December 2nd, 2015
Ever since I could hold a camera, I was doing just that. Taking pictures, shooting videos, forcing my friends to act in my short films. I've always wanted to make films for a living.
I haven't always longed to travel, but I've always loved experiencing new things and places. In 2014 I traveled to Spain with some of my classmates, and it was the best ten days of my life. That's what really sparked my desire to travel. My time in Spain was spent wandering the streets with some of my closest friends, eating amazing new foods, seeing architecture unlike I've ever seen before and meeting new people. Ever since then, I've looked for every opportunity possible to get out and travel. Whether it's traveling across the country to Boston, Massachusetts, or traveling across the bridge to Ballard, WA, I've always loved exploring the streets of a city and documenting my experiences.
My desire to travel and see the world has sparked an idea. A crazy, exciting and possibly life changing idea. Next year, in 7 months, I'll be flying to Europe with a one-way ticket and traveling the continent for a year. This is certainly the biggest thing I've ever decided to do, especially since I've only traveled alone once or twice. I feel ready though. This idea, this dream, it’s surreal to me. But I think when it comes to actually setting foot on that first plane, I'll realize what I'm really doing.
This idea wasn't actually mine. In fact, I think it was my mom's. My parents support me entirely, especially since they have had the chance to travel and see at least parts of the world. My mom left her home in Tacoma, WA when she was eighteen and moved to Hawaii for a year. I definitely see myself in my mom’s desire to travel and start a new chapter of life. My dad, too, was able to travel. He lived in Germany for a year in college and saw parts of the world, like Iraq and Australia, when he was on deployment in the Navy. They are also very adventurous people. My mom is a certified stand up paddleboard instructor as well as a certified personal trainer. They both used to race in triathlons before my mom went on to run ultra-marathons, and my dad did an Ironman. He said he'll never do one again after that. They met in Palo Alto, California in 1993 and were together for five years before they had me. Those five years included two six-month deployments to the Persian Gulf for my dad. They missed each other immensely during that time (my mom would even send my dad five-pound bags of Jolly Ranchers directly to his ship).
Since my sister and I were born, however, my family hasn't traveled worldwide a lot. We used to go to Hawaii every year, and we've traveled to different places along the West coast a bit. I think the lack of international travel in my life so far just makes me want to get out and see even more. You can only live vicariously through people in documentaries and in YouTube videos for so long. When I told my parents that I was ready to stop that vicarious living and instead go live in the real world--that I wanted to spend my senior year of high school travelling alone in Europe--they supported me. They may still be nervous about their 17-year-old son getting on a plane and cruising through Europe alone, but they support me. (They say that this will give them an excuse to come visit me.)
When I travel to a new place, I feel completely disconnected from my normal day-to-day life. I’ve gotten so used to my everyday life and surroundings, that it feels surreal to travel to a new place and not know the language, or not know my way around, or not know what you’ll learn the next day. Traveling, to me, is one of the purest forms of education. When you see and experience new things, you learn things about not only those places, people, languages and traditions, but about yourself as well. You’re forced to reflect on yourself when you’re not in autopilot mode, going about your daily routine in your hometown.
When I arrived in Spain last year, I hadn’t slept in about 22 hours. Jet lagged and completely burnt out, I wandered the streets of Madrid at 10am with a couple of my classmates. I felt like I was in a dream. I couldn’t believe that there was this entire culture and place that I had never been to and barely knew anything about. And the most exciting thing is, there are a lot more places like that in this world.