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“To Travel is to Live” – Hans Christian Andersen

I didn’t start traveling until I was nineteen and a half years old. My first time outside California was studying abroad in London my sophomore year of university. I fell in love with traveling because it taught me a lot of lessons. I believe second to reading, traveling is the second greatest investment you can make in yourself because there are so many things you can learn by experience. I’ve only explored different parts of the US and Europe, but here are some of the things I learned while traveling.

The World ISN’T as Dangerous as you Think it is.

I stayed in a hostel in South-side Chicago for 9 days. South-side Chicago is the homicide capital of the United States. I was there to attend a music festival. I couldn’t find any cheap housing and this was the cheapest I could find ($40, which was still not cheap at all). I’ve had many biases built up of this place. Gangbangers, muggers, and thieves ruling the place. Yes, these biases were formed upon facts. I learned upon the weekend I was there 67 people were shot throughout those two days. But that wasn’t what I experienced at all.

I met a man named Jay in this hostel. He was a Nazarite street preacher( No cutting hair, no grapes or wine, and can’t be in the presence of dead bodies). He was in South-side because he believed it was too hard to bring people to church, and that’s why he’s bringing the church to the people. I went street preaching with him.

The majority of South-side residents were Black. I was lucky to be walking with Jay because he was also Black. The first people we met were kids. Teens wearing baggy clothing. They were probably associated with a gang. But Jay said, “Hey, what’s up brother, I’m giving out the Word today, wanna hear?” And one of them said “Sure, I could use it today.” We gave him the Word and I got to listen to his story. Just kids trying to live life. The rest of the residents we talked to were like this. Hustling and doing WHATEVER it takes to get through life.

I made it out of South-side Chicago alive. But that experience helped me realize that not everyone in what we think are the slums or ghettos are bad people. They’ve been mistreated poorly and are trying their best to make the best out of an extremely bad circumstance.

My biased also extend to Europe. They always say “watch out for pickpocketers” which is absolutely true, because tourists are an easy target, but that bias blocked me off from everyone. I felt everyone was a potential pickpocketer and was constantly grasping onto my things. I later learned that’s false to an extent too. Not everyone’s out to get me. Yes, we have to secure our belongings, but everyone we meet shouldn’t be viewed as a potential threat.

The World isn’t as dangerous as we think it is. It’s an awesome place to live in. 

People Are AWESOME

My favorite part about traveling is meeting new people. It’s the people that make me want to go to a location. When I lived in London, I had the opportunity to make lifelong friends there that make me want to keep coming back there and they’re amazing people I still connect with online and can talk about personal things with them. When I was in London, I met a girl from my church small group and she had started a non-profit helping South-Sudanese refugees in Northern Uganda make traditional items to make a sustainable business. 


I learn so much from my international friends because they have different worldviews and it expands my own perspective. 

How Others View Our Country

I think it’s funny when I’m hanging out with my friends from London, they would refer to me as “He’s from The States.” It’s interesting because as someone from the United States of America, I would self-identify as an “American” Which in a sense is correct, but I guess according to them, an American can refer to anyone on the western continents of the Americas.

My host in Budapest was an African lady. She’s never been to the US, so her only exposure of what Americans are like is through the media. She asked me questions like “Is it true it’s illegal to drive while black?” or “If you mess up, will everyone around you pull out their guns and shoot you?” Those were questions I’d NEVER hear back in the US. I refuted with the media distorts facts to create stories. For the cops vs African-American topic, I said the media never shows the number of cops killed in the line of duty and refuting for guns in America, I said that’s probably how it is in Texas, but the rest of the country is a lot more controlled.

It’s also hilarious listening to international people recite an American accent back at you. It’s uncomfortably perfect. 

Budget Airlines SUCK

I’ve lost a total of $400 on Spirit Airlines. It’s primarily my fault for being stupid, but I partially blame these budget airlines too. The first time I lost $200 was during my trip to Chicago. I have a personal policy to wait three days for anything to see if I want to buy it online. I waited these 3 days, but apparently, I bought tickets for the wrong dates. I was forced to buy new ones right away for the correct dates. The second time was from my flight from Washington DC to Boston. I didn’t see that there were two different airports in DC/Baltimore and this one was in Baltimore. I was forced to buy a $200 ticket for a flight from DC to Boston. These two incidents were MY fault.

There also pretty tight. I’m not the biggest guy, but it’s confining. Can’t imagine how someone taller than me feels on a flight with them. For longer flights, we gotta pay for dinner. We get for what we pay for, simple as that. I’ve found the best experiences with these budget airlines have been in Europe where the distance is short, so the pain isn’t that long.

I don’t want to just poop on budget airlines though, they get me where I need to for a great price. If you’re looking for a summer vacation, check out the link below! You’ll find awesome deals for flights!

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I’m going to generalize California as home for me because I’m from Northern California but relocated to Southern California. Which by the way is naturally 10x better than most places which is why this post is going to be a little biased. After being away from home for so long, I recount all the blessings I have. For example in San Jose, I have such an amazing family, good friends, amazing places to eat, and sunshine for the majority of the year. San Diego is very similar, with friends, food, nature, and weather.

Other places don’t have them and I’m blessed to be where I am in life. 

Traveling ISN’T as Perfect as Social Media depicts it

Traveling is just EXHAUSTING. Going through TSA, sitting on planes, trains, and cars is draining. Even after 6 months of my month-long journey, I do NOT want to travel again any time soon. I still day-dream about Dubai, Sydney, and London, but I won’t be there any time soon.

Most of the pictures we post on social media are usually us smiling. Most of the time, y’all don’t see the stress on our face when we’re lost, or we’re looking for someone who speaks English, or somewhere that takes our American credit cards.

Social media also builds expectations is these places. I was severely disappointed when I visited Venice. Venice is too romanticized to the point where they covered up all their big flaws such as they’re pushing out their youth so more tourists can come in.

There’s a lot of stress that comes through traveling. Social media won’t show it and even our memories won’t remember it. 

Life is SHORT

When I was in Budapest, I was coming back from a thermal spa. I was taking the train back.  I was sitting in the back of the car, chilling and people watching. I noticed a Korean couple come in. The guy notices he’s on the wrong train and gets out. his friend is still inside, so as the door closes, he sticks his arm in to stop the door. But the door must not have sensors or something, because the doors closed and the train started to speed up. It started to drag him alongside the station. Everyone in our car (including me) was screaming and panicking. The people next to the door got the doors to open. The train suddenly stopped midway through the tunnel. I was looking at everyone and asking a young man to translate everything going on into English. I thought the Korean man got his arm ripped off. Others thought he got dragged under the tracks. I later found out he was indeed alive and only his right arm and right leg were broken.

Everything that could’ve gone wrong went absolutely wrong. I found out there was a driver for those trains and his job is to check the rear-view mirrors to see if there was anything stuck in the doors. But for this one instance, he didn’t check the doors. The Korean man made an assumption technology was the same everywhere. That these doors would have sensors to open whenever something was caught in them. I would’ve made the same mistake too. Trains are an everyday part of life for Europeans. An equivalent for us Americans is cars. These every day things are speeding bullets.

We’re blessed to be given the breath in our lungs every waking day. 

These are the lessons I’ve learned while traveling. I’m sure you’ll have a different experience on your journey, but you’ll grow immensely as a person. I recommend you to travel to somewhere new and experience something new!

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