2 whole years, guys. 2 WHOLE FREAKIN’ YEARS! Seriously, what the heck? I’ve never stuck with anything that long. Not sure what that says about me, but HEY, here’s to 2 years! Sushiyama Travels may be changing directions, constantly growing and evolving, but disappearing, I think not for a long time. (Read my 1 year travelversary post here!)
On a personal level, 2013 was a year of finding my footing, honing in on what’s important to me, realizing what is required to take care of myself, practicing self-diligence, filtering out the clutter, and strengthening relationships with the people around me. In the latter half of the year, my primary focus has been stepping back from frequent online activity, because consequently, when I spend too much time on the internet, I find myself reverting back to old habits and mindsets. Slowly, I am replacing blogs with books (great exercise for my imagination) and social media updates with face-to-face conversations. Now that I’ve been home for a little while, my reverse culture shock has worn off, and through various international media and entertainment outlets, I am constantly working to destroy remaining barriers, prejudices, and judgements I hold and filter the kinds of thoughts that take residence in my mind.
Sushiyama Travel’s Message
Through action and example, I want to encourage you to travel even if its just to the next town over for a change of scenery. However, I know traveling isn’t for everyone, as least not the way I’m used to where I feel the need to include 3-4 countries in one trip or travel weeks or months at a time. At the foundation, my message to you is never stop learning, never turn down an opportunity to grow and see/experience something in a new way. Whether that means reading a book, changing careers, making a new friend at school, speaking at an event, eating different foods, etc. Every moment is a chance to learn something new. Keep the mind sharp, don’t let your creativity go stale.
In other words, to put to rest the battle between college or travel, both provide a very different but beneficial kind of education. Traveling just happens to be the type I’m most passionate about. There’s no rule that says you have to choose between one or the other. If you’re wiling to work hard, you can do both. I did!
Top 10 Highlights of 2013
- Mom beating her second battle against breast cancer
- Fully understanding that I am not well-suited for an office job
- Traveling to China, Ireland, and Italy for the first time
- Visiting Japan during sakura season and pursuing the Japanese language
- Reuniting with two of my best friends in Marquette and New Mexico
- Meeting up with friends I met on my travels in 2012
- Finally traveling to Australia after 2 failed attempts
- Losing everything on SYT and the birth of SYT 2.0
- Taking the Japanese Language Proficiency Test
- Working part-time at a Japanese grocery store
How Travel Has Shifted the Way I Think & 4 Lessons Learned
- Less is more. Make bold statements with minimalism.
- Things won’t always go the way I planned.
- The only person I am in competition with is myself.
- The truth can be revealed but not explained.
How has travel shifted the way I think? Let me count the ways. First of all, now, I see the world without borders and the human race on a level playing field. We are all one but raised in different corners with unique opinions, ideas, perspectives, things to teach others, and talents. No longer do I think one person to be better than another. Intelligence and beauty among other things come in many different forms. When I interact with others, I make a conscious effort to replace my sarcastic disposition with sincerity and often listen more than speak. Furthermore, I am able to see past these walls that separate countries, neighborhoods, and mindsets. With that comes the understanding of how easy it is to hop on a plane and go somewhere completely different and ease of empathizing with people who live on the other side of the Earth.
My curiosity constantly takes off in new directions, shaping and evolving the way I travel. For the time being, I’ve left guidebooks behind and almost solely rely on travel blogs and my network of friends around the world for information. When I imagine booking a flight, I pay close attention to where my mind wanders in terms of what I’d like to do. Though it can be hard to create an itinerary until I’m in the country, my baseline interests have narrowed to cooking classes, hiking/nature, and attending local events. A common fatigue from all of my trips this year was the pace of the big cities. I’m beginning to feel less fulfilled by metropolitan atmospheres, and quite frankly, cityscapes are all starting to look the same. My senses now point to the suburbs and rural areas, far away from lively civilization where I can rely more on using my own two feet to explore, seek out volunteer opportunities, learn what life is like outside the urban centers, and have a greater chance finding fresher, locally produced foods.
My personal mission through traveling is to make every corner of the world a little slice of home. Even in the places that don’t completely resonate with me (i.e. Beijing or Moscow), I can usually find something familiar and comfortable that makes me feel at home. With arms wide open, I welcome the obstacles that traveling presents such as language barriers, food poisoning, cultural misunderstandings, etc. No matter how miserable or hilarious I may feel in the moment, those raw emotions and challenges don’t necessarily surface with the routine that I have now. When I am not traveling, I feel like I’m skipping class, missing out on an incredible learning experience. There’s always an element of restlessness present when I’m not moving around, but I’m thankful for that because it keeps me hungry.
In Numbers: 8 countries and 26 cities visited, 21 different airplanes
Favorite Place Visited: Australia
Favorite Guest Post: An Inside Look at the Turkish Resistance with Gokcen Tuncer
Favorite Post Written By Me: The 3 Best Scenarios for Getting to Know People
Favorite Post Written for Someone Else: Quitting My Job to Travel the World Solo (via The Wherever Writer)
What’s In Store for 2014?
The framework is in place for traveling new destinations and doing amazing things, but the details are still blurry. My ultimate goal is to explore more of Canada. I’d also like to give China a second chance, go to Cuba, visit South America for the first time, and perhaps take an expedition down to Antarctica. As always, as new details unfold, you’ll be the first to know.
Recent Favorite Reads
- Spiritual Boot Camp (via Fearful Adventurer) <–Also on my list for 2014
- Contiki Thailand Video (via Seattle’s Travels)
- How Travel Taught Me the Importance of Home (via Vagabondish)
- 34 Reasons Australia Is The Most Beautiful Place On Earth (via BuzzFeed)
- 21 Cozy Photos from Tokyo’s Hidden Bars (via BuzzFeed)
- The 25 Most Reblogged Places of 2013 (via BuzzFeed)
- 50 Reasons Why Tokyo is the Greatest City in the World (via TimeOut Tokyo)
- We’re Married! Sort of… (via GQ Trippin)
- Wanderers in Residence Select Top 14 Destinations for 2014 (via G Adventures)