The Campus Journal met a 23-year-old student, Kim Hye-ri majoring in International Relations who traveled through 15 countries for 130 days starting in Russia, Europe, Northern Africa, and on to South America all on her own. Surprisingly, she could afford all the expenses during the trip after working a part time job for eight months. Let’s get right into her amazing story!
Q : What made you decide to travel after 1 year’s leave of absence. I guess it wasn’t easy to make that decision.
Kim : It was kind of a coincidence that I saw the Uyuni desert in South America on SNS and I thought, “Oh, it would be awesome to be there.” I got to work for an English institution when I was in my 2nd year. I could gradually save some money and I think the timing was very good. It was very natural for me to think of travelling. And then I felt it is too bad to look around only one continent.
Q : How did you prepare for your trip? It is evident that you needed a lot of preparation.
Kim : I saw someone on SNS who traveled for five months with 10 million won and it gave me a little bit of a clue. I could earn 13 million won in 8 months after leave of absence and after that I just left. I didn’t actually schedule the entire itinerary. I had only decided on my accommodation and routes for the first country in advance; the next day was just up to me and extemporary research, as well as recommendations from other travelers. This is what made my days in foreign countries more special because I didn’t want to be stressed out having to be always on time, because if I ever think of travelling as too special and end up feeling places are underwhelming, I wouldn’t be able to endure anymore nor be willing to go back to Korea. This is the reason why I took it day by day.
|▲ “Camel is my friend!”-Sahara desert in Morocco|
Q : Among the 15 countries, which was the most memorable country or city?
Kim : It was definitely Dahab in Egypt. I spent a month in Egypt. One of the biggest reasons was that I could enjoy skin-diving for a low cost and get my license after a week of education. It was an unusual experience for me. Also, I met numerous travelers there and heard a lot about them.
Actually, the real reason that I chose Dahab is this: I was honestly embarrassed that even though the 3rd year of university is very important, I stopped studying and decided to travel. But I soon realized that a year was not so long like I had worried it was. There was a couple on a honeymoon for a year and they said they also had to prepare to get a job when they returned to Korea. I started to think how I have numerous chances, so I became ok. In addition, there were a lot of people who took care of me when I wasn’t feeling good or was injured. They became like my second family. I was lucky to meet those kinds of friends there. I didn't know there were so many colors in happiness. If the color of happiness that I've known for 22 years was only red and orange, then the rainbow would have been perfect in Dahab. It’s the most meaningful place for me because it is a place that is attractive in and of itself, but has become a source of relief after much hasty thinking.
Q : What major changes would you make after your trip?
Kim : I attended school for two years before traveling; I wasn't very interested in my studies and my self-esteem was low. When I was at school, I was swept away by my friends, the lunch menu, and spending time after school. Since my experience traveling alone, from the moment I left, I have had to make all decisions on my own, so I started thinking about myself a lot, and I started thinking about things I could do on my own. Naturally, I became independent and I started feeling very proud of myself. Now, I am so shameless that I can haggle for 3 oranges. Haha!
|▲ Hye-ri became very active and positive –Torres del Paine National Park in Chile|
Q : Didn’t you have any difficulties during your trip?
Kim : While traveling, it never felt difficult or dangerous except when I got sick after suffering from altitude sickness. I had a lot of expectations about Russia, which was just my first destination, but other than the fact that the country and people seemed so stiff and cold that I felt a little bit disappointed. Of course, during the trip, I thought that it was hard to adapt to different cultures, languages, and hygiene. But as time went by they were all precious memories.
Q : What’s your future plan or dream?
Kim : I've heard so many questions like, “Did you feel a lot during your trip?” and “Do you have a dream or career?” To be honest, I haven’t made up my mind yet, but the thing that I think was the biggest benefit I've had since I made my trip is this: my major is International Relations and I am learning about politics, culture, and issues of many countries around the world. I haven't decided my career path, but if I become more interested in my major and continue studying hard, I think I can decide what I want to do.
Q : Would you like to say anything to those who want to travel around the world but are hesitant, or have concerns about doing it?
Kim : If you're concerned about traveling because of communication problems or the fact that you're a year behind other people, never hesitate. Leave. There are so many countries and so many people in the world. Many people say that your real friends are the ones who have known you for a long time, but I became skeptical of that idea when I traveled. That’s because I've made friends who are so compatible that I would go so far as to call them my ‘life friends’ after exchanging our life stories, and I still keep in touch with them. I think I took my first trip to think deeply about myself. If you want to travel, don't miss out on it. It will be a great opportunity to change something that we wouldn’t even have expected.
|▲ Hye-ri’s motivation for her trip – the Uyuni Salt Flat|
By Gwon Min-gwan, reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
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