If asked to compose a bucket list, I wonder how many people would include “travel the world.” I am no exception to this. However, I have come to the realization that I have seen so little of my own country at an age where I can truly appreciate it. Why bother looking internationally when I barely know my own backyard?
My parents both grew up in South Korea. My dad comes from a family where they held educational prestige very highly. To this day, the nation is very exam oriented and a single exam for each stage determines which school you will attend: middle school, high school, and of course college. In a nation where a single exam can create a significant impact in the course of your future, kids in Korea undergo a significant amount of pressure to perform in these exams. My dad failed to get into the #1 high school of Korea, and in his shame, he ran away from home and wandered the entire nation by foot while occasionally stowing away on trains. What happened during this time is an incredible story itself, and I believe when I heard this story of my father as a 12 year old, it planted a seed of adventure in me as a high school student.
My dad immigrated to the States back about 30 years ago. He did not move here for the American Dream. He did not come here for a chance at a better job or even for a better future for his children. He came to America because he told me Korea was too small for him. From childhood up to high school, as a family, we have gone on numerous road trips exploring much of America. My decision on making this the first part of my long term travel is inspired by my dad and dedicated to him as well. He is very much alive, but he has decided to take on different ambitions and so I hope to be his eyes, ears, and legs on this trip. I hope to be an inspiration to my dad as he has been to me.
And how fitting is it that I am departing for my trip on the morning of July 4th? On the birthday of our nation, I will have the privilege to explore its beauties!