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Photo by Emily Shahrzad Rahravan, Indonesia Semester.

Sarah’s introduction

“We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves.”

I would not say that I’m the adventuresome type who wants to lose herself. I’m organized, cautious, risk averse. But there’s something about being in another country that I find incredibly grounding. I often find great relief being away and I have come to realize that the only time my true self comes out is when I’m abroad.

My love of travel was born around the same time that I started to study foreign languages. It gave new meaning to my classes and helped spark a deep love of learning. To twelve-year-old Sarita language posed a new, exciting kind of challenge: a chance to create a new version—or perhaps new versions—of my self. My Spanish, French, and Italian teachers spoke with different idioms, mannerisms, intonations. I incorporated bits and pieces of their languages, cultures, and values to such a degree that now, after twenty years, I often hear myself responding to my own students and I recognize their voices in me. What I find even more fascinating, however, is that my Argentinian self is different from my Peruvian self, which is different from my French self, and my Italian self is the most carefree of all.

This course in Indonesia will be the first time I will be attempting to build relationships and learn about cultures that are so distant from my own that I can’t rely on my language skills. I believe that these new challenges will help me grow to understand other individuals even more deeply. And, as before, I have no doubt that in the process I will learn about another aspect of my self.