad. I never could have afforded it without them.

I still needed to work part time jobs to make ends meet, but the scholarships are what made everything possible for me. We are lucky to live in a country like the United States. Despite the news stories about recessions and massive debt, our government still takes very good care of us compared to other countries. My first scholarships were all granted to me through Federal Student Aid. These are awards that anyone can apply for and will help you based on the amount of need you have. I was so grateful for the generosity of this program.

Even my current semester in Korea was paid for by a generous scholarship like this. It is called the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program and they give up to $8,000 per semester for students to follow their dreams of studying around the globe. The Gilman program is also the reason I am able to share all these stories and adventures with you! I was given the chance to work with Reach the World exactly because I received the Gilman scholarship!

We may be in South Korea, but our friendships link us all over the world!

I want to tell you about these opportunities that filled my life with adventure and new discoveries because I want you to be able to do the same. Don’t be one of the people who says there is no way. Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”

I have found that just by making the decision to absolutely commit yourself to doing something, all sorts of unexpected things will begin to happen to help you on your way. All you have to do is begin the journey.

Thank you so much for following me on my travels through Korea and letting me share this very special place with you. My mind is filled with new ideas that I can’t wait to take back home and thoughts of friends that I don’t want to leave behind. I hope you have learned something new from my adventure too, but more importantly, I hope you are inspired to begin your own. There is no way to really understand this experience except by living it yourself. This is a huge and incredible world and it is waiting for you to come out and play. Dream, explore, and discover it.

A mountaintop sanctuary

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