The wanderlust decoration on senior Lucia Rivera’s wall. She hopes to visit many more places in her life before settling down in San Diego. (Lucia Rivera)
The wanderlust decoration on senior Lucia Rivera’s wall. She hopes to visit many more places in her life before settling down in San Diego.

Lucia Rivera

The value of wandering, only to return home

October 10, 2020

I’m a Cali-girl through and through. Even though my birthday is in October, I used to insist on a party at my favorite place: the beach, despite the colder waves. But it’s not just the nearby beaches that make me love my home. San Diego is where my closest family lives, not to mention most of the people I have spent my life interacting with.

There are a million reasons for me to never leave. Yet, as I apply to colleges, I can’t help but want to spend the next four years of my life anywhere but home. 

I see my college years as one of the greatest opportunities of my life, an experience that I can look forward to now, and cherish forever. But I also view it as my chance to explore the world that I am lucky enough to be a part of. Every time I’ve been to a new city, country or state, I have been able to experience a new atmosphere and community. Then, when I step back inside my house, I feel the same warm feeling of coming back to a place I know head to toe. 

I love beaches, stunning sunsets and warm winters. But, I also yearn to see the warm tones of fallen leaves in November, and feel snow fall around me. 

I love the people of San Diego, from the curators at Balboa Park to the waiters at my favorite restaurants. But, I also long to experience the nature of a new, different community and slowly find my place in it. 

For me, it is not about leaving San Diego. It is about arriving someplace else. 

I am applying to schools across the United States, but I also dream of studying abroad in Latin America.  I don’t remember when I first heard about studying abroad, but I know that I fell in love with the idea that I could somehow combine characteristics of my favorite childhood memories with my pursuit of higher education. I deeply cherish the annual trips my family used to make to my mom’s hometown in Nicaragua to see family and friends. Those trips taught me not to be scared of new places, but to explore my heart out before eventually returning home.

Every morning as I stand in front of my dresser and put on my rounded glasses, I see the word that adorns my wall: “wanderlust,” defined by Cambridge Dictionary as “the wish to travel far away and to many different places.” This feeling resounds with me and makes my mouth turn up at the corners. 

Across the room from my dresser are my bookshelves, with books that, during quarantine and throughout my life, have taken me, not only across the world, but also across time. In the book I’m currently reading, I’m travelling across Beijing, China. However, I am hoping that soon enough I’ll be on an actual plane lifting off the tarmac in downtown San Diego. 

After I satisfy my search for exciting, unfamiliar experiences, I know I will find my way back to San Diego. This county is where I was born and where I would want to have my own career and family, continuing to have October birthdays at the beach. But before I reach that point in my life I will continue to pursue my wanderlust, as the pandemic permits. Travelling grants me new perspectives and ideas that I can forever keep with me when I eventually return home. 


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