Posted by: Emily Schmutz Garcia | January 6, 2010

Look out world, here I come!

Creative Commons photo by hogeasdf

My name is Emily Schmutz and I am a travel-holic. It started in the womb–literally. My mom went to Hawaii when she was pregnant with me. Since then, I have been back to Hawaii, down to Mexico, up to Canada, across the US, over to Western Europe and even to Japan. I think the most difficult part is trying to decide where to start.

I think I’ll start with Japan. In 5th grade, my sister went with the school district on a ten-day exchange trip to Japan. I was nervous about my older sister flying so far away, and I was worried about the future–when I would have the opportunity to go on the exchange program.

I am, what some would call, attached–possibly overly attached–to my family. I always preferred to have my friends spend the night at my house, because I would get homesick, even just for sleepovers. The thought of traveling over 2,000 miles away, for ten days apart from my family, scared me.

My best friend, Alicia Shelly, and I were playing at her house; we were talking about my sister’s upcoming trip. Alicia was smarter than I was. When I confessed to her that I wasn’t sure I would go to Japan because I would get so homesick, she turned to me and said, “You would really let fear stop you from going on such a cool trip?” That simple question really changed my life. Of course I wouldn’t let fear rob me of a trip of a lifetime.

When I was 13, the summer after my eighth grade year, I went on an exchange trip to Japan. It was amazing and so beautiful. The family I stayed with had three daughters. We listened to Hanson’s “Umm Bop,” and Notorious B.I.G.’s “I’ll be missing you.” We went to a water park, a few Buddhist temples and Mt. Fuji. It was so green, clean and gorgeous. I was afraid to go, but I simply decided that there was something more important than fear.

Since that trip, I have gone on many travels. They have all been amazing. I was blessed with a smart friend and a great family, and I really think that those trips were possible because of that first trip to Japan. That first step of independence helped me to realize that anything was possible. I returned home from an amazing trip to Japan with a new attitude. “Look out world, here I come!”

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