About Me

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Hello, Ciao,안녕하세요, Hallo, Hola, Selamat tengahari! My name is Rachael and I am a travel enthusiast. Ever since I can remember, my parents have taken my brother, sister and I on good ol' American road trips. It's safe to say that was where my interest in new places, people and experiences was ignited. As my parents always encouraged my siblings and I to explore and ask questions, I developed a sincere curiosity for new adventures. In addition to seeing much of the United States with my favorite travel companions (my family), I had the opportunity to spend a semester in Rome, Italy, as well as a semester in Seoul, South Korea during my college career. Now, I am honored to be taking part in a Fulbright ETA Scholarship to Malaysia for a year! My family's favorite motto is "Life is all about the journey, not the destination." I invite you to join along in my journey of cultural exchange and mutual understanding in Malaysia! After all, the more, the merrier.

Friday, February 1, 2013

A New Lens

Kapas Island, Terengganu, Malaysia.
For most people, the most rewarding aspect of an adventure is the adventure itself. The experience of summiting a mountain or taking a road trip across country or living within a new culture for a year.  However, having returned to the United States after eleven months abroad, I have come to a new realization.

Perhaps the most rewarding part of an adventure is the aftermath; when the traveler gains a new lens towards the way she sees and experiences the world.

My time as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Malaysia was the most eye-opening and challenging experience of my life. My daily life in America was replaced with a new culture, routine and community. 

There were good days and there were bad days. There were moments when I felt as though I failed and moments when I felt as though my students, my community and I succeeded. There were times when I was homesick for the comfort of my own home, the Midwest climate and a big American dinner. And there were times when I looked out over the South China Sea and thought, “Wow! I get to live here!”

Now, back in America, I often look back on my experience and reflect. As I adjust back to my own identity, I feel as though I am looking at the world around me differently and with a new understanding.

I sit in church on Sunday mornings and admire the glare from the sun that beams through the massive stain glass window. I hug my family and friends a bit tighter. I speak and react with more patience. I drive my car through the suburbs understanding what a privilege it is to sit behind a wheel. I admire the Chicago skyline that extends across the shore of Lake Michigan. I savor each bite. And, I look back on my photos from Malaysia with a humbled smile. In a way, I feel as though everything that has always been part of my life still remains, but I see it with a new lens. The adventure itself is a true gift, but perhaps the most rewarding part of any undertaking, is the new lens gained afterward.

O'hare International Airport, Chicago before I departed in January 2012.
I was reunited with my family at O'hare eleven months later.
I came home with a new lens towards life and the world around me.

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