[Campus commentary]Enriched by travelMore than ever, Korean students are spending their holidays overseas nowadays. Like many others, I also enjoy being abroad during the holidays.
Last year and this year, I explored different parts of Asia. At one time, in Vietnam, a German friend and I rented motorbikes in Ho Chi Minh City and toured the whole country for two weeks.
On the way to the north, sometimes we would go to small regional markets where local people had never seen tourists before. There, we learned something about the real lives of the Vietnamese. We tried to show them how much we appreciated the beautiful scenery in their country. That extraordinary experience still has a big influence in my life.
Travel connects people, enabling vast international human networks to form. I enjoyed being abroad with those who also love the idea of traveling. When I travel, I usually do not try to advertise the fact that I am a foreigner far from home, though it would be obvious from my appearance. I like to listen and talk to different people from all walks of life and learn how diverse our world is. These experiences also made me become more modest and gave me the courage to be different.
Some locals invited me to their homes and introduced me to their friends and parents. Some were also travelers. I would meet them and share information about the next destination. Finding another traveler who shares the same interest as your is really helpful when you get lost in an unfamiliar place. It is easy to make friends and keep the connection going until you meet them again later on somewhere in the world. Whenever I become tired of my daily routine in Korea and feel ready to learn something new, I think first about travelling to different parts of the world. I start my travel by first meeting friends who live in the country I am traveling to, because this is a very good and fast way to learn about the new place.
In the beginning of 2005, I stayed at a friend’s house in Argentina. I met the friend in Germany a long time ago. He introduced me to many other friends, and some of them showed me the spectacular Andes Mountains with Inca relics from the past. In 2006, while I was on tour throughout Asia, I visited Malaysia and met the deputy minister of finance, for whom I worked as an interpreter during the 2005 APEC meeting. He and his family gave me a warm welcome and drove me to many places in Kuala Lumpur.
I have met countless numbers of people outside of Korea during my travels, and each of them influenced me and helped me to become who I am now. For me, traveling has become the most effective way to learn about other countries’ history and culture. On top of that, it also helps me to get a better sense of the world and broaden my perspective.
I have traveled to more than 30 countries, and each country gave me a spiritual gift with unforgettable memories. No words could possibly describe my experiences fully, but I am sure that every single country was worth the trip because it taught me immeasurable values. Still thirsty for more knowledge and diverse ideas, I am glad that I have more places left to visit in the world.
*The writer is a dual degree student at the University of Delaware and Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.
by Benjamin Minsuk Kim
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