…and there was no way I’d ever leave the country. I was a teenager by the time my first plane trip presented itself. I was the world’s pickiest eater. I could only stomach four dishes, all of them decidedly American.

So when I got an email about teaching in China I deleted it with the same gusto one would delete emails proclaiming ability to enhance certain body parts. Then I made the serendipitous mistake of telling a friend about the email.

“You get to a computer, un-delete that email, and go to China. Do you know how many people would kill for free travel to Asia?”

He must have been persuasive because within a month I acquired my first passport, gave my credit card number to some Chinese educational travel agency (Hey, at least it wasn’t a Nigerian bank account) and I was on plane to Shanghai. Did I mention that I hated Chinese food? Including rice?

Thank God I went to China. I learned how to explore, how to suck it up, how to communicate, how to be lonely, and how to so thoroughly immerse yourself in a new place that you forget to be lonely. And man, did I get skinny! 

I was hooked. I’ve since visited three other continents, and I’m always yearning for that next trip. Maybe I’ll even go back to China this summer…