I was eight when I moved to Japan with my family. It was the first time I had traveled outside of the United States and my mind was blown! I didn’t realize that people could live a totally different way than Americans!

Their food and their language was a new concept to me. I learned that the foundations of their culture was based on giving respect to everyone and everything. In Japan, I could lose my cell phone while out and about, and I wouldn’t panic, because I knew that if my lost items fell into the hands of a Japanese person, they would likely be return it to me, intact. I realize that if Japan was this different from the U.S., then other countries must be too! From that point on I knew that I wanted to travel the world and see new places, and meet new people.

By the time I reached college, I had visited Canada, and lived in South Korea. Having visited 3 countries at this point, gave me a better view of people and the world in general. I became more and more comfortable interacting with people from different cultures and I was able to really grasp world events and things that I probably wouldn’t have known, being stuck in my neighborhood.

Three countries weren’t enough! I wanted more of travel and the unknown, except this time I wanted to do it while studying a topic of interest. I signed up for a 2-week mini-mester abroad to Turkey to study international marketing. If you can imagine, I had never heard of Turkey and I didn’t even know where the country was on the map! I educated myself, though, which is something that’s so easy to do now days. I even decided to study a little of the language (on Youtube) before I departed to Turkey! (Hey, whatever means, right?) My goal was to do as much research on the culture as I possibly could. I didn’t want to show up thinking they should cater to me, my language and preferences. That’s what traveling does — creates an open mind, to other cultures. And it paid off! When I landed in Turkey I knew that I had made the right decision. The Turkish people’s eyes would light up whenever I tried to speak to them in their language. I was offered lots of gifts, invited into family homes, and, oddly enough, I was treated like a celebrity! (I’ll take it!)

Everywhere I went, there would be teenagers who wanted to take pictures with me, older ladies would tell me how pretty I was, and every time I lifted my camera, our bus driver would stop dead in the middle of chaotic traffic just so that I could take a picture! While studying, I was able to learn and identify the differences in how commerce and business is conducting in Turkey, how they market products and promote ideas, compared to America. I visited the Turkish parliament, the Istanbul stock exchange and some of Turkey’s top marketing companies.  I learned so much in such a short amount of time! It was the best investment I had made in myself at that time!

In 2015, I decided to take a 3-week vacation with my sister and best friend to Italy. I had heard a lot of good things about Italy and I knew that it was a beautiful country from the pictures on the internet. We started in up north and traveled south, every other day. By the time I reached Rome, I was trying to figure out how I can move to this beautiful country! The architecture, breathtaking.  The language was different from other languages that I taught myself. It sounded almost like the Italians were singing instead of speaking. The food was so fresh and delicious. It’s not uncommon to feel like a stranger, but be greeted by Italians like long, lost friends! All I knew is that I felt as if I belonged. By the time I visited Italy for the first time, I had already visited six countries. Now, I had a rule: No visiting the same country twice since there tons of other countries to see! However, Italy was the exception to that rule. Between 2015 and now, I’ve spent about seven months in Italy! I’ve visited Italy more than any other country and I have no regrets! 

I want as many people as possible to visit Italy and experience the country I fell in love with. I am extremely excited to show Italy to the young ladies of GIRLGO!