I suppose the saying is right: Mom really does know best. It took me a three-and-a-half month voyage around the world to come to that conclusion, but here I am admitting that she has been right all along.
Santa Barbara is a remarkable place to live, perhaps one of the best in the world. It is a beautiful city with a sun that only takes a couple vacation days a year, comparable to that of tropical Hawaii. The people walk with a bounce in their step, acknowledging one another with friendly gestures that I saw so often in places like Takoradi, Ghana. The combination of scenic mountains, lush vegetation, golden beaches and sophisticated city life seem to make for a Mauritian-like natural habitat united with the urbanization and cleanliness of Singapore. Indeed, it is a remarkable place to live and one that I am very fortunate to call home.
I would not have described Santa Barbara like this before Semester at Sea. Before this voyage, I took Santa Barbara for granted. I have lived there my entire life and never thought my home had any special quality. Sure, Santa Barbara has good weather, but so do many other places around the world. It isn’t the only one, and I absolutely did not want to stay in Santa Barbara forever. I wanted to explore the world, trekking the Sahara and climbing the Swiss Alps. I wanted to leave Santa Barbara for good and settle in Europe, or maybe even South America. These places are mysterious to me, and I believed they would offer a new and exciting lifestyle that I wouldn not have if I stayed in Santa Barbara my entire life.
As this voyage comes to an end, I have become more aware of the value of this place I dub home. Now I have seen the world. Sure, not all of the world, but I have traveled to multiple continents, hiked through indigenous villages and dabbled with understanding various cultures. This experience has been fantastic, and the countries I have visited have left me awe-struck and profoundly changed. But they have also left me with a conviction that I do live in a city that puts all others to shame. I live in a city that combines the well-being of Singapore, the infrastructure of Cape Town and the majesty of Vietnam. And poverty does not run rampant here as it does in many of the developing countries we visited.
When I return home, I will look out my balcony across the gorgeous landscape and see Santa Barbara with a new set of eyes. This is where I live. This is where my heart lies. It seems my mom was right all along: I do live in the best city in the world.
— Joshua Kohansamad
Written December 8, 2010