Killarney National Park

A Bon Voyage Letter to My Sister

Being an older sister is a tough job if you’re doing it right. Sisterhood brings a lifetime mix of emotions that can’t be replicated through any other relationship. I can vividly remember being a child, about 2 1/2, pacing up and down the hallways of my parents’ home with the powder blue fuzzy carpet beneath my feet. Some of my little pre-school friends were beginning to become older siblings and I would pray to Baby Jesus (this was how I addressed him then) that my parents could give me a baby sister. I prayed this prayer – the same one – for months, pacing up and down the halls. It was a rather dramatic thing for a child, but it was mostly selfish because I thought little sisters were like real-life dolls. I suppose in some ways they are.

I was barely four years old, but I remember the day my sister was born. I remember sitting next to my mom in the hospital bed, holding her, so excited about getting to be a big sister. There was a good decade or more there, from ages 10 to 20 for me, maybe longer, where I don’t think I appreciated the sister relationship and dynamic. We seemed to have little in common, with different personalities and different views on life. At the time I don’t think I fully appreciated the fact that people really do fundamentally develop at different rates and discover things in their own time. This was true for my sister – she had to do things at her own pace and preferred to discover things on her own versus taking any advice I wanted to give.

On my wedding day, in Anguilla
On my wedding day, in Anguilla
Killarney National Park
In Killarney National Park on the Ring of Kerry.
At Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas
At Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas
Tela, Honduras
Dining in Tela, Honduras
At Muckross House in Killarney
At Muckross House in Killarney
At the Louvre in Paris
At the Louvre in Paris
Overlooking the Vlatva River in Prague
Overlooking the Vlatva River in Prague
#SibTrip at Induras Resort in Honduras
#SibTrip at Indura Resort in Honduras
At the Old Storehouse in Dublin
At the Old Storehouse in Dublin

When we began talking about the idea of her teaching English overseas, the excitement I heard in her voice was encouraging. Where I always had a wild heart wanting to endlessly explore the globe, she always appreciated the comforts and familiarity of home more than I ever really had. Yet during this conversation it became clearer that she was ready to get out of her comfort zone and try something new; to plunge into a new world entirely with new experiences as an expat overseas.

A few months ago she officially committed to a year-long contract in South Korea, and today is the day that she departs to begin an exciting new chapter of her life.

She’ll begin with two weeks exploring Thailand, from Bangkok to Chiang Mai to Phuket, and then will settle into her new normal, a new life in South Korea. I couldn’t be more proud or more excited for her to begin this new journey. For me, moving overseas was an enlightening and life changing experience and I can only hope that her experience abroad is as impactful. Seeing the world from a new perspective and meeting people from across the globe is truly an inspirational thing, and despite the sometimes tough realities of beginning a new life, the value cannot be overstated.

To my sister: I wish you the best in this journey. It may not always be easy, but it will be worth it! Whether or not you recognize it at the time, the memories and experiences you will have over the next year will be with you for life and will continue to shape your thoughts and perspectives as the years go on. Not to overburden you with the sage advice of an older sister, but perhaps the single most important thing I have learned is this: Enjoy the journey.

More about Shannon Kircher

Shannon Kircher is the founder and editor of The Wanderlust Effect, formerly The Traveling Scholar. Founded in 2009, she has continued to document her international escapes as an expat in Europe and the Caribbean. She is a former resident of London and San Francisco and now calls the island of Anguilla home. In addition to The Wanderlust Effect, Shannon is the Director of Marketing for the Frangipani Beach Resort and is on the Board of Directors of the Omololu International School in Anguilla.