When I travel, I get inspired to write. Being confronted with different ideas, cultures, and people opens my mind and allows thoughts to enter that never would have if I had kept the door closed.
But then I realized, you don't have to travel to get inspired in this way. All you need is a door stop on the entrance of your mind to keep it open and a constant awareness of what is different, and how you can learn from it.
Just in our University, there are plenty of opportunities to learn about another culture. Last semester I befriended an exchange student from South Korea. Through the semester I'd like to think I taught him about the ways of American life, but somehow I feel I got the better end of the deal. I learned so much about a place I couldn't even point out on a map 6 months ago.Through him I learned I could have turned 21 a whole 7 months earlier and celebrated two Valentines Days in one year.
In Korea you are born 1 years old, and birthday does not dictate how old you are. If you are born in the year 1989.... you are 21 years old for the entire year of 2010. On New Years day of 2011, you turn 22.
As for Valentines Day... Koreans, not living in a Christian based country, celebrate the holiday very differently. Instead of religious, Christmas is celebrated as a day to spend with your significant other.
(Taking Ram and friends hiking in Gatlinburg)
There are so many opportunities to learn something new about another culture on this campus, and the International House is one very easy way to get involved. Their facebook page is a convient way to find out what events are going on. Every week they have cultural events which are hosted by international students. They also have a program called, "The Friendship Program" in which you are paired with a foreign exchange student for the semester to be their American guide and their new friend. A group of my sorority sisters decided to join the program together this semester.
Through these discoveries this past year in college, I realized I have been a bit bias in my blog. How can I write about traveling and learning how differences can be inspiring, if I cannot find those differences and inspiring moments in my own hometown?
I get inspired everyday by people I have known for years, talked to for only a few minutes, or maybe have never even met. So I thought it was about time I start sharing my experiences.
After all, what is our home of Tennessee but a foreign adventure for everyone else in the world.
So, friends... start exploring.