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Many of you know me, and know that I live to travel. Do you know why, though? I created this blog as a way to share my experiences and thoughts, and one of the most important things I am trying to say is that I acknowledge how lucky I am to have these experiences. I am lucky, partly, because I was born a white person in America. I will not say I am necessarily lucky to be a girl, albeit, I am thankful I am not a man, because I am happy with who I am, but being a woman comes with a lot of disadvantages in this patriarchal world we live in. And, often, I am not even that happy to be an American, and as I travel I try to prove that there are Americans that are not the stereotypical ignorant and pretentious lot that a lot of the world perceives us to be. However, I am privileged, yes. I grew up in a loving home, with support from my friends and family that I could do anything, be anything, go anywhere. THIS is a privilege.
First and foremost I want to inspire those in the home I come from to acknowledge their own privileges, thus, my site is titled the luckiest bird alive, because despite all the things I don’t have, and don’t know, and won’t ever have or know, I know I am lucky to be alive. I know that not everyone feels this way, but I want to help people understand that regardless of how lucky or unlucky they feel, they are lucky to be alive, and if you do not feel lucky, then yes, I believe a change is in order. And if you cannot enact that change by yourself, that you may need help, you should be able to go to others who are more privileged than yourself, and ask for help, but know that in this world we live in, change is possible; feeling lucky is possible.
Yes, this world is a crazy, often scary, place, and tomorrow I could die, as any of us could, but for many that chance is a lot stronger than it is for me. Because I am privileged. To be born in a country that is not physically war torn, to have access to an education system (that I can take out a lot of loans to pay for), to have access to the best health care in the world (again, for a lot of money), that is lucky, because I had no choice in the matter. I was just born with a lot of opportunities at my fingertips, that sure, take hard work and dedication to achieve, but for many others around the world, these opportunities are much farther than an arm’s length.
Obviously, I love international travel, because it gives new perspectives on how to live, and that just because we live the way we do, doesn’t mean it is the absolute ultimate. People around the world live on a lot less, are happy with a lot less, and many will never get to see the worlds beyond their local scope. Yes, we have technology so that through screens we can learn, but just remember that – it is a screen. Everything you consume through the media, you are seeing through someone else’s eyes. This is not always bad thing. Often it is art, and art is subjective, and art for me is about beauty, truth, and love, in the bohemian sense, which I strive to adhere to, (fine, call me a dirty hippie, I don’t care). But, the media is bad when it becomes manipulative. I don’t want to necessarily change anyone’s opinion, but I do want to inspire them to look at things differently than they always have, and maybe their opinion can adjust because of something they didn’t know before.
As Americans, like much of the rest of the world, particularly western, we are taught to be successful, in the sense that success means a good education, a good job/career, and to find a good partner to raise a family with. Yes, there are other definitions of success, but this is the most typical meaning. To rebel against these ideals is not easy. I’ve left the country numerous times now to go abroad, and not because I was so inspired by any one particular person in my life, but because I felt could not do otherwise. After I taught English in South Korea, I thought I had to come back and get a “real job,” downtown, in the corporate world. I did. And for 6 months I thought about if I could continue in this way of life. I felt I couldn’t. I left to travel, without much of a plan, for 4 months. It was the best experience of my life. I realized that I loved to travel, and that I wanted to do more of it, somehow for the rest of my life. I didn’t know how I was going to accomplish that, but I was more comfortable with my unplanned life after this trip. I took smaller trips around the States, wanting to have seen more of this beautiful country I was born in, and not let anyone tell me that I wasn’t taking advantage of it or had no knowledge of how lucky I was to have access to such beauty in nature, (a few of our cities are very cool, too). And as much as I enjoyed these trips around the USA, they were lacking for me, missing the more colourful aspects of culture that you get when you travel abroad.
I am glad that travel is trending, honestly, it is great that our generation can be inspired to leave their bubbles and experience something completely new and different. Even if for many it is just a vacation, or working abroad while someone else plans your itineraries, or even for a destination wedding. My hope is that people of our generation and younger are even more inspired than our parents were to go out and explore the worlds that we’ve been privy through our screens, on television, in the movie theatre, and on our social media networks; that we will not take what we see for granted but go see it for ourselves.
To say that you like to travel has become a bit cliche, already, and so, even as I am apart of that trend, I want to also distinguish myself from that. I’ve realized that I want to work with people and when meeting someone, wherever that may be, in Chicago or elsewhere, I love being able to say that I’ve been where they’re from. I want to see where everyone is from. My degree in International Studies started me on a path to an unclear destination, except out of the country. My concentration in Globalization and Identity is more appplicable to the world we face and the life I want to lead more than I ever thought it would be. It is really just a technical way to say that I am prepared to further study who I am and where I fit in the greater scheme in this modern world, but I want it even more to be about helping others find their place. I know I can go home and get a job and live a ‘normal’ life, I know I can do anything, so why just go home and do that?
I’m in Berlin now and am about to go Ghana to volunteer. I came to Berlin for a couple weeks because I wanted to see if I could see myself here, if I would really want to study here, and really live here for a few years. To break away from my home in Chicago is not easy, even if I have done it before, and especially if the next time I do, it might be for a good while that I’m gone.
Traveling has also reminded me again and again, that time flies, and the most important thing is to be in the moment, wherever you are, because whether bad or good, that moment may give you something that you need to learn or grow from, and will help you with all the future moments.
I am looking forward to seeing what I can do in Africa and what this will mean for what I want to do after this. We know why people travel. Why do people migrate? What is this world of post colonialism? How can we appreciate our lives and help others less fortunate? How can we spread and inspire love between cultures and ethnicities? I travel because I want to learn. I meet people because I want to learn. I want to be always be learning, and if you want otherwise, you’re closing yourself off to a pure joy that can be found on this planet. Let’s meet, let’s discuss, let’s help each other.