Tamie asked about my world travels after i posted that cool map of the world which highlighted countries I've visited. I love to travel. I started young. My first adventure without my parents was when I was 14 and spent 2 weeks in Japan. It was a homestay exchange arranged by my aunt who lived in Japan at the time and taught English. The mom of the family I stayed with was one of her English students, and the 20 year old son came and stayed with our family on our farm for 2 weeks later that summer. I loved it! It was amazing. I brought my best friend at the time with me, which was good and bad: good because I had company for my first cross cultural experience, and bad because we were kind of insular. You know, being 14 and all. But I learned TONS that opened my eyes (not least of which was the surprising discovery that not all peoples in the world are itching to immigrate to MY country!! So funny in retrospect!). Japan is amazing. There are so many people it seems like one big city everywhere you go, though that is not accurate. Rural Japan is beautiful, and does exist. We visited many temples and museums, Japanese Disneyland, several famous sites and cities, and had a wonderful time. It was a really good way to experience travel for the first time, as we were cared for and sheltered by our host family, but also shown the sights. It was hot. We went in July. Japanese culture is VERY complex, full of convoluted face saving, heightened politeness, drive, incredible work ethic, and a penchant for honesty and integrity that surpasses any culture I've had the privilege of interacting with since. My aunt told me that once she filled up her car with gas at her local full serve fuel station, and the attendant forgot to replace her gas cap after refueling. My aunt returned after she discovered it was gone and the cap was waiting for her, and the attendant had been fired.
Can you imagine that happening in CANADA? Oh, we lost your gas cap? Huh. I hear you can buy a new one at Canadian Tire. See ya later.
Anyways, it was a wonderful trip and I LOVED Japanese culture. If i had been a bit older I may have been able to experience the Japanese club scene, which is apparently a trip in itself. Japanese young people party as hard as they work and study, and it can be SOME FUN, I hear.
That was my overseas travel initiation. I caught the bug. The rest is history.