After spending two months in Korea while teaching English and backpacking around Europe, I can say that I have had one of the most life-changing summers of my life. During my time in Korea, I have made many new friends and rekindled old ones, improved my Korean, found more time for writing and photography, all while making a few bucks on the side. My backpacking trip through Europe was equally as great during my time in Korea, where I had much time for self-reflection and contemplation, and being able to truly go out and see the world.
What I have learned through my time abroad is that home is where the heart is. I have always valued and revered the idea of family and home, but I don’t think I truly grasped how truly precious it was until my personal self-revelation while trekking through half-way across the globe.
Backpacking through Europe has been my dream for several years, and I was finally able to accomplish it. Europe has always appealed to me in several ways, from the romance of Paris, the history of Rome, the artwork of Florence, the scenery of Cinque Terre, the surreal canals in Venice, the culture of Prague, and to the urban scene of London. I always saw Europe as much more appealing than Los Angeles in many ways and that it was my ambition to go out and see the world. Although I knew practically nothing about traveling, I took out a $5000 loan from school and booked all of my flights and rooms and headed out of SFO with no regrets and no fears.
Despite what you may believe, life overseas is not much different from back home than one may think. When it comes down to it, People from every nation love to be social, sleep, eat, and drink. Although different countries have different landmarks, cultures, and foods, they share much more similarities than differences. Although there is that initial “wow-factor” of experiencing new cultures and places, there is nothing you can’t do overseas that you can’t do back home.
Sure it seems romantic to sip wine in Paris, but what makes that experience any different from drinking wine back home with a loved one in a romantic setting? We all want to ride the gondolas in Venice and have a guy in a striped shirt row you along narrow canals, but aside from being overpriced and not too thrilling in actuality, you can always go to your local lake and rent your own boat (don’t forget to pack a picnic too). Seeing churches and museums are nice in Rome, but how many of us have seen all of the historic churches and museums from back home?
Sometimes we got to quit living with a telescope to our eye to see all of the great things in life that we have right before us. By always dreaming about traveling overseas, I lost sight of all the blessings that I have back home.
I do not, however, regret traveling overseas. In fact, it took to me traveling overseas to figure out how precious home truly was. There is a saying in the Bible: “Where your heart is there your treasure will be also”. I always believed my treasure to be somewhere in Europe, but when going there, it always seemed to lead me back home. Finding that my treasure was truly at home, rather than overseas, I think that is where I found my heart.