Meet Traveling Sam Kay

9:46 AM

(I want to introduce you all to Sam of Traveling Sam Kay.  I met this woman last year in Korea and knew she was an awesome person, but only recently found out about her amazing blogging skills. She writes about her time as a teacher in South Korea and is sharing her travel experience here. Enjoy! - Tara)





When I was a little girl, I remember very specifically asking my mother why we lived in the United States. My parents had friends who lived overseas. These people enchanted me with gifts from afar and stories of things I couldn't imagine existed. But, I guess I didn't know much existed outside of my home city. I was obsessed with the prospect of adventures abroad. I would make elaborate plans for my future and all of the places I would travel, always receiving an endearing eyeroll and words of encouragement from my parents. Travel became a goal of mine. And I knew that if I was going to do it, it would have to be on my own. So, when I was 17, I found a way.

When I was 17, I made the declaration to my parents that the following summer, I would be going abroad. They sighed in a sort of "yeah, right" way, but told me that if I could find a way to do it, I should. And so, as a motivated person does, I did. I found a volunteer group that would take me to Hong Kong. At age 18, I went half way across the world with a group of strangers, and I fell in love.





My goal then shifted from simply travel to living abroad. I wanted to make a life for myself in a place I didn't belong. Walking the streets of Hong Kong, feeling completely engulfed in a new culture was a sensation I was willing to chase as far as it would take me. I ventured on to college and began life studying International Politics. I made mental lists of all the places I wanted to live. My goals became greater and more solidified, and my lust for adventure only grew.

Of course, I studied abroad. In my opinion, every person should. Due to various circumstances, I was led to Ulsan University's Ulsan International Program. In the summer of 2014, when I  got on that plane to South Korea, I had no clue what I was getting myself into. I didn't know anything about Korean culture or language. I hadn't heard of the city of Ulsan. But more than anything, I completely underestimated how that experience would change my life. 

I can confidently say that the time I spent in the Ulsan International Program is one of the best times of my life. I spent the summer traveling around Korea with a group of equally as curious people, having adventures so crazy and experiences so growing that my life was deeply impacted. 
That's the thing about travel, though. It can be expensive or scary or overwhelming. But the reward that comes from that risk is greater than anything a person can buy. Those memories and the impact made in your life, and the impact that you can make in the lives of others, is something that can never be taken away from you.

Dancing on the street with a random Chinese lady in Kowloon. Busking in a park in Macau on a Sunday morning. Staying out all night in Itaewon. I often think of the millions of memories I've made on the adventures I've had and my heart feels incredibly full. 


I am now 22, and my dream has come true. I am an English teacher in Ulsan, South Korea. The process to get here wasn't easy, but it was absolutely worth it. Everyday is an adventure for me. Even if all I do is go to work, go to the grocery store, and go home in a day, I have still had an amazing and growing cultural experience. It's not perfect. Being away from home is hard. But just as they did when I was a young girl, my family is supportive of my goals and proud that I have already achieved so much.

I often walk around my neighborhood, and bask is amazement at where I am. The risks have been immense, but the reward has been greater. Because the thing I am given everyday is something I will treasure the rest of my life. The adventure that I am on is great, and I cannot wait to see where it takes me next. 

Sam graduated from Northwest Missouri State University with a degree in Political Science and International studies, is now a Guest English Teacher with the EPIK program in Ulsan, South Korea. You can read more about Sam and her adventures abroad on her blog Travelling Sam Kay.


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