As young adults, we are so often challenged to find our identity or question what we have always placed our identity in, and, as I am staring down the one-week mark before my departure to Ghana for my summer study abroad program, I feel once again challenged to reckon with my identity. This reckoning comes at the crux of realizing that for so long I had placed my identity in traveling. I was the adventurous one, who was constantly traveling to new countries and embracing new experiences with arms wide open. In my early twenties, my career during the first few years out of college was focused on leading short-term international trips. However, as much as all of this travel filled my soul immensely, it was also draining, and I was not equipped to process each new experience at the rate with which they were thrown at me. As my mid-twenties approached, I knew it was time to take a break from consistent international travel and settle down stateside.

In the process of preparing for this upcoming international trip, it has become glaringly clear that this pause was much longer than expected. Upon seeing that certain vaccinations had expired or that my go-to travel kits were deemed worthless, filled with expired medications and dried out products, I realized that it had been over three years since I had traveled outside the United States. This came as a shock to me, but it forced me to really reevaluate my identity that I had for so long placed in traveling. During my three years stateside, I have worked as a case manager at a refugee resettlement agency in Birmingham, AL. Through working alongside my clients from countries all over the world, I have been exposed to new cultures and experiences almost daily. I believe this is why it was so shocking to realize that I had not left the United States in over three years, as I was constantly experiencing new cultures.

Reflecting on this has clarified to me that my heart did not solely crave the travel but rather mainly the immersion into new cultures, which I have still had the ability to do over the past few years. Travel, especially international travel, is an immense privilege, but it is not the only way to see and experience new cultures. As I prepare to depart next week for my first international trip in three years, I hope to keep in mind what I truly desire when exploring new places and to remember what a privilege it is to be going on this trip.