“A Fascinating Lesson That Every College Graduate Must Learn About”
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” I understand that this is a tiring cliche that has been told a million times before, but there’s something unique about Phil Rosen’s travel stories across much of Asia. It’s not just any simple account of someone’s journey after graduating from college. It fiercely challenges the notion of what we should do with our lives after college. Whether a graduate joins the military, finds a job, attends grad school, or travels around the world, Everywhere But Home does a phenomenal job questioning our decision making. This is a must-read for anyone who is at this point in their lives.
Every chapter perfectly builds up to the main point Rosen is trying to tell his readers: Don’t aim for security, aim for adventure. This might seem obvious for recent college graduates who are typically in their early twenties, but we are often convinced that we should go seek a job or immediately pursue our dreams, as if our degree could suddenly thrust us into making $100k+ a year. Unfortunately, that isn’t typically the case. I’ve heard countless stories of friends who I thought would go for a certain path after they graduated, but never went in that direction. It’s not feasible to immediately expect that you will acquire your dream job or a job that pays you to make a living. To make matters worse, this dilemma is much more exacerbated today during a worldwide pandemic where tens of millions of Americans have lost their jobs or travel is heavily restricted. In other words, we are misled that things will be great after college when no one seems to speak about what you want to be.
Rosen calls this simple concept “identity.” A lot of college students struggle to search for their “identity” starting the day after graduation. They must start a new life not as a student, but as something else. Admittedly, I had this issue too after my graduation. I identified myself as a good writer with aspirations to go to law school, but I didn’t know how I would go about it or what my long-term goals were except to go to another school and study what I enjoyed doing. I struggled to get a job that fit my preferences. Of course, I never believed to make hundreds of thousands with a bachelor’s degree. Money was never in my mind at first. The question Rosen wants us to answer is what do you want to do to make yourself happy for the next 40 years before approaching retirement age? 40 years is about twice the life I have lived, yet many seem to falsely claim that you will be set after college to live your dreams. What we must do first is seek our “identity.” My “identity” at the moment is being an author who wants to write the next big novel series that becomes a million-dollar franchise like The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, The Lord of The Rings, etc. If it takes me 10 or 20 years, so be it. It takes authors several years to get to that level of fame. I have an itch to attend grad school or law school more than before because I want to share my work and meet new people.
Rosen speaks passionately about the different countries he has traveled to. Not only do his words urge me to travel somewhere outside of California, but I have the sudden urge to meet interesting people who have distinct struggles. Paradoxically, they feel real while simultaneously feeling like something straight out of a fictional novel. It’s not that they’re exaggerated, rather, they feel like an incredible fictional story that would make for a compelling Hollywood movie script. It’s as if Rosen actually met these fictional characters in real life. Admittedly, the story of Amit reminded me of a key story in the most recent Hunger Games book, A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. Amit, like in the Districts, is from a lower class in the caste system that pigeonholes people’s lives in India. Amit once had a lover whom he was secretly in love with, but they couldn’t show their love because they belonged to a different social class. When fiction becomes reality, they truly become the most powerful stories to be written. Rosen does a masterful job detailing Amit’s story which is akin to an Oscar winning scene from a great movie.
Ultimately, Everywhere But Home is nearly a perfect read. My only complaint is that it ends, although to be fair, COVID-19 hasn’t exactly made travel easy for more content. For me personally, this was a nice change of pace after consuming various stories that were typically depressing, on top of the year 2020 with a pandemic and civil unrest widespread throughout the United States. Regardless, this book must be ready by every college student, period. If you don’t, you might regret it several years down the line. I’m glad I did, just a few years removed from my college years. From here on out, I will always remind myself of what I want my end goal to be. There’s no need to rush everything. Although I want to travel, it’s impossible at the moment with an ongoing pandemic, and I don’t have the exact budget to be spending so much money. Nevertheless, I undoubtedly will try my best to be Everywhere But Home.
Before I end this review, I want to give a shout out to Phil Rosen because I’ve met him in person back at San Diego State University when we worked at the Writing Center. Looking back, it was the best decision I made, by working at the Writing Center and meeting a fellow author who has a similar passion as I do. I seriously miss those days hanging out and talking about our unique lives and backgrounds. Meeting new friends in college has helped me see the world from their eyes. This exposure has not only made me better as a person, but better as a human being who can learn to respect everyone’s political, religious, and social views without being blatantly stubborn about those that I do not agree with. So thank you Phil for being a part of my college years and I hope to work with you more as we share our writing with the world.
Overall Score: 9.5/10
-Interesting cultures that were vividly explained.
-A mix of humorous and serious conversations.
-A simple story that delivers an important message about life in general.
-Compelling real-life stories.
-I didn’t want it to end, but it did.