once upon a time (or, why all the traveling?)

I love traveling. The thing is, I hate being a tourist. I’d much rather move somewhere and live there for a while than visit a whole bunch of tourist traps for only a few days each. Actually getting to know a new place well is more important for me than racking up frequent flier miles or the bragging rights to visiting a hundred world clock cities.

That’s why I went to Japan for a year as a junior in high school. That’s also why I’ve found myself now, at the cusp of my college career, with a one-way ticket to Paris.

Okay, so there are other reasons I keep bailing on school for a foreign country for months at a time. It probably stems from my childhood: between kindergarten and eighth grade I switched schools five times, and before then I’d spent my early years between Manila and New York City. By the time I entered high school I was used to being the new kid and making good first impressions on people. (The second to tenth impressions, though, I still kinda had to work on.)

But there are also a few good reasons to do it even without that background. I went to Japan to get more independent from my family and get a life outside of academics. I’m going to France for similar and different reasons:

– I’d still like to learn how to live on my own, but also
– I need a change of pace (I’d hate to break my tradition of never staying in one school for more than three years straight),
– I want more time to figure out what I want to do with my life, and
– I want to become more focused on my academic work without getting burned out.

I’ve discovered that I do very badly in huge lecture classes with professors and TAs who don’t know I exist, and dorm life really distracts me from papers and problem sets. That results in all-nighters and other things that have been screwing with my already maxed-out health. I need to slow down, and having to do classes in a different language gives me some leeway if I have to explain my ailing academic record to grad schools. However, my main reason is simple:

I love taking the plunge.

Yeah, there are costs to being perpetually in transit:

For one, I don’t have many childhood friends, or very close friends to hang out with in general. The good friends I *do* have are hard to hang out with because they’re scattered around the country (and the globe).

For another, I’ve missed a lot of important things in school– somehow I managed to avoid learning how to diagram a sentence in grade school, and Japan came at the expense of some classes I really should’ve taken with the rest of my friends, like AP Calculus and AP Chem.

And when I leave for France in three weeks, I will be leaving behind my friends and my boyfriend of a bit under two years, and I’ll have to start from scratch again. I’ll be dealing with the French bureaucratic system. When I come back next spring, almost all of my closest friends will be graduating. They might not even be my closest friends anymore. Everything will be different.

It’s gonna suck.

But hey, you know what? It’s one hell of a ride.


1 Response to “once upon a time (or, why all the traveling?)”

  1. 1 back to our regularly scheduled program « transitory residence Trackback on March 6, 2007 at 10:13 pm

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This is a blog of things place-related, by a cash-strapped Stanford grad who's lived in various places and writes about life. She's currently looking for a job in Manhattan or the Bay Area.

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