By: Jensyn Labadie
Before this last summer I had barely visited any other states outside of Nebraska, let alone gone to another country.
When the opportunity came up for me to spend six weeks in Asia, I was surprisingly drawn to it. Logically, it was a horrible idea; I would somehow have to come up with the money, get over my fear of flying and come to terms with being away from my family for that long. Yet, my heart still said yes.
So I went.
I packed a carry-on size suitcase and hopped on a flight not knowing what to expect when I landed in Cambodia.
Upon arriving there, I realized something about myself. I liked being comfortable. And everything about being in a foreign country was uncomfortable.
My diet had to majorly change as every meal consisted of rice. And even after taking Khmer language lessons, I was constantly met with confused faces a lot of the times I tried to communicate with people; I breathed a sigh of relief each time I was able to find someone who spoke even some English.
But being intertwined into a new culture was captivating. The new sights, smells and sounds were intriguing and while I definitely had sensory overload, it was excitingly different.
I learned what it was like to live more simply. Most people in Cambodia live on just $3 a day. While I loved how inexpensive everything was, I quickly realized how hard it would be to make a living there and be able to support myself and eventually a family. Additionally, I saw how important relationships were to the Cambodian people. They liked asking questions, and also being known. It really opened my eyes to how much we lack relationships in America.
I also realized how things that seem to be a big deal to us in America, meant so little in the grand scheme of things. The people of Cambodia didn’t care about their social status or the trendy new show on TV, yet, they were happier than a lot of Americans I have ever come in contact with.
While every day was an adjustment and I longed to be back home in America constantly, I was inspired by the people I met and in awe of the beauty of a country so different from my own.
My point is, don’t get too comfortable. Get out and experience the world. Experience things you never thought you could, but might not otherwise be able to. If I hadn’t taken that leap of faith and decided to go overseas, I wouldn’t have learned so much about another culture and myself.