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  Open Letter to...

Potential Semester at Sea students and others who are
interested in a world beyond the country they live in,

            If you are considering traveling the world, I say “GO FOR IT!”  In the past 100 days, I believe I have learned more than I have the past couple years of my life.  Not only about the world but through learning about the world I came to learn about myself and my world view.  By seeing others in different countries and in the shipboard community, I came to see myself in a clearer light.  A very wise person said, “Getting to know another culture is to look in the proverbial mirror and get a glimpse of oneself.”  I have learned that to be true.

            One thing I have learned about the world is that we are all so very similar!  Talking to people as we traveled the world, Japanese, Chinese, Indians, Burmese, Egyptians, Croatians, etc, I discovered that despite the difference in our religions, languages, histories and heritages, we are in fact striving towards very similar goals.  As human beings, we all seek happiness, stability and love!  It was just that the nitty gritty details of life are pitting us against each other at times… 

            Many of my peers in this class have written about traveling and the enriching experiences that came with it.  They can probably say it better than I can; go read their open letters.  As for myself, I would just like to say: if you’re thinking about it, go travel.  It doesn’t matter where, go anywhere outside of your “bubble.”  And when you do, do not limit yourself.  Push yourself, let go of your fears, let yourself be loved by the people you meet and return that love to them.  Talk to them, learn from them, you don’t have to agree with them, but respect them.  They will respect you for it.  Don’t stick with the four star or five star hotels.  Go for the hostels.  Don’t just eat at fancy restaurants.  Go for the street vendors (but of course travelers’ diarrhea is always a risk… use common sense.).  Don’t stand in the sidelines; play with the children in their games.  Walk around, look around, all the while keep your mind and heart open.  Be flexible, the random things that happen are the most fun and memorable.  Be aware of your surroundings but don’t be suspicious.  Immerse yourself in where you are.  Remember those who touched your heart and those whose hearts you touched.  And prepare to be changed, in ways you never thought possible.

Cheers to a better world,

Caroline Park

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