Friday, January 13, 2012


What would you do if you were 26, single, financially independent, and ambitiously curious?  Travel of course!  At least, that's my plan.  On Feb 1st, I'll be embarking on an 8 month journey that will take me through India, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji.  Many have asked if it's an "Eat, Pray, Love" thing, but after watching the movie - I hope not.  I can't say I'm looking to discover the 'meaning of life' or 'find myself' in the back woods of Bali.  Personally, I feel that process is something I should be and will be working on my whole life - wherever I'm at or whatever I'm doing.

No, my only existential purpose for this trip is somewhat random, rather selfish, and perhaps not altogether inspiring.  I'm going for an education and a broader perspective (though I'm sure I'll probably get much more than that).  I want to challenge and expand my view of humanity, both the good and bad.  I want to study the similarities and understand our differences.  I'm incredibly grateful that I was born in the United States, but also admit that growing up here has kept me sheltered and therefore ignorant to many aspects of humanity that I want to understand.  I know it will be hard and perhaps in many ways painful.  Growth almost always is.  But I'm excited for it, and I'm grateful to have the relentless support of wonderful people.  Armed with my faith, their love, and the grace of God - I feel like I'll be able to handle whatever life (and this trip)decides to teach me.

So how did this all start?  Well, oddly enough, it all started with Boston.  About 6 months ago, I was visiting New York with my mom (a long awaited graduation present) and contemplating my next move in life.  Throughout the week, Boston seemed to come up a lot.  Then during a YSA regional meeting, I felt a strangely distinct impression that I should move to Boston.  I had never even visited Boston, nor did I have any clue what I would do there, but I felt a great sense of excitement and peace at the prospect, and upon telling my mom my seemingly random impression, her response was "Yeah, that sounds about right."  Whelp, that was all I needed.  I was moving to Boston.

After my trip, and perhaps in an effort to try and make sense of the things, I started looking into what Boston might have to offer.  Education was a biggie, and since I had already thought about going back to school to become a professor, this culminated into researching PhD programs offered in the area.  Public Health had long been a thought in the back of my  mind because it seemed to fit my science background with my love of people, health, and policy..  Because Public Health covers such a broad spectrum of possibilities,  I started looking into public health volunteering so that I could get an idea of what track of Public Health would suit me.  This lead to me joining HELP International as a public health volunteer in Fiji.  I had been feeling for a while  I should volunteer abroad, and this gave me the perfect opportunity to do that AND gain some much needed experience in the field.  It all seemed so serendipitously practical! 

Then I started planning the trip...and before long, a 4 month trip to Fiji turned into an 8 month tour of South Asia and the South Pacific.

How that all came about is just complicated and not really worth explaining.  But what it resulted in is a month and a half in India being trained as a yoga instructor, a month and a half in Thailand being trained as a masseuse, a week in both Sydney and New Zealand, then the 4 months in Fiji, and topped off with me moving to Boston to start a PhD in Public Health Nutrition.  *gulp* 

Well, "go big or go home" - that was something Tiffany (my former roommate) and I would say when we'd travel together.  It seems applicable here.  I'm a little anxious about trying to get everything in order for the trip, but I still feel pretty good about what I'll be doing, and strangely, not really nervous at all.  It just feels like the right thing to do and the right time to do it.  So here I go...