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Ode to Nomads: Don’t forget to go home.

This is not another whiny, angst-filled post about how bad things happen to good people. Or marveling at tiny pathetic moments of kindness when I see it.

This is a testament of the confusing, turbulent lifestyle that nomads and young travelers thirsting to see the world (by “see” I mean explicitly willing to fight your drooping lids of sleep because you were too drunk or poor to book a hostel and secretly expecting adventure-filled nights where you are taken home by a European, only to find they are from out of town and their daddy owns an apartment in which you and said European spend all night giggling and speaking in broken English and/or having passionate, toe-curling sex). I am a little bit spoiled and lucky in that respect – I come from a solid foundation of a family that allows me to galavant around Europe and Africa without worrying about finances. Not only do I spend my summers tediously working at internships or volunteering to gain back that money in minimum wage and scholarships, I truly care about what I do. Even if you aren’t in love with what you’re doing, do it to the best of your ability, with every fibrous being of your being (which essentially is a mix of cellular systems when it comes down to it, so what’s the worth of half-assing anything?). When you’re partying, stay out all night. Don’t worry about that midterm on Monday morning, and when that sexy European asks you to go to another bar, say yes. They say that saying “No” can be liberating, but I don’t think anybody was ever liberated by saying “No” to bungee-jumping. Felix Baumgartner agrees.

I’m not even going to bash my college like I usually do. I am praising the youths that one day decided they wanted to go abroad for work, school, leisure, or better yet, volunteer in a developing country. These (myself included) are the ones with wide-eyed curiosity, who view the world with a constant wonder, “Is this all there is?” Sitting in history at my high school, I knew I wanted to see the real Angkor Wat in Cambodia and the ruins post-Khmer Rouge. Sitting in Cross-Cultural Management in college, I want to scream that I’ve been to all of these places and seen these so-called developing countries. Who determines the process of “developing”? Some of these people are more developed in Humanity than Americans. Interacting with people in both humanities and business at my school, I am shocked at the number of students simply unaware of what’s going on in Libya or Syria, or even the difference between Taiwan and Thailand.

Yet, after spending lengths of time in a particular country, your understanding of belonging and space and home are convoluted; the tri-state area is always my first home, but my second and third homes lie in Paris, Arusha, Tainan, and more. Each place that I visit or live in becomes a part of me. The friends and memories are cherished intangible souvenirs. Material possessions become less important. Routine becomes more stifling and unfulfilling.  Everything is standard, everyone is from the same place and they haven’t left since they were born. Where is the adventure?

I can say with experience that it is possible to stay grounded, even as a nomad. As the HBR article (cited below) states, a home does not need to be a place. Embracing the struggles of identity and sense of place is both frustrating and difficult, but I do believe it creates a stronger person of a learned background with real-life experiences.

I admit that I need a breath of colorful air now and then from my black-and-white world. I flee to New York or even Philly to grasp movement and change of pace. I meet up with friends from abroad so we can plan our next adventures. I surround myself with friends who possess the travel bug – it’s not just a disease, it’s a lifestyle. I have my ties here, but keeping in touch with friends from Dublin, Auckland, Toronto, Arizona, and Ohio keeps me sane and reassures me, motivates me to keep going. Because I also know that as much as I love to travel, settling down one day with a family is a major possibility and goal.

This weekend, as I sit down in solitude and finally process a half-semester’s worth of weekend adventures and hardcore studying, I have time to write in peace. As I relax and prepare to dedicate my fall break to my senior thesis, I travel to faraway lands from my photographs and use my laptop to read about the places in the world in which people live longest (on IHT). Home. It’s a place often forgotten about for nomads, a place not always appreciated for its comfort, faith and love. I am surrounded by my parents, my puppy, and peace.

Inspiration derived from HBR.

The BEST holidays

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