The Wander Effect
excerpted from “The Wander Effect,” available in full at www.therivetermagazine.com
In planning to leave for South Korea, I felt like I was finally paving my own path doing something new and exciting and fresh. When I got to Seoul, however, I quickly realized I wasn’t alone; my desire to travel and my experiences weren’t unique. I worked alongside young and newly graduated Canadian teachers who had come to Korea for more teaching experience (an alternative to taking short-term teaching positions at home), frequently met young American soldiers who lived on the military base there, and joined hiking and volunteer groups made up primarily of Western expatriates. I wasn’t alone. And I started to realize travel isn’t necessarily temporary; wandering becomes a way of life.
When I went to Germany and, later, Ireland, to complete my Master’s degree, there were two other young women from our small class who had also taught English in South Korea, and nearly everyone in the program had international experience, almost all under 30 years of age. Everyone, like myself, was young and hungry to do something meaningful, mostly outside of our home countries.
There are certain universal qualities to travelers; most of us probably have a blog somewhere stating our “wanderlust.” A 2013 CNN article on “big, unnecessary, crazy, travel” paints the picture well — it’s no longer unique to travel the globe and Millennials, typically defined as people between 18 and 34 years old, aredoing so at a rising rate. American Millennials are additionally shaped by very slow job growth, student debt, and a community-oriented desire to create change.
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