I find it funny that when people say, “I’m originally from…” they launch into some long list of all the places they have called home. And while I could certainly do that now, for 18 years of my life home was simply Los Angeles. Korea Town to be exact. And not the more gentrified Korea Town today, but the gang infested, LA riots adjacent Korea Town of the 90’s. My mother is a New Yorican, and my father is black and was born and raised in the D. As kids, my siblings and I would get excited about going 10 blocks away just to visit our landlady with the pool (if she was in a good mood and willing to let us destroy her backyard and swim). But for us, those 10 blocks were a world away. Korea Town itself was just as Mexican and Central American as it was Korean when I was growing up, yet for all of the diversity and people from other countries, I never imagined visiting some of the places they were from. Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, Seoul… yeah right! At the time they were just places on a map. I would have needed a few minutes to tell you exactly where on that map.
As luck would have it, I managed to get into a great university that happened to also be the world leader in study abroad. In my 3 years of undergrad and one year of grad school, I managed to study abroad 4 times. It opened up a new world for me and left me wanting more. My only regret was that I hadn’t stayed longer. I vowed that if one day I could find a way to move overseas I would. It took me several years but eventually I did. Now the question my family asks me all of the time is, “Are you ever going to move back home?” Never say never, but my response is always, “I don’t plan on it.”