Traveling is My Life

Ever since I was little, I’ve dreamt of a life where I get to travel the world, seeing far off places and taking in new experiences. I honestly don’t know where this idea came from. I mean, I grew up in a smallish town in Texas and other than road trips (mostly in Texas), my family didn’t travel much. It’s crazy, but I didn’t go on my first plane ride until I was 16…and that was only to Tennessee! But for whatever reason, I felt this constant pull to just go.

After a couple of international trips in college (to England and Germany), I fulfilled a lifelong dream when I picked up and moved to Australia- Sydney to be exact- right after graduating from college. Australia has and will always hold a special place in my heart, and Sydney is such a beautiful, magical place that you can’t help but fall in love with it. I ended up moving back to Texas after my half-a-year adventure living abroad, where I gained a ton of life experience and independence. It was, after all, the first time I lived anywhere but my childhood home.

Teaching in a suburb of Houston was exciting and I had many positive experiences during my time there, yet I always felt like something was missing. It wasn’t a constant feeling, but it came often enough that after 6 years, I finally listened. That pull to just go was back. I answered it by applying to a little school nestled in the Shanghai Zoo, and knowing nothing whatsoever about China, I picked up and moved halfway across the world.

That was in 2010, and here I am in 2019 still living abroad, just in a different country now. While that first year in China was one of the hardest of my life (the culture shock I experienced was no joke), I wouldn’t trade it for anything. This life has afforded me so many opportunities to travel to places I wouldn’t have even imagined as a child, allowed me to meet some of the most interesting and influential people who’ve become my tribe, and stretched me beyond my comfort zone in more ways than I can count.

I tell anyone who will listen that traveling is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. By travel, I don’t mean take a cruise or go to an all-inclusive resort in Mexico. I mean really travel. Experience how other people live, talk to locals, get lost, feel the heartbeat of a city, try new foods you’ve never seen before, and travel alone at least once in your life. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to 5 continents, live on 4, and experience 39 countries and counting. Take it from me, you owe it to yourself. I’ll say it until the day I die, life isn’t meant to be lived in one place.

 

bike2

This is ‘2010 Jen’ showing off my fancy new bike in front of my little school in the zoo in Shanghai…man, those were some good times. But those bootleg jeans…yeah, no! πŸ˜›

14 thoughts on “Traveling is My Life

  1. Stacey Shubitz

    One of the things I love most about March is getting to read all about the travel adventures that international teachers have. I envy what you are able to do by living abroad. I haven’t traveled much in the past decade – except for work – and I really miss it. One day that will change. Until then, I will live vicariously through you!

    Reply
    1. aggiekesler Post author

      This lifestyle is definitely the best thing I could have ever done for myself. I highly encourage any and everyone to do it, too. You can live vicariously through me, too. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  2. Sara T.

    I am beyond jealous of your lifestyle, your bravery, and the ability to just pick up and leave. I traveled abroad in college and a few times after, but right now I feel like I am a bit stuck when it comes to having a great job and little ones to care for. I am hoping when my girls are a little bit older I can start taking them on international adventures with me. I am totally with you on experiencing a culture by living there. No resort in Cancun compares to living in Italy. Whenever I travel I try to avoid the touristy hotspots. I want to feel what it’s like to actually live there, not visit there.

    Reply
    1. aggiekesler Post author

      I know how you might feel stuck, but so many people with young children do it, too. I think raising kids abroad provides them with such rich experiences that will last them a lifetime. Don’t give up on the dream…you can do it even with kids! Tourist traps are the worst. Glad you avoid them. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  3. Terje

    For some the first time abroad inspires a life long traveling life style. My international colleagues say that they can’t even imagine returning home and staying put.

    Reply
  4. wordjourneysite

    I’m so glad you filled us in on how you came to be living abroad.
    Fran McCrackin wrote that “Mark Twain said that travel is fatal to prejudice” in one of her slices. How true that is.

    Reply
    1. aggiekesler Post author

      It’s definitely not for everyone, but I always encourage others to go and explore the world! You’ll learn so much about yourself when you do.

      Reply
  5. karpenglish

    You are amazing with all of your adventures. Not everyone is willing to hear and listen to the little “just go” voice. I really want to know more about your first teaching job abroad in the Shanghai Zoo. When people say “little school” to me, Zoo is not the next word that comes to mind.

    Reply

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