Jo here, in Londontown, writing to you from an uncomfortable seat in the corner of a coffee shop, converted into a wine bar at night. Since it’s past 7PM, it’s officially wine and write time, because yes, that is an official time deemed in my daily life.
I decided to skim through my inbox, to get a little inspiration from all of you for our ongoing blog series that focuses on YOU ALL. Cause it ain’t always about us. Plus, it’s always a shameless way to plug the fact you can, and should be booking flights on our site. shutupandgo.travel/flights ;).
While spam emails nearly drowned me, I was lifted up by this month’s We Fly High feature,someone who bluntly calls herself first world poor – clearly catching my attention. The words were some I appreciated, because the realness in that statement is something a lot of us can relate to.
Who and how old are you?
So my name is Cemberli (like Kimberly) Grant and I’m a 19 year old college student. I’m a writer and I’m learning to embrace all of the struggle that comes with that title.
Girl, I feel you. A creative job is rewarding spiritually, but by no means the easiest to be paid for. Not impossible though!
Where were you born, raised?
I was born in Mississippi but raised in the suburbs around Atlanta.
Nice, down South! I love me some Outkast, so Atlanta has a soft spot in my heart. Plus all the black history there is a must see.
Where do you currently live now?
I attend college in Atlanta so I live there now.
Let’s get into this, tell me more about your background?
I grew up first-world poor. We struggled a lot, but still had most of the things we needed like cell phones and food, but we relied on a lot of assistance as well. I’m actually very grateful for how difficult my childhood was sometimes because I can put things into perspective now. I feel dumb complaining about the ratio of coffee to cream in my Starbucks drinks or how much oil is in my Alfredo when I remember things I went through as a kid.
Growing up with “less than” is always a way to grow thick skin. I feel you on that. After all, our privilege is absolutely relative.
Did anyone in your family travel?
No one in my family traveled. My older brother moved out when he turned 16 and went to Iowa with his dad but that’s about it. Also it’s IOWA. So no, no one in my family traveled.
Haha at “Iowa!” If there’s not spirit of adventure in the family, it makes it more difficult to actually shut up and go.
With that being said, how and why did you decide to go to China of all places?
The professor that designed the program for China did a presentation in my class and on a whim I decided to apply. He kept emphasizing how many scholarships were available so it was like there was no reason not to try it. Once I was accepted I just knew that I would have to make this trip a reality. Even if that meant selling my labor until the point of exhaustion and saving every penny.
Good for you! That’s one of the things in college so many people take for granted. The fact there ARE scholarships out there that make it possible, even if we are “first world poor.”
How did you balance the travel with your school work?
Balancing my school work with the trip was so difficult. The trip was planned for the end of the semester, so I spent the entirety of the semester stressed about paying for the trip. My schoolwork fell to the wayside, which was terrible, but by the time we actually left for the trip I had gotten things back on track. It was a study abroad, so there were two classes attached to the program and those were very easy. My professor was also just really amazing and he wanted us to finish the lessons before we left so we could enjoy ourselves while there.
My perspective is that even if it’s hard, it’ll get done if you really want it to. Love that your professor was on your side – cause let’s be real, that’s not usually the case!
What has traveling made you change?
Before traveling, I would consume myself with unnecessary material things or get really caught up over minor inconveniences, like school. (Because failing a test sucks, but if I’m planning a weekend trip to D.C it doesn’t really matter) After traveling though, I realized that it was really one of the only things I wanted to do. Whatever career or job I choose has to be one that allows me the freedom to travel, not every destination has to be across the world. I can explore my city or states near me. These were just a few of the things I discovered after China.
We’re big advocates for not having to get on a plane to travel. So the nearby city and state travel is key to satisfy the travel itch!
Last question, what’s your best travel tip for travelers like you?
I would advise other travelers like me to make it a priority to see the world if that’s really what you want to do. Even if your friends or family aren’t game to join you, that’s fine. This gives you the freedom to see and do exactly what you want. The world is so big and there are so many different things to see and experience. If you really want to see everything there should be no reason why you can’t!
If you want to be featured on We Fly High, send an email with the subject line “We Fly High,” to firstname.lastname@example.org.