Saturday, June 30, 2012

This is my Story


This is my story. The story of a small town girl with big-time dreams and a deadly (contagious) case of Wanderlust. I'm seeking life's most important question: what I want to do with the rest of my life and how to get there, while chasing samurai and wearing French berets, all the while differentiating between foreigner, gaijin, and Étranger...

When I first wrote this caption, I was 14 years old. I did not know I would be living in Japan. In fact, the word gaijin was a different word, whatever the Afrikaans word for foreigner was. As you may recall, I was promised a placement in South Africa for my first exchange. Then 5 months prior to departure, someone called me to congratulate me on my acceptance to East Asian nation of Japan. I never quite found what happened.

Clearly, time went on.

My year in Japan flew by, I returned to graduate high school and flounder with the idea of going to college. This resulted in another youth exchange abroad to another country. The word I added after foreigner and gaijin was initially the Spanish word for foreigner. I was going to Argentina; at least this was what I was promised. Needless to say, like South Africa becoming Japan, Argentina became France. I have many ideas and theories to explain why other people successfully chose my country for me. All I know is that what makes our fate is often not part of our control.

I am 21 now. I wrote that passage above 7 years ago. A third of my life ago. Every time I come on this blog, I read it over and over again. To me, it seems flawless, the true tale of my life summarized in the words of a little girl. But the more I read it, the more I wonder if I should change the words somehow.

I guess, technically, I am not a girl anymore. But I still think like a girl, and look like one according to most people. I still dream vividly about faraway places, and hope and pray I will get the chance to see them. You might be able to argue that I am not really seeking life’s most important question anymore. I know who I am. Sure, I do not really know where I am going, but I have the right idea. I still have another 10 to 20 more years of being a travel bum. At least that is part of the plan now. Who knows after that?

So what am I doing for the rest of my life?

In approximately 10 months, I will graduate form Clemson University with a Bachelors of Science degree in Secondary Education (History.) I am pleased with my decision to pursue education. I love teaching and I was born to be an educator, and in true Julie Garner fashion, the decision to enter this major was not really made by me (well, it was, but under unusual circumstances.)

I entered Clemson under the degree program of Language and International Trade with emphasis in Japanese and French. Sometimes I wonder why I did not stick with that program. There are two things that I need to point out: my freshman year of college at Clemson, I joined a sorority. For the first time in my life, I actually felt like I belonged somewhere. I was accepted into a group of girls, friends and sisters, for better or worse. When I was made a sister, I decided to change what I am for this fantastic group of girls, who finally made me feel like I had a purpose in the United States of America. I diligently learned how to wear the right clothes, how to wear make up, and how to impress boys at parties. I began sharing the same dreams as my sisters: a Southern husband, a tailgating spot for Clemson football games for the rest of my life, a big white wedding, a white picket fence and a golden retriever chasing my kids around in the yard. I had spent most of the last years living abroad and living a life deemed by most to be unconventional. Maybe it was time to be conventional.

But all of this was not the only reason I switched majors. Ultimately, I realized my skills, as a person would be better suited to educating children, and not dealing with pompous businessmen.

At the end of my freshman year, when I switched majors; education, which would allow me a conventional normal life seemed to be the best option. I am thankful for the switch now. I can go abroad and teach easily. Although my reasons for switching into the education no longer really apply. I do not mind business and I will never ever lead a conventional life. White picket fences are the scenes of my nightmares, and I no longer feel that I need to a be a different person to be accepted. I have had a change of heart about my sorority. I have a wonderful group of friends that loves me for who I am, conventional or unconventional.

I read the above passage again.

I am still chasing Samurai too. On July 29th or 30th, I will be heading back to Japan, after 5 years. The continuation of my summer of the islands on Shikoku, Japan to return to a land that has been calling my name since the moment I left. Then, mais oui, the French beret (symbolism for what I really mean to be the bad habits I picked up in France) I carry with me at all times.

So, I guess I am not changing the passage, the story to my story. As a person, I have certainly not changed. The road I have taken to get to this point throughout these past 7 years, have made me think in a new way and see a good part of the world, but I am still me. Still just a girl with a serious case of Wanderlust.


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