It’s on a Saturday night, and I’m sitting on my porch, surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, with ten strangers. To most people this would be odd, but to me, it is a part of everyday life. For the past eleven years, I have lived in a Bed and Breakfast surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains. Every day I come home to a house full of new people with fascinating stories from around the world. I sit with these strangers, introduce myself, and after a while they become friends, as we share our interests, hobbies, and backgrounds. There isn’t always a connection, but often it is as if we have known each other for years. That Saturday in October, eleven strangers came outside to the front porch after our weekly Saturday night dinner at the inn. During the next few hours, four different languages were spoken and hundreds of stories were exchanged. On my front porch, I traveled in my mind to countless countries through my own stories and the stories of others. The eleven of us had come outside as strangers and had walked back into the house as friends.
Traveling has always been a part of my life. Since my mom is Japanese-American and my dad is Monegasque, I have been raised with a blend of cultures in mind. It is my diverse background that has engrained in me an interest in different cultures and lifestyles. Although Charlottesville, Virginia has been a great area for me to grow-up, and St. Anne’s-Belfield School has given me a strong education, many times I feel like I am in a bubble—not actually living in the real world. However, by living in a Bed and Breakfast, the outside world comes to me when I am not able to leave Charlottesville. I am surrounded by people from a variety of backgrounds while sitting in my own kitchen having conversations with the guests. I am able to learn more about the world every day without needing to watch FOX or NBC news.
I will admit that having a Bed and Breakfast is not always great. My parents are always working to cater to the guests. Weekends are not a time to rest from the crazy week before, and even when I’m not having a great day, I have to put a smile on my face and talk to people that I don’t know. I do sometimes wish that I lived a “normal” life; that I lived in a two bedroom house with only my parents. However, my life is full of excitement and knowledge because of my strange home, and I wouldn’t trade how I’ve been raised for anything. Next year, I want to look beyond Charlottesville. I want to live and experience things outside of this bubble by attending a college that embraces diversity in all of its forms. I will join clubs, travel abroad, and take risks by trying new things that I have not even heard about yet. I want to share what I’ve already experienced with others and learn about their experiences in life. I look forward to this next step in my life.
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