Becoming an Exchange Student: Why It Was One of My Best Decisions in Life (Part 1)

As time inched closer to February 2014, I reminisced on the process of how I arrived on the doorstep of an exchange program for one year in Taiwan. Based on history at my university (Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU)), it was uncommon for exchange students to be gone for longer than one semester, and the Global Studies office tried convincing me to follow the normal standard. Me being the stubborn guy I am remained firm with my desire to be overseas for a year. After discussing with Dr. Jih (Taiwanese professor at MTSU) and Dr. Chin (Taiwanese professor at Chung Yuan Christian University (CYCU)), the Global Studies office not only agreed to let me become an exchange student for the entire year, but they also provided me with a study abroad scholarship, which was a true blessing.

NEWSFLASH: YOU DON’T NEED YOUR ENTIRE WARDROBE!

During the last few days leading up to my departure, I packed two large pieces of luggage as well as a carry-on; included in these were two large vacuum-sealed bags stuffed with what seemed like my whole closet. Please learn from my mistakes; YOU DON’T NEED YOUR ENTIRE WARDROBE! I barely used half of the stuff I brought, if that; I was simply following the typical behaviors employed when traveling (i.e. it’s better to have & not need than not have & need). If you move to another country, and it turns out you need something, just buy it there; for example, you can find great clothes for extremely low prices in Taiwan. I obviously did not need any because I had probably 50 outfits too many (honestly not sure if that’s an exaggeration at this point).

Upon arrival to the Nashville International Airport, I bid my farewells to family with full embraces. As I walked away & toward the entrance, feelings of both contentment and excitement rose within me; my journey was about to begin.

New Taiwan Dollars (NT$); the amount pictured above roughly equals $62.20 USD

After repeating my excruciatingly long flights from my previous trip to Taiwan (Nashville to Minneapolis, Minneapolis to Tokyo-Narita, Tokyo-Narita to Taipei), I finally landed in Taiwan and proceeded to exchange my currency into New Taiwan Dollars (NT$). My soon-to-be friend from Kazakhstan, Ledjer (LJ), was one of the people who picked me up; side note: he does not like Borat jokes. The ride back to CYCU caused all of the study abroad memories from the year prior to come flooding back; being able to relive those first moments and see all of the wonderful aspects of Taiwanese culture again was a dream come true. After settling into my dorm room, I crashed as I had little success sleeping on any of the flights.

back when I was single & before my wife trained me how to be a great photographer aka Instagram bf/fiance’/husband
It’s not Red Stripe; hooray beer!

The next day, I went for a walk around CYCU to get some fresh air and decided to head to the Zhong Yuan night market area; most of the vendors don’t set up until night, but I wanted to stop by my favorite local bakery and ji rou fan (chicken & rice) eatery. Later that evening, my Taiwanese roommate, Noah, took me to a restaurant with delicious local cuisine, accompanied with Taiwan Gold Medal Lager; I was too busy stuffing my face to take better photos (sorry, not sorry).

Dr. Lee is a rare, dare-I-say, Mr. Feeny-esque type of teacher that truly cares about his students.

My very first class in Taiwan was Philosophy of Life with Dr. Jimmy Lee, a really funny professor full of energy & charisma. He was one of my absolute favorite professors in Taiwan (also Dr. Gary Chin, Dr. Francis, & Dr. Chandler Chu). One of his favorite phrases to talk about was “carpe diem,” which means to seize the day. More than anything else, Dr Lee’s imploring of us to live life to the fullest each and every day has really stuck with me. “Are we really living our lives, or are we just accepting it.” Sometimes, when I catch myself going through the motions and doing the normal types of things simply out of habit, I think back to that discussion. Dr. Lee is a rare, dare-I-say, Mr. Feeny-esque type of teacher that truly cares about his students.

“Are we really living our lives, or are we just accepting it.”

After class, I made some friends with a few Taiwanese students over at the basketball courts and played for a couple of hours; they love their hoops over in Taiwan. Every Time Taiwan native Jeremy Lin goes back to visit, thousands of Taiwanese flock the Taoyuan International Airport to greet him; it’s pretty unreal and shows the passion the locals have for their country to give that type of support.

Those are the simple moments in life which turn out to be perfect and stick with you forever; life is as complicated as you make it.

Ji Pai (Taiwanese fried chicken) in all of its majestic glory with a Taiwanese chile spicy seasoning on top; zhen de hao chi (really delicious)
Xiang Chang (Taiwanese sausage)

Following a shower, I left the dorm room to go enjoy the Zhong Yuan night market; ji pai (Taiwanese fried chicken) was calling my name. Between that, xiangchang (Taiwanese sausage), and a host of other goodies, I had more than enough to fill me up. Afterwards, I met up with some friends I met during the study abroad, and we had ourselves a small get-together (or so we thought). A small group of 4 or 5 at 7-Eleven turned into dozens, and the 2-liter of Jim Beam we bought at Daren Fa (RT Mart) was quickly vanquished. I will neither confirm nor deny the amount of Johnnie Walker subsequently bought at the convenience store. Those are the simple moments in life which turn out to be perfect and stick with you forever; life is as complicated as you make it. From that night onward, we formed what we like to call “the international drinking group.” Of course, our friendships go much deeper than alcohol, but whiskey does make most situations more entertaining. All kidding aside, I will never forget all of the amazing people I have come across in Taiwan; the people are one factor of many which keeps me coming back time and time again.

Taiwan flag

And with that, I feel we have reached a good stopping point for Part I; please join me next time for the continuation of this story. As always, please feel free to leave comments/questions as I will be reading each and every one of them and giving responses where appropriate. If you want to know something, ask away! Please hit those follow, share, & like buttons; just don’t eat the apple. Until next time, stay traveling!

Reverse Culture Shock

Many people have come to me lately about the topics of culture shock & reverse culture shock, and I wanted to address those. When people think about these concepts, they tend to focus more on the former, rather than the latter. Culture shock is when the destination you are traveling to is vastly different from your home country in many different aspects, which brings a “shock” (so-to-speak) to your system.

The “shock,” in reality, is a wake-up call.

I am here to say this is completely true, except not in the negative sense people tend to view it. The “shock,” in reality, is a wake-up call. Within seconds of stepping foot overseas, you can feel your previous paradigms crumbling to pieces; at least, this is how it felt for me the first time I landed in Taiwan.  

Culture shock is realizing, as a wise person once told me, “you don’t know what you don’t know.”

Culture shock is realizing, as a wise person once told me, “you don’t know what you don’t know.” And boy, was I ever clueless about how the world really is. According to the news media (more like propaganda at this point), the rest of the world is unsafe, less advanced, and more or less a 3rd world country in comparison. While this may be true in certain cases, most of the places I have been blessed & fortunate to see are far from this stereotype.

I have always been an introvert, but when overseas, the extrovert part of me jumps out. I truly feel I’m where I belong when traveling, whether it be Taiwan, Italy, Japan, Mexico, etc. Outside of your normal comfort zone, something in the air brings out the true you. But don’t take my word for it; find out for yourself!

Reverse culture shock is a very real thing. Since moving back from Taiwan the last time in 2015, aside from my visits overseas, I have felt a bit lost here at “home.” I use quotations around home because I really believe home is where your heart lies. A part of my heart will always lie in the US due to family & friends, but a large portion of it remains in Taiwan, Italy, and every other amazing place I have been blessed to see and experience.

Like in the movie, the Matrix, my travel experiences were the equivalent of taking the red pill; however, instead of waking up to a complete disaster (like in the movie), it made me feel truly alive.

Since returning, at times, it has felt as if I’ve been coasting through life, Like in the movie, the Matrix, my travel experiences were the equivalent of taking the red pill; however, instead of waking up to a complete disaster (like in the movie), it made me feel truly alive. Consequentially, corporate life in America & the prospect of being a future CFO does not draw my excitement as it once did.

My advice for adjusting to life back “home” is taking a long, hard look in the mirror and reevaluating your priorities, desires, & interests going forward. If you have a certain passion and dream, do not waste countless years pretending it isn’t real; on the contrary, do whatever it takes to make your dream become a reality. Furthermore, because we are creatures of habit, we tend to gravitate towards behaviors we are used to performing in our daily lives; it is up to you to be mindful of this and nip it in the bud before it leads you further down a path of coasting through life.

As always, please feel free to leave comments/questions as I will be reading each and every one of them and giving responses where appropriate. If you want to know something, ask away! Please hit those follow, share, & like buttons; just don’t eat the apple. Until next time, stay traveling!

A Lifetime in Italy: A Dream or Your Next Reality?

Many people dream of simply packing their (necessary) things and moving abroad to Italy, including me. I was recently approached by a couple (the Abbotts) currently living in Italy, and I found their story to be really unique. Because of the housing market decline in Italy, they have had a difficult time selling their lovely home; after renting it out via Airbnb, they came up with the idea to have a prize raffle for the house. Imagine buying 1 of the 6,000 (at most) raffle tickets being sold and walking away with a beautiful house in a true rustic Italian city. The Abbotts have graciously accepted my request for an interview; keep reading below for all of the details. Without further ado, this is their story.

Q: Hi James, thank you for allowing me to conduct this interview with you. Can you tell me a little about you & your wife’s backgrounds, where you’re from, what you do for a living, what brought you to Italy?

Courtesy of the Abbotts
Courtesy of the Abbotts
Courtesy of the Abbotts
Courtesy of the Abbotts
Courtesy of the Abbotts

A: I am English, and my wife is Danish. I came to Italy 17 years ago on an old, beat-up 1970s Vespa, riding it from England 15,000 km around Europe. I have always been drawn to Italy and thoroughly loved the area of Abruzzo from my time visiting. I decided to make this area my home, and after searching around, I found this beautiful house up for sale. I met my wife whilst snowboarding in the Dolomites, and she chose to come live here with me. We run a small online shop called Rustic Italia (www.etsy.com/shop/rusticitalia) and sell vintage and rustic pieces from Italy predominantly to the US, but all around the world. My wife & I have a lifetime’s worth of great memories in this house, and while bittersweet, I am excited for whomever wins the raffle and is able to make memories of their own.

The Abbott home in Abruzzo, Italy

Q: I completely understand your love for Italy; this is a very special place and probably my most sought-after destination to live. When you reached out to me earlier in the week, I found your story to be quite remarkable. For my readers who have yet to hear it, can you walk us through the details of how this idea came about?

“After restoring the house, we planned to sell it, but the property market in the area and in Italy has declined dramatically.”

A: After restoring the house, we planned to sell it, but the property market in the area and in Italy has declined dramatically; in the meantime, we started to rent it on Airbnb very successfully. However, we have plans to do other projects and still wanted to sell the house. In the UK, these house prize draws have been running with some success, so we decided to explore that opportunity. With the help of a great web designer, we put together the site and began the competition.

Q: Fascinating, but why exactly are you looking to sell your beautiful home?

A: Really to fund the next project, although we don’t know exactly what that will be yet… But we absolutely love this area so are staying here.

Courtesy of the Abbotts

Q: I see; now, can you tell us exactly how this prize raffle is going to work? I understand you have limited your raffle ticket sales to 6,000 at 50 pounds (roughly $66) each and have already sold over half; how did you determine the price and the amount of tickets you were going to sell?

A: Other house raffles sold tickets for a much lower price and needed to sell many more tickets, so people would buy one for next to nothing and not think about it. Owning a second home is a responsibility and we wanted people to think about that. £50 isn’t much if you are getting a house at the end of it, but it’s enough not to just put it down on anything. We hope to sell all of the tickets of course, and then at the closing date (September 30th), we will hold the draw whereby each ticket is given a random number that’s been generated digitally. There will be an independent observer, and we will record the proceedings via video. Once a winner is chosen, we will call them to let them know the great news!

Q: Some readers may be skeptical & hesitant at first to join this lottery-of-sorts (with much better odds, I must say) as they may feel it could be a scam. How would you like to address this out in the open and reassure the people?

“The UK Gambling Commission has approved of the prize draw, and a notary will be responsible for the transfer of the deeds to the winner.”

A: We have tried to be as open, honest, and transparent as possible about this from the beginning. Our contact details, Facebook, & Instagram accounts are on the website; anyone is welcome to contact us with any concerns, and we have answers to frequently asked questions on the site as well. My wife & I document our daily lives with the kids in order for everyone to see we are real people. The UK Gambling Commission has approved of the prize draw, and a notary will be responsible for the transfer of the deeds to the winner.

Q: Perfetto. I would like to make a side note to my audience; I have had a great deal of contact with James & his wife lately, and they seem like really lovely people with good hearts and a love for travel that we all cherish. Now that we have gotten through all of the more difficult questions, let’s get into the house itself & the Abruzzo region of Italy. What makes this part of Italy special, and why should people yearn to live there?

Courtesy of the Abbotts
Courtesy of the Abbotts
Lago (Lake) Sinizzo in Abruzzo, Italy
James Abbott chopping wood at his home to a beautiful view

A: Abruzzo is a very special place; it is easily accessible from Rome, only 90 minutes to the house, but the beauty is Abruzzo is relatively untouched by tourists. Tuscany and Umbria are beautiful places, but heaving with people. Abruzzo is much more understated; you feel you are discovering something new at every turn. There are gorgeous medieval stone villages, snow-capped mountains for skiing, castles, lakes, trails for hiking and cycling, beautiful beaches, national parks, amazing wildlife – the list goes on.

Q: That sounds simply perfect; where can I sign up (laughter). Another question my readers would probably like to know is how convenient your house is to local restaurants, stores, parks, etc. Also, what is the nearest big city?

1 of 3 excellent local pizza restaurants
Ancient Roman ruin of Peltuinum (14 km away from the house)

A: The village is very small with only a local shop for the basics. But very close by, there are numerous restaurants with excellent food, a larger local supermarket in the next village, vineyards for some excellent Abruzzo Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine, located on the doorstep of the Gran Sasso National Park, and has nature all around. The nearest big city to fly to for most of your readers will be Rome, 90 minutes away, but Pescara and the beaches are 50 minutes away and L’Aquila, the largest local city, is 30 minutes away.

Q: Great! Well, I want to thank you again for going through this interview with me. It has been a pleasure getting to know you and your story, and I hope our paths cross one day in Italy. Do you have any last words you’d like to say to my readers before we sign off?

A: I am very excited to meet whoever it is that wins our house and look forward to showing them this wonderful area. We’ll eat in one of the local restaurants and enjoy one or two glasses of the delicious local wine whilst we plan a tour of the most amazing things to do. And, of course, I wish you all the very best of luck!

There you have it, folks! The dream of owning your own home in Italy is very much alive. Having personally experienced most of the well-traveled spots of bello l’Italia myself, being able to explore a mostly undiscovered area sounds like one adventure after another waiting to happen. Make your dream a reality today.

As always, please feel free to leave comments/questions as I will be reading each and every one of them & giving responses where appropriate. If you want to know something, ask away! Please hit those follow, share, & like buttons; just don’t eat the apple. Until next time, stay traveling! Visit the site down below for any additional information you need.

https://winahouseinitaly.co.uk/?ref=AdamsApple

From Tennessee to Taiwan: My Study Abroad Experience

The year is 2013. I had gone through a couple of rough patches before deciding to undergo a change of pace with a study abroad. Initially, traveling was just an escape from the monotonous, day-to-day life for me, or so I thought. In reality, instead of escaping from something, I soon found traveling to be a wonderful journey into life. In the US, I often feel like a trapped rat, constantly fearing failure and feeling self-conscious. When I’m traveling, I feel I can be anyone I want to be, do anything I want to do. Something about traveling brings out the best of me – the real me.

Traveling brings out the best of me – the real me.

The Spring semester came and went, and before I knew it, July had arrived. After going through the typical check-in & security checkpoint, I walked to my gate and joined my fellow study abroad participants. The first time flying to the other side of the world felt as if time was standing still (and not in a positive way). The flight from Nashville, TN to Minneapolis, MN was not bad, but the one to Tokyo, Japan in a middle seat had my legs feeling cramped.

At last, we finally arrived in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan. Students and faculty from Chung Yuan Christian University (CYCU) picked us up from the airport in a shuttle bus. I remember my first moment overseas as vividly as the back of my hand; looking out on the streetlamp-lit streets, I noticed hundreds of scooters, buildings with lighted signs & Chinese characters, and vendors selling street food. The initial vibe I received was far different than anything I had ever experienced in the US, and it piqued my curiosity to another level.

7-Elevens are local hangouts in Asia that serve a wide array of local snacks & meals and sell alcohol; the outdated open container laws we have in America do not exist in many places overseas, hence why DUIs are substantially lower

Once we arrived at the university’s dorm that we were staying in for the next three weeks, a group of us decided to go with some of the local Taiwanese students to one of the nearby 7-Elevens to grab some snacks. We were taken aback by how cool Asian convenience stores are compared to the ones we have in the US. Whether you’re in the mood for instant noodles, a sandwich, some fried food, or just some scotch whiskey, 7-Eleven has about everything you are looking for.

Outside of the Zhongli Train Station

We built connections & friendships that will last a lifetime.

The next morning, I went with some of the other study abroad students to explore the surrounding area of Zhong Yuan. Afterwards, we had our orientation and met up with all of the local students. Over the course of those three weeks, we built connections & friendships that will last a lifetime.

Dr. Jih speaking during orientation
Spicy Taiwanese kimchi fried dumplings; they taste even better than they look

One of my first meals in Taiwan was at a local dumpling shop near CYCU. I tend to lean towards spicy food, so I ordered the spicy Taiwanese kimchi fried dumplings, and they were phenomenal; these were easily the best dumplings I had ever eaten in my life, and this was only a Taiwanese chain restaurant. Americanized food in the States does not compare to the real deal abroad. I will save other food discussions for future articles, but Taiwan is a must-see destination for the “foodies”.

Taipei 101
Selfie in front of the Taiwanese version of “The White House”; Luke with the classic photobomb
My friend, Wilson, and I at a local restaurant
My buddies, Wayne & Justin
A waterfall near Longshan Temple in Taipei
Sun Moon Lake

Kindness transcends all barriers.

Beyond our studies in the classroom, the study abroad group had field trips to various factories, Taipei, Sun Moon Lake, etc., but my favorite moments were outings with the locals. Taiwanese are some of the friendliest people on earth, and they went out of their way to ensure we had an absolutely incredible time. Whether we were strolling through night markets full of delicious & exotic food, walking through the beauty of Danshui, or playing a game of basketball, language barriers were nowhere to be found; kindness transcends all barriers.

Part of the study abroad group gearing for takeoff; also pictured in this photo are some Taiwanese students and Dr. Chin, an outstanding professor at CYCU

As we arrived at Taoyuan International Airport for our departure, there were some emotional goodbyes. However, deep down, I knew I would be back soon. There was a drive & determination inside me that willed it to happen. Upon my arrival back in Tennessee, I was a constant presence in the Global Studies office over the next several weeks; I added Global Studies as a 2nd major (the other being Accounting). The department at my university & Dr. Jih came to an agreement with Dr. Chin & CYCU for me to become an exchange student for the entirety of 2014, and this is where our story will pick up next time.

As always, please feel free to leave comments/questions as I will be reading each and every one of them and giving responses where appropriate. If you want to know something, ask away! Please hit those follow, share, & like buttons; just don’t eat the apple. Until next time, stay traveling!

Traveling is Living

For my first post, I would like to introduce myself, give you a little information about my background, and discuss my reasons for creating this blog/vlog and its future.

Firstly, my name is Adam Smith, and I was born and raised in middle Tennessee, where my family still resides; I currently live in Gainesville, Florida. I am a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), and for the past two-and-a-half years, I have been working as an Accountant for Hospital Corporation of America (HCA).

However, in 2013, I had a life-changing experience that made me change my entire outlook on life.

All my life since early high school, I have tried convincing myself that my dream and ultimate career goal is to be a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for a major corporation, and this is what I have groomed myself for. However, in 2013, I had a life-changing experience that made me change my entire outlook on life.

It all started from discussions with my roommate at the time: my best friend, Dylan; he encouraged me to look into studying abroad as he had great experiences with doing so in the past. He thought it would be good for me as I had privately battled bouts of depression that I mostly kept to myself, except for him.

So, after our discussions, I looked through my university’s study abroad programs, and my first choices were Italy and Ireland due to having ancestors from both of those countries; however, the prices were outrageous, which discouraged me at first, but I kept searching.

Illustration of Taiwan

Eventually, I came across Taiwan, and honestly, I had virtually zero clue about anything regarding this island country, but the price for this study abroad was cheap compared to most of the other programs. After doing some extensive research about Taiwan, I learned about its location (off the coast of China), history, politics, sights & attractions, nightlife, culture, and last but certainly not least, its people.

Taiwan appeared to be a really unique and beautiful place to visit, so I scheduled a meeting with the professor who was leading the study abroad, Dr. Kenny Jih (pronounced like the musician, Kenny G), who has become a mentor for me over the years. The passion he had for his country was so obvious in his eyes, speech, and demeanor, and he had the program cheap because he wanted to introduce as many people as possible to his home on the other side of the world.

“Have an open mind.”

Within days, I was all signed up and set for my 3-week trip, which would be taking place in July of 2013. As the trip drew ever nearer, Dylan gave me some of the best advice I have ever received; it was simply, “Have an open mind.” I cannot stress enough how important it was for me to put aside any and all preconceived notions and just take the entire experience in with an open mind.

I will be going more in-depth into each of my travel experiences in future blog posts, but for now, here is a brief overview of where my life has gone since the initial Taiwan study abroad trip.

My wife, Mora, and I in Taiwan
  • July 2013: Studied abroad in Taiwan
  • February 2014: Became a dual-major by adding Global Studies as my 2nd major; I did this so I could be an exchange student in Taiwan for 1 year
  • May 2014: Traveled to the Philippines
  • October 2014: Began dating a beautiful Taiwanese woman, Mora
  • January 2015: Moved back to Tennessee
  • May 2015: Finished both undergraduate programs
  • July 2015: Moved back to Taiwan & taught English
  • December 2015: Moved back to Tennessee
  • January 2016: Started Master’s of Accountancy program
  • July 2016: Got married in Taiwan
  • August 2016: Traveled to Osaka & Kyoto, Japan
  • November 2016: Started Accounting career at HCA
  • December 2016: Belated honeymoon in Mexico at Excellence Playa Mujeres
  • April 2017: Became a CPA
  • August 2017: My wife, Mora, moved to the US
  • September 2017: Spent 2 weeks in Italy (I can’t wait to tell all of you about this)
  • January 2018: My wife & I relocated to Gainesville, FL due to an internal transfer with HCA for me
  • Planned – May 2019: My wife & I will be spending 2 weeks in Taiwan, followed by 2 nights in Seoul, South Korea

It is very easy to fall into the trap of complacency.

While I won’t be going into detail on the above experiences in this post, the impact that my world travels have had on me is why I’m creating this blog/vlog. There is an endless amount of places I have yet to experience, so I will be living my dream out through this avenue over time (as finances allow) and would be happy to have all of you join me. My desire is for this to be read far and wide as it is more than the typical travel & food blogs that you find elsewhere.

In America, it is very easy to fall into the trap of complacency. Because America is so vast, most of us tend to stay in our comfort zone. Because we haven’t been outside the country, we have no idea what we’re missing. One of the biggest mistakes we Americans make is following the nationwide trend of accumulating material things vs making lifelong memories; I have certainly been guilty of this as well.

Earth Illustration

I love America and am proud to be an American, but to those of you who think this country is the best at everything, my belief is you are mistaken. America certainly has a lot to offer, and there are many areas in which this country excels. But I am here to tell you that for you to truly understand, you need to go experience these places for yourself.

I have heard countless people casually dismiss traveling abroad for reasons such as: 1) “It’s dangerous outside of the US.” 2) “I can’t afford to travel.” 3) “I don’t have the time.” 4) “There’s nothing out there that the US doesn’t already have.”

For one, most of the places I have personally been to are far safer than the average city in the US, especially Taiwan. If you feel comfortable with your safety here in America, then in many cases, there is no need to overly worry. Be smart; use the same common sense you use here.

I firmly believe home is where the heart is, and my heart lies in every destination I have been blessed to see.

The 2nd argument, like the others, is an excuse people use to rationalize their insecurities about traveling outside of their comfort zone, which is “home.” I firmly believe home is where the heart is, and my heart lies in every destination I have been blessed to see. There are plenty of ways to travel on a budget, and I will gladly share some of these tips in future posts.

The 3rd argument, while understandable with how busy American life is, can be countered as well. There is no perfect time to travel, and waiting until retirement to start living life to the fullest is not doing yourself any favors.

Duomo in Milano

I could probably poke a thousand holes in the last argument; the rest of the world has so much to offer that words, pictures, videos cannot possibly do justice. For the architecture buffs out there (me included), you will find that truly beautiful architecture mostly lies outside of the US; I absolutely love comparing and contrasting the different styles city-to-city, country-to-country.

When in Rome, you do as the Romans do. And when in Firenze (Florence), you eat bistecca alla Fiorentina, a massive 1 kg steak made from chianina cows

For the foodies, you can have authentic food right from the source, such as xiao long bao (soup dumplings) in Taiwan, pizza in Rome & Naples, la bistecca alla Fiorentina (Florentine steak) in Firenze (Florence), A5 Wagyu steak in Kobe, Japan.

For ambience, you have the peaceful bliss of le Cinque Terre, the bustling, traffic-filled streets of Taipei, the old town charm of Kyoto & Tainan, and the romance capital of the world in Paris.

For unique experiences, you can take a private water taxi and a gondola in Venice, stroll through the fun, exotic night markets throughout Taiwan, gaze upon the awe-inspiring Sistine Chapel at the Vatican, and even visit the vineyards in Tuscany.

You have never truly visited a place until you have fully immersed yourself in the culture and its people.

All of the aforementioned experiences are fantastic, but they pale in comparison to the most important aspects of a place: its people, language, and culture. You have never truly visited a place until you have fully immersed yourself in the culture and its people.

Some of my closest friends in the entire world – photo taken in Zhong Yuan, Taiwan

Some of my fondest memories abroad are with my international group of friends in Taiwan; there are far too many people and countries to name, but some of them hail from Taiwan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Vietnam, Mongolia, India, France, Indonesia, Tunisia, the Philippines, and the list goes on.


Close yourself off to the world, and you will find every reason to hate it, but approach the world with an open mind and a good heart, and you’ll realize we’re all in this together.

There is a newfound excitement in my life I cannot explain, and my passion for traveling cannot be overstated. I believe this was the path God placed me on, and I owe it to Him to share these experiences with anyone who wants to hop on this great adventure of life with me.

Close yourself off to the world, and you will find every reason to hate it, but approach the world with an open mind and a good heart, and you’ll realize we’re all in this together with so much to offer one another. There is no limit to the amount of true, lifelong friends and connections you can make by doing this.

Join me as we set sail on this wonderful adventure around the world together. Considering America is part of this world and where I’m from & reside, I will also be introducing you to some of my favorite spots here. As always, please feel free to leave comments/questions as I will be reading each and every one of them and giving responses where appropriate. If you want to know something, ask away! Please hit those follow & like buttons; just don’t eat the apple. Until next time, stay traveling!