Simran Patel

Student in Athens, Georgia

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I grew up in the small town of Valdosta, Georgia. Valdosta is in a rural part of South Georgia and it is the complete opposite of everywhere I travel. My family and I always travel to a new place every year to explore the world and get out of Valdosta. I have been to eighteen different countries in eighteen years of living and each country has shown me a different view of the world. Each country I have explored has a metropolitan part and an impoverished part. Viewing both sides of a country showed me that there are more important things then visiting popular places. The popular places are always picture perfect, but there is another side to every city. For example, when visiting the Paris, the Eiffel Tower was a popular destination and it was maintained well. However, a few blocks down, there are many places in poverty and look very run down compared to the rest of the city. This showed me a real life example of not seeing the full picture. I always thought of my hometown Valdosta being so boring and run down which wanted to leave. Once I moved to college, I realized that I never saw the full picture of Valdosta and the true meaning of growing up there. I came from knowing my way through the town and knowing mostly everyone that lives there, and moved to a place where I am always lost and do not know anyone. I underestimated living in Valdosta and I cherish my memories growing up there, but now I must view the world from a different city and continue to explore.