To Travel


Zoe Vande Kieft ’18

It is three in the morning and I have just arrived in a country I have never been to before. I am surrounded by people with strange accents and wild clothes. Blurting through the loud intercom, waking the sleepy jetlagged passengers, the pilot announces, “Good morning passengers. Welcome to Buenos Aires, Argentina! The time is three o’ two am. You may grab your carry-on luggage and exit through the gate.” This wakes me right up. Am I really in Buenos Aires? My mind is swirling like the lines of the woman’s skirt next to me. I stand up quickly and snatch my bag from the overhead compartment. I race down the jetbridge and enter the immense wonder of the Buenos Aires Airport. I used to think that all airports were the same, but this one could not have been more outlandish. I am not in an airport; I am in a palace. My heart is dancing to the rhythm of the Latin music that is playing just scarcely enough for me to hear over the millions of people around me. I jolt back to reality when a small, warm hand grabs my arm. Just as expected: my sister. We look at each other both feeling the same way- this trip is going to be one of a lifetime.


My sister and I have not traveled much outside of the United States. We could not tell you what it is like in Japan, or Australia, or Russia. My brother could say the same for himself. There is a huge difference between him and us, though. We WANT to travel. We wish to go to insane places, learn different customs, eat peculiar foods and see unbelievable sights. We wish to learn and live from our learning. My brother will never live life truly to it’s potential if he does not care to travel. Traveling is a beneficial thing not only for your knowledge of the world, but for the well-being of your soul.

When I meet someone, the first thing I see is their appearance. There are no two people in this world who are exactly the same. There are countless races around the world. Different races from contrasting parts of the world are going to have customs of their own. The customs these people practice and the way they live their life is guaranteed to differ from the way we live life in America. The people who stayed locked in one place forever are the troubled ones. How dispiriting is life if you live it the simple way you’ve grown up to know it? You could be missing out on everything you have wanted to make you happy. The food you have been eating is mediocre. The people you are around are mediocre. The jobs you work and the scenery you see every day is mediocre! Someone could go their whole life living this way, but the second they venture outside their comfort zone and see what they really like they will understand that being around people who do not look or act like you teaches you that there is something out there that you could have been enjoying all this time.

Some may say the people who have figured it out are the ones that have a good job with a steady income, kids, and a big house. Some would say that this is the key to happiness. All I have to say about them is that they have never traveled. They don’t how little they are in this world and how when we break it down, all of that stuff is meaningless. The people who have it figured out are those who have been everywhere – lost themselves amidst the world in order to find themselves. They have formed relationships with people and unimaginable places. They understand themselves and what it is like to truly, deeply live. The people who say “I hate life” or “life is meaningless” have not ventured away from what they know. Life is a beautiful gift, and we realize this when we go out and feel it.

It is my last night in Argentina with my sister. We are staying in a house that is right in the foothills of the Andes Mountains on the water. Right after dinner, I walk out onto the cool sand of the night to watch the sunset. The moon is so bright I can see everything almost clearly. I lay down next to the fire we made. As I listen to the cracks of the fire and watch the sun set over the Andes on the water, I think to myself, “this is what life is all about.”

Zoe Vande Kieft ’18


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