I've been to 30 countries and lived in Japan for three years (I speak Japanese). Immersing myself in other cultures further develops my values, reminds me not to take anything for granted and is always a hell of an exciting time.
My three most impactful travel experiences detailed below were the two summers I spent teaching English in Taiwan with my best friend, the summer I traveled around the world by sea with my identical twin brother and the three years I did business in Japan.
Eager for a fresh experience, I decided to teach English in Taiwan my first summer after graduating high school. My best friend and I had enough money saved so we packed our bags for a summer in Taiwan without a return flight back home. It was the best summer of my life.
I learned first-hand how important language was and how blessed I was to be a native English speaker. I learned to drive a scooter in mayhem. I ate things I never heard of. I danced the nights away to genres of music that never had struck my ear. By living in another culture for three months, I realized how shallow many of my views were on many aspects of life. I became a better person.
I was hooked.
So, I did it again the next summer. With my English teaching experience from the summer prior, I was able to land a full time English teaching gig for one of the highest ranked high schools in the country.
I had so much fun goofing off with the high schoolers. We danced, we sang and I taught them how to skateboard. I revolved their English instruction around their passions to maintain their engagement and improve their learning. In turn, we all had a great time learning more of each other. I loved working with the kids. Our feelings were mutual as the students voted me as their favorite English teacher of the entire high school that summer.
Semester at Sea
I was accepted into University of Pittsburgh's Semester at Sea (SaS) program in my Junior year of college. Although I had just passed tryouts for the Temple University Ice Hockey team, I knew the SaS would be a voyage of a lifetime. My identical twin brother also made the cut for SaS that semester which made it an easy decision for us to hit the seas.
My voyage around the world by sea was phenomenal. It was a lifetime of learning packed into a summer. My curriculum focused on International Business with related fieldwork in the nine countries we each spent two weeks in. Those countries were Cuba (Fidel Castro spoke to us!), Brazil, South Africa, Tanzania, India, Vietnam, Hong Kong, South Korea, North Korea and Japan.
I'd further elaborate about this experience of a lifetime if I hadn't already published a book of such titled, "Around the World".
Check it out!
Since my initial summer in Taiwan, I knew that I wanted to apply my business aptitude internationally. Recognizing that Japan's economy was second to USA's (at the time), I set my sights on Japan. My career goal since my first year of college was to do international business with Japan. Immediately upon graduation I said sayonara to the USA and moved to Tokyo to seek employment. I was lucky enough to land the job of my dreams at a Japanese marketing company.
As Japanese was critical to my success, I developed custom software for myself to learn the language most efficiently. After about a year in Japan, I randomly met the Director of PayPal, Japan at a bar. He was so impressed with my Japanese language ability and particularly with the software I had made that he convinced me to quit my full-time job at IMP, Inc. to start a language learning software business with his initial seed investment. I called the company PlaySay.
I spent the next two years growing PlaySay in Japan by targeting English natives learning Japanese. My three years in Japan gave me an unparalleled understanding of myself, the Japanese culture and international business thereof.
My time in Japan was the best experience of my life.
Will Travel for Experience
Travel is the best personal investment. I come back from every new country a better person.
30 countries down, 166 to go.