Samantha Kichman, born in South Korea, has never known a life where she hasn’t been traveling. Between trips to Portugal and Honduras and living in Florence for the fall of her fourth-grade year, Samantha found at a young age that traveling was just as important to her as it had always been to her mom. Now graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Samantha is ready to start her own travels, moving on from the university life to life abroad. The following are all questions we’re dying to have answered:
Where are you going next and why?
Samantha plans to start her journey in Europe, spending time in Georgia, Istanbul, Edinburgh, Oxford, and Bordeaux, before heading to Africa to spend the rest of the summer with her mom. She’s not entirely sure what’s on the agenda, but drinking wine, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and walking the Camino de Santiago through the north of Spain are in the books as of right now until September of this year.
In September, Samantha starts an internship in South Africa working with an organization that stops human trafficking until November, when she will be volunteering in Cambodia for five weeks working on various projects, including teaching English. Post-Africa, Samantha is heading to the UK to do research for a few months in hopes of turning her honors thesis on Women’s Literary Tradition of WWI into a book. Should she be given the fellowships she applies for, funding will take her to archives around the world, as well as Greece, Lebanon, or Jordan to work with Syrian refugees to complete her research. Depending how the book goes, she may go to graduate school, but right now she’s waiting to see where this plan takes her.
Where do you plan to stay?
Many people, when they choose to stay abroad, will rent a home for several months or stay in hostels, but because Sam and her mom are staying in some of the countries for as little as four days, services like Airbnb and Couchsurfing are easy, cost-effective options. Airbnb allows you to stay in an entire home or private rooms for a fraction of hotel or vacation rental costs, and Couchsurfing allows you to stay in a home with a family or couple for free. Hostels, while a great option, aren’t always the cleanest option. Sam and her mom have heard one too many bed bug horror stories. They stick to Airbnb and Couchsurfing for that reason.
Do you miss home while traveling?
Home is a hard word. Growing up a traveler, home was just really wherever you were at the time. It was more about who you were with than where you were, Samantha explains, saying “My mom sold my childhood home in Colorado when I was a sophomore in college and since I went to college, I feel like the only home I really have is my mom.”
Can just anyone travel like you and your mom?
There’s a difference between a vacationer and a traveler. A vacationer is accommodated and usually has a plan for the day. They are visiting Jamaica’s most beautiful waters for a week; they are exploring the streets of Italy for a month. Travelers, like Sam and her mom, are more gung-ho. They work by goals (like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro) and take opportunities as they come. Sometimes, the places they stay aren’t that nice. “Once I dropped my eyeliner down this giant black hole in the bathroom. I don’t know why there was a hole there and I didn’t ask. The woman I was staying with didn’t speak English,” Sam explained. To be a traveler, you have to really love immersing yourself in a culture.
Samantha Kichman and her mom are best friends. Though they don’t live a conventional life, they have a lot of fun traveling the world together. Safe travels from Forsyth Magazines, Sam. Be sure to send a postcard!