Thanks, Mom and Dad

Thanks, Mom and Dad

I left the country for the first time this past May. I was mentally prepared to encounter the infamous culture shock I had heard so much about and when I stepped onto the Jose Marti tarmac just outside of Havana, I expected the worst. 

But I found I was able to quickly and easily adjust to my new surroundings. Alligator and turtle for lunch and dinner? Fine by me. Alligator and turtle for lunch and dinner three days in a row? I can work with that. No phone or wifi? Sí, por favor y muchas gracias.

I reveled in every new experience and asked for more.

As I watched most of the other students, and even a few of the faculty members, struggle with the differences of Cuba, I began to wonder why I felt so at home in a foreign place. This wasn’t supposed to happen.

I encountered the same sensation when I traveled to Mauritius a few weeks later in June. I readily adjusted to the island’s culture, this one even more different than the last. I greeted the Creole, curries, and fields of sugar cane with eager, open arms. But why? Or better yet, how?

The only reason I have come up with points to how I was raised. 

I was born into a family who was not about to stop exploring on my account. 

My first camping trip involved three month-old Paige and snow; at four months-old, my parents were canoeing me through the swamps at Juniper Springs. My first time rafting came the following summer when I was 18 months-old and I have been hiking since before I can remember.

I realized that I have been travelling since birth. Just because I hadn’t left the country, it does not mean that the experience was not valuable. I have been introduced to new people, lands, and realities from the beginning and it impacted me more than I ever imagined.

As a member of AIESEC, I know it may seem counterintuitive to say this but where you travel doesn’t matter that much so long as you do travel- and travel with an open mind, ready and willing to learn what you don’t know or relearn what you thought you knew.

Originally posted January 2016

Paige Anderholm

Paige is a sophomore at Appalachian; she's majoring in Geology and Studies in Global Community Engagement because deciding is hard. She enjoys judging books by their covers, collecting rocks, and taking photographs. She's currently the Vice President of Marketing at AIESEC Appalachian.