We are blessed to have remarkable people around us every day. If we just open our hearts and acknowledge them, learn from them…imagine the possibilities? It took me awhile to decide who I would write about first in my spotlight entries. I thought of how sometimes our greatest inspirations are from those that are much younger than we are.
So, I would like to introduce you to Julia Sandrock. Once a young girl that I watched over, then a friend, later she became family to me, in the end, she is one of my biggest inspirations. Julia was an adorable and shy Korean girl who I baby- sat in my neighborhood. Almost every memory I have of her at that age was of her with her nose in a book. I loved to read as a child, so seeing this always made my heart smile. In time, I watched her blossom into a beautiful, yet still shy and timid teen. There were times that I felt a bit like a big sister to her. She would ask me questions about boys and try to work through the usual teenage emotional rollercoasters with me. I loved her. I worried for her. I wanted so badly for her to gain the confidence that I honestly knew she was capable of wearing. She was curious and smart as a whip. I couldn’t wait to see what her future would bring.
We lost touch a bit through her early high school years. Later, when fate brought our lives back together, I was blown away by the woman she had become. She was a straight-A student. She had grown even more beautiful than she was as a child. The most significant change that I saw in her was the overwhelming confidence and ambition that she exuded. I was overjoyed! She had become smart, strong, and full of dreams.
I was going through some hard times and slowly transforming myself, though I didn’t even realize it at that moment. With her subtle influence, this was the time when the child became the teacher. My teacher.
She ended up going to college and studying/working abroad. I was so proud of her, yet a bit jealous and sad as well. Jealous? Why was I jealous? I never even knew I wanted to travel? She began posting pictures of her adventures and travels. I started gluing myself to her every post. I would look at the beautiful images she posted as forms of photographic art from some distant fairy tale. All the while never realizing that every picture was feeding the growing travel beast inside of me. The joy on her face in the photographs ignited thoughts of possible happiness for me one day. Was there a chance that I could see beautiful places like these? The small whisper of hope held me on through any hard moment I had to face.
Today as I find myself sitting in a beautiful lanai, listening to the raindrops softly beating against the palms and other tropical plants. I think of her. This is my home for today, who knows where I will rest my head next and what beautiful site I will see. I honestly don’t think I would be sitting here, living this life without her influence. I am grateful for her. I laugh at the irony of the advice-giving big sister/babysitter, who worried about this shy, quiet girl when in the end that same girl opened my small mind to a whole new world of possibilities. She showed me how to seek and create my own happiness. She inspired me to dream without fear and to endlessly hope. She helped me to see that being different can also be magnificent. She showed me that fighting for your dreams can make them come true one day. I can’t wait to see what she does next. I love you, Julia. Thank you for inspiring people everywhere you go. Thank you for being the child that, in turn, became my teacher.
Interview with Julia Sandrock:
What was you favorite book growing up?
Julia: My favorite books were always fantasies. I was a big C.S. Lewis and J.K. Rowling fan growing up.
When did you know you had a dream of traveling the world?
Julia: I think there was a part of me that always wandered. Even as a little girl, I remember hiding in the bushes of my childhood home growing up, and finding peace with getting lost. I was a nomad at heart and I knew that early on.
Who was your biggest inspiration?
Julia: My biggest inspirations were my grandparents. They were big globe trekkies, and have collectively been to over 50 countries combined. The travel bug definitely runs in my family.
(A picture of a letter from her Grandmother, telling Julia of her travels)
Did you always want to go to Arcadia or was going there random?
Julia: I remember I was googling “study abroad” in high school while searching for colleges, and ‘Arcadia’, ‘Arcadia’, ‘Arcadia’ kept popping up every where. It ranks number one nationally for their study abroad programs. I applied, received a scholarship, studied abroad two times (a semester in Barcelona, Spain and another in Seoul, South Korea) and the rest is history.
What made you chose an international studies degree?
Julia: I chose international studies since I have always been interested in learning new cultures, and languages. This passion went hand in hand with my desire to see the world.
What was the first country you went to?
Julia: I went to London, England for one week. It was pretty surreal. I was hooked instantly.
How did you feel or what were you thinking the first time you went to another country?
Julia: My insatiability kicked in immediately. I knew once I visited London I wouldn’t stop wanting to see what the rest of this world had to offer.
What advice do you have for anyone dreaming of a life filled with travel?
Julia: My life advice for anyone who is genuinely seeking to live a nomadic lifestyle…TAKE RISKS! The things in life that scare you the most, end up being the most worthwhile. I knew I had to get uncomfortable sometimes to truly feel alive. Traveling has been the only time in my life where I felt purely alive. Oh, and teach English one time in your life! I did it for one year, and it was the most fulfilling experience of my life. You get paid to travel and teach your native tongue. It was the best year of my life!
What was a favorite memory of somewhere you traveled?
Julia: Going to Costa Rica was an amazing experience. It was a very authentic trip where we visited the indigenous tribes in the region, and studied the Borcuca Dam Conflict. Also, the Phi Phi islands was a sight to remember. The Taj mahaj is as majestic as it sounds. The great wall of China is as massive as you would imagine.
What is next on the list? Future plans/dreams?
Julia: Next on my list or agenda is Argentina! I recently got accepted to a community project in Argentina where I will spend a week with a volunteer organization. I am going through International Volunteer HQ, which is the world’s leading volunteer travel company. I am planning to do one service trip a year with International Volunteer HQ.
We all have incredible people around us everyday. Be grateful for them, appreciate them, and allow your soul to soak up the inspiring essence that they emanate. Because, in the future you may just end up following in their foot steps.
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Sending you love and light,