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).
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.
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.
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.
- 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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!