Spoiler Alert: I don’t really have any expectations…

By Natalie Cheng

COLUMBIA, Missouri — The only context I have for travel is primarily through family vacations. Yes, I was lucky enough to have wanderlusting parents who took their kids along for the ride, but I can’t say I’ve ever really had a professional experience in a completely foreign place. (I specify “completely” because I have had a few professional and pseudo-professional experiences in China…but my entire extended family lives there and I grew up with annual visits, plus I at least mostly speak the language).

This is me and my brother on our last family vacation. I like to climb things.

This is me and my brother on our last family vacation. I like to climb things.

I’m looking forward to having an immersive experience, where I will be interacting with locals and my job will be to speak to them and tell their stories.

My initial interest in pursuing journalism–particularly feature and documentary-style journalism–started with a culture shock experience, and I hope to get back to that. As I’ve grown into my junior year of college, I’ve found myself discovering more and more opportunities and facets of my interest, but my goals and vision for the future become less and less focused; all of this, of course, as the deadline approaches and the necessity for clear goals becomes dire. I am hoping this trip will help invigorate and perhaps guide my ambitions.

I am always up for all new experiences. I live and breathe for them.

This is all incredibly vague. Perhaps intentionally so, because I’m not sure that I want to go into this trip with distinct expectations. I kind of want to just let it all unfold.

Except… the animals. I expect to see animals and to love them and play with them. I. Love. Animals. And food. Food, too.

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