As I left for the airport I remember wondering how different life would be when I returned home. I knew I would come back and see the world differently but I didn’t realize how powerful of an impact this journey would have on me in just a short amount of time. After flying out of JFK, I had a 10 hour layover in LA. I had never been to California before that so I decided to explore Venice Beach with a few people I met on my program. I couldn’t believe how different the lifestyle was than that of New York. As I walked down the boardwalk I thought to myself wow, everyone here is really strange. Every single person I saw had something different about them. At first I was a bit thrown off but then I realized how cool it actually was. It was like every person there was cool and unique in their own way, not just all wearing suits and dressing the same like in Manhattan. After our layover we flew in Fiji, where we stayed for 4 days. Fiji was unlike anywhere I’ve ever been. The people there were, for the most part, very poor. But they were probably the happiest group of people I’ve ever met. Everyone there was genuinely nice, they were just happy to be alive. This really made me think about the lifestyle in New York where many people are pissed off, stressed out and worried more about what features the next iPhone will have rather than enjoying life. Some of the little kids in the village we stayed at had never even seen an iPhone before yet they might seriously be the happiest children in the world. My days in Fiji have, without a doubt, made me a better person. After Fiji we stayed in Sydney for a few nights and experienced the city lifestyle. Sydney is pretty much a cleaner version of Manhattan, it felt a bit more like home there, especially after coming from an island. After all of that we finally made it to the Gold Coast, where we are currently living a block from the beach. Here, the people are very friendly and just want to have a good time. It reminds me of Miami as it is a bit pricey and very modern. So in this two short weeks I have experienced the laid back California lifestyle, the power of natural beauty and optimism in Fiji and the modern Australian culture. I know I have a lot of new cultures ahead of me but I’d say this is a pretty solid start. I already see the world differently and think this trip will continue to fuel my desire for exploration.
New cultures can seem a bit intimidating and confusing, but I love learning about how different people do different things. Something our program manager said to us really stuck with me, “its not weird, its different”. Its pretty cheesy but its actually a great way to look at the world. Many of the things we do in America certainly look strange to foreigners, so our way of living isn’t necessarily the right way. A quote I like that describes this is from G. K. Chesterton, “The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” I want to come back to America with this attitude and try to see my own country from an outside perspective. I will compare my new lifestyles with my old when and I will see what I like better. I think its extremely important to take a step back and evaluate your life from an outside, unbiased perspective. By blending our new lifestyles learned through traveling with our old ways, we can hopefully reach our perfect lifestyle.
This week my picture is taken across the bay from the Opera house. I had obviously seen pictures of it but seeing it in person was inexplicably beautiful. It was a reminder that I am on the other side of the world and made me realize just how lucky I am.