Tell us about yourself!
My name is Kelley Akhiemokhali. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas and blog at immigratingwithapurpose.com. The name came because my father is a Nigerian immigrant. I’ve been fascinated with immigrant and migrant stories since adolescence. Now that I have chosen to work abroad myself, I’m tracking my own experience as an immigrant in a loose sense of the word.
Where do you currently live and what is your occupation?
I currently live in Valencia, Venezuela. I am an English and Social Studies teacher.
What is the first country you traveled to internationally? What were your impressions?
The first country I traveled to was Australia in 2007. I was extremely nervous when I sat at the gate waiting for my plane to take off. I remember thinking what am I doing? I had never been out of the country with family or friends, let alone by myself, and I choose to go to Australia…as far as you can get from the US. I went there to study abroad. Australia is a crown jewel in my memories. It was such a beautiful and happy time in my life. The people are very warm and the country is beautiful. My friends and family thought that I would move back there after graduating. I actually have never returned for a visit. A part of me is scared to return because I don’t think I can “top” that experience. I don’t want anything to sully the beauty that was Australia. I’ll return one day though.
When did you first realize you were bitten by the travel bug?
After a few weeks in Melbourne, Australia I realized I had the travel bug. I was so excited to go around the city and just experience as much of the culture as I could. I think my need to travel really came on full force when a group of us went to New Zealand during Spring Break and drove around the South Island. The road trip was fun, we gelled extremely well, and I just got to see another beautiful place. You arrive in some spaces and you’re just humbled by nature, beauty, the people, and the food, and you’re just thankful. I need that feeling. I love that feeling. It’s like a re-set button for me to be able to connect in some way to a different culture or country.
Do you have a travel mantra?
I do not have a travel mantra per se, but I do have some guidelines I follow when deciding whether or not I can travel. I try to travel to international locales where friends are to save on housing. I travel when I’ve saved up for a trip, and I travel when it moves me. To date, I’ve never regretted the money I’ve spent on a trip. I might regret buying some material thing, but buying a plane ticket to a foreign place? Never.
If you could spontaneously pack up tomorrow and head anywhere in the world, where would you go and what would you do?
That’s a really tough question! I just started traveling so there are still so many places I want to see and get to know. I think Italy or Turkey would top my list right now. I want to visit Italy because of the food. I’ve always loved Italian food. I honestly don’t know why I’m drawn to Turkey. When I think of Turkey I think of warm colors and just have a soothing sense about the place. It being at the nexus of Europe and the Middle East and its long history with other peoples due to trade and travel make me think it will be a wonderful place to visit.
To follow Kelley's adventures, check out her insightful blog (Im)migrating With A Purpose!