There are people in my hometown of Bakersfield, CA who have never left. They were born there, grew up in the God-awful summer heat, raised their children, and will probably spend their last days taking strolls in Riverwalk Park and visiting the Marketplace for discounted matinee movies on Tuesdays. A lifetime spent in one place and they never wanted to leave. They were content with that. But me? I’m different.
I don’t know if it’s mere youthful restlessness or wanderlust or whatever else you want to call it, but I’ve always had this itching in my gut to move. I’ve always wanted to see new places, to have new experiences, to go somewhere I’ve never been before. I don’t know a time when I ever opted to stay still instead of going somewhere new. It’s not just a deeply rooted desire to see new things. I’ve always had a constant desire to learn. And if learning requires diving headfirst into something utterly foreign to you, then it only makes sense that I’ve always wanted to travel.
I find difficulty in describing exactly why I desire to study abroad. I suppose I’d fare better describing what I’d like to feel when I get to another country. I want to fill my lungs with oxygen from a completely different continent. I want to walk down the street and imagine if any of my heralded artists or writers left footprints there long ago. I want to hit up all the typical touristy spots to take pictures to send home to my mom and dad, but I also want to discover the underground, the true London. I want to spend hours in art galleries and visit music venues and scour bookstores for ancient, well-worn copies.
The education is what I’m after. Ignorance is the root of any number of problems in our world together—the seed of hate and prejudice and discrimination. I want to make sure I’m the kind of person who will push our society forward in progress and not hold it back; studying abroad can help me experience the lives of people so far away from what I’m familiar with and aid me in getting a better grip on how our world works.
Furthermore, I’m a writer. At least, I hope to be a professional writer some day in my fast-approaching future and I strongly believe that in order to write about interesting things, you must experience interesting things. Bakersfield is a fascinating place, as is California, as is the United States, but I’m ready for more. I’m ready to learn about the people and places so far away from me, how we’re different, how we’re the same. I’m aware the United States is far from the only country in the world, but I have yet to put that belief to practice. This world holds a vast number of wonders and I have seen far too few. It’s time to change that. And I say I start now.