So I made a realization earlier while reading yet another travel blog post about how much travelling and going to new countries and cultures has changed how the blogger saw the world.
Studying abroad didn’t change my life.
Cue le gasp.
But it’s true. And I know why.
I didn’t have a “normal” childhood. I didn’t realize just how abnormal it was until I was a teenager. After all, one of the perks of being an army brat is being surrounded by children with the exact same life experiences. Yeah, they’ve been other places, but so have you. No one has spent more than a few years anywhere. Everyone is so used to being the new kid, friendships form before you think to exchange names. I started learning a second language when I was five; not because my parents were childhood experts who realized that the earlier you learn new languages the better, but because we were living in a different country.
My world has never been limited to the size of a neighborhood, or even a state.
The closest I’ve ever lived to extended family was when I lived in Georgia and my grandparents lived in Florida.
Twenty-hour drives to visit aunts and uncles in Maryland were the norm after we moved back stateside. Bonus points if you stayed awake the whole time.
I was sixteen before I realized that you didn’t need a passport to fly. And that flights could be less than seven hours long.
I sometimes catch myself referring to “Americans” as if I am not also an American. I’ve always been an American. Though becoming an expat is looking more and more enticing the longer this election cycle from hell goes on.
I notice the subtle differences between cities and states here in the US that get glossed over.
I notice the similarities between small towns in the middle of Missouri and villages in Ireland.
Don’t get me wrong; I still have so much to learn about the world. So much that I’m excited to learn. So much to see, so much to do. But since I’ve had the opportunity to see so much since I was little, I guess I expect to see differences in the people and the culture everywhere I go.
And I can’t wait to see more.