OPINION: Take a trip, find yourself and learn something new

By Monica Barker, Opinion Editor

So much of who we are is where we’ve been. From all 50 states, to six continents and counting, I’ve seen just about it all.

For me, it all started at the age of 2 when I began going cross country over the summers with my family. By the time I was six, I spent two whole months traveling Asia. Hopping on and off trains, getting lost in stations and, most importantly, being infamous “American tourists.”

I was fortunate enough to go to China and Japan before it was a common thing for Americans. Seeing foreigners in that country was unusual for natives, so they were quick to feel my curly hair and take photos alongside me which were even posted in local newspapers.

After that, the adventures never ended; I’ve been traveling every summer for as long as I can remember. The thing about my traveling experiences is that I’ve been taught a vital lesson: without travel, something within me is dormant.

The difference from going away now and going away when I was young is before, I actually got lost in vacations. All I had was a disposable camera. At a young age I had no interests and ability to text my friends 24/7 and FaceTime them all night. But now, when I travel outside of the country, my dad buys me phone plans to contact everyone. I post everything I see on my Snapchat story, take dramatic pictures in front of popular tourist attractions and post them for everyone to see. Rather than immersing myself in my vacation, I am guilty of trying to connect to my world back home. When I was young I wasn’t there to escape life, but to bury myself in it.

What I’ve learned most while traveling the world is that it’s an experience everyone should take advantage of. I look back on the times when I’ve traveled to some of the most exotic locations, and unfortunately, I didn’t appreciate nor commemorate every last second of it. Not too many people can claim they’ve rode elephants through Thailand, been shopping through huts in Haiti, got their leg stuck in a subway in Tokyo, been escorted around Russia or robbed on a German train. These are all occasions I’ve personally been through! But as the days go on, each moment blurs into the next.

Considering my sightseeing is something I’ll never want to lose, I have an urge to never stop. Passing the original Terracotta Army in China, going river shopping in a small row boat in Malaysia, seeing the Pyramids of Giza up close in Egypt, walking through the Saadian Temple of Morocco and more: these were the moments in my life that brought me to be who I am today. While I look back, I realize all of those moments brought together remind me that life means more than how many likes an Instagram post gets. At this time, going away is about showing off via social media, not the destination itself.

To those of you who have not had the ability to travel, yet, a word of advise: don’t go when you are six years old. Don’t let each trip emerge into the next, as it unfortunately has happened to myself since I was at a young age.

I will continue to travel because I believe we must take adventures in order to know where we belong. My next stops are Cuba and islands in the French Polynesian, including Tahiti, Bora Bora, Motu and Moorea. Now that I am older and have learned from my past travels,, I plan to actually remember every moment I spend around the world. Traveling enables a person to realize how pure the world is, and lets one find home in a thousand strange places.