Oh hi! Welcome!
Thanks for stopping by. I’m Samantha. Everyone calls me Sam.
Anyhow! If you’re like me, the first thing you do on a new website is head right for the “About” page to get someone’s full life story before you attempt to deep dive into their millions of unrelated blog posts.
To fulfill the kind of TL;DR about page I hope to see on people’s blogs, I’m going to write about mine in as full detail as an About Page allows without it feeling torturous.
If you’re not into that and want the quick version (or if you’re a professional company and I don’t want to embarrass myself), here’s what my elevator pitch would be:
I started There She Goes Again at the end of my first year living in Korea. It focuses on solo female travel, travel advice and guides, and all the kind of information I hope to find when I’m researching somewhere new. I’m both honest with my experiences, but I also try to research other sources to help give readers the full picture. TSGA has since grown to have an emphasis on travel around Korea with countless other countries in the mix.
Okay, now for the expanded version:
1992 – There She Goes to the US
I was born one horribly humid day in southern China, the result of a passionate but doomed affair between my young Chinese mother and a poor immigrant. Somehow my parents managed to scrape enough money together to get me to an orphanage in the sprawling metropolis of Guangzhou where they left me wrapped up in a box with a note detailing my birthday.
That’s not true. At least, I don’t think it is.
I mean it could be.
I used to wonder if my father was from a different country and/or culture, which would complicate a young romance. Before I was old enough to really understand Chinese history, I also thought I was maybe the bastard offspring of the emperor. Don’t ask me how I knew “bastard offspring” but not “Communist China.”
Truthfully, nothing is known about my first three days of life except for that part about me being dropped off in front of an orphanage with a small piece of paper detailing my birthday. I mean, if we’re really being honest, the whole first few months of my life is unknown territory.
Until my malnourished and thoroughly culture-shocked mother scooped me up in her tired arms, I was just another abandoned baby sucking my fingers in a steel crib.
It took my poor mother six weeks to wade through 1992 Chinese bureaucracy before she had me safe in her arms on a plane to San Francisco. We came home to Philadelphia to much fanfare and a news crew on November 26th, 1992 — Thanksgiving Day.
I’m not making the news and fanfare part up either. CBS came and filmed us because our neighbors called them with the story. My whole family and my parents’ friends came to see. Then, of course, because there was a news crew, random people in the airport came to watch what was going on. And my mother was the last person off the plane, so you essentially had a whole plane of people hanging back to witness this holiday reunion.
1995-2008: There She Goes to Pennsylvania
When I was around three, we moved from New Jersey to Pennsylvania, which is what I consider my home state.
From then on, I was your everyday, average suburban kid. I fought with my parents, bickered with my eventual two siblings, and cooed over my perfectly antisocial cat all eleven years of her life. I had best friends who moved away or with whom I grew apart, and I was singularly rejected by every boy I ever liked as a teenager (okay that happens now too).
My travel memories are fond to pretty much only me and my family. Plenty of camping trips around Pennsylvania in our little pop-up camper. Occasional beach trips to the Jersey Shore and later the Outer Banks. Our two big trips were to Maine when I was eight and to Disney World when I was ten. Flying to Disney World was only the 2nd time I’d been on a flight since that trip back from China.
I read a lot and made up all sorts of weird stories with my Barbie dolls. I wasn’t a full-on wanderlust junkie or anything, but I did like the idea of exploring even if most of that exploration was to fictional universes I wasn’t wholly convinced weren’t real. *cough* Hogwarts *cough*
2008: There She Goes to Europe for the First Time
I got my first taste of travel during my junior year of high school, also known as the third time I’d ever been on a plane in my life.
I don’t know when I knew about our school’s Italy & Greece program, but it had to have been in either middle school or early high school. It was just a given that I was going to go on that program.
The deal I made with my parents was this: I worked part-time and had to come up with half of the money and my parents would meet me halfway. I wouldn’t go on my junior class trip to Boston or my senior class trip to Disney World. This was all fine by me because Italy & Greece sounded way better than either of those places at the time.
The program involved a bi-weekly class on Italian and Greek history and culture in the year leading up to our April departure, and then we spent 10-days traveling with EF Tours. I remember we went to Rome, Florence, Sorrento/Capri, and then over to Delphi and Athens. I was in love.
Also, fun fact — my laptop crashed the summer after this trip and I lost every single photo I hadn’t uploaded to my old blog! I stupidly didn’t know how to back things up, and I hadn’t gotten around to making an FB album…
I don’t know that I was eager to start traveling everywhere, but I certainly knew I enjoyed it. I was also a teenager making minimum wage as a lifeguard (I know I was underpaid), so it wasn’t exactly going to be easy to finance another trip over that wasn’t backpacking. Blair Waldorf was my idol, slumming it with a backpack just didn’t fit my idea of a good time.
I think I mentally just figured I’d study abroad and also visit Europe plenty in my twenties as some burgeoning fashion editor. Because that was also the dream then — fashion.
2010-2014: There She Goes to College
Whoo-whee if you could talk to 17-year-old Sam and 21-year-old Sam, you’d find a completely different person. I was a little vapid and self-centered, and, worse, I was super smart, so I found really good ways to justify myself and my behavior. I wasn’t awful, but I was also very much done with the suburbs by the time I graduated high school.
So what did I do? I went to an even smaller town for university with a total campus population not much larger than my high school. Kind of a dumb move in retrospect, but I was also going through this Louisa May Alcott phase where I was envisioning quaint fall afternoons picking apples and reading our English homework down by the river.
Little did I know I’d be running around in my skivvies with one month to college graduation and about 40lbs more than I came in with.
Anyhow, those are stories for another day.
College is when I was really bitten by the wanderlust bug. From my first summer in Seoul to my junior fall semester abroad in Madrid, traveling around Europe, I was ready to pack my things and live anywhere but the United States.
There’s a certain independence I had in Korea and Spain and living in actual cities that I didn’t have back in my little college town, and I felt about as caged in as you could get.
I kept myself busy, but I was also wildly unhappy and generally not a very nice person to be around. Some of my kinder sorority sisters might have described me as “keeping it real,” but, if we’re being honest, I was a bitch.
At some point in my senior year, I had that existential crisis that I’m sure most students get. I had no freaking clue what I wanted from my life, and I was about to leave this lil Maryland bubble with a nice $50k debt to deal with.
2014-2016: There She Goes to Korea
During the spring of my senior year, I opened an email for “Adventure Teaching.” A little while ago I had applied for Teach for America and truly butchered one of my open-ended scenario questionnaires. I, rightfully, never made it past that round, but it did put me on their mailing list for all sorts of non-licensed teaching opportunities. Most were for positions around the US, which I was wholly uninterested in, but AT was specifically for China and Korea.
I had been wanting to return to Korea since I left after my first summer, and a part of me regretted not making time to study there again. I knew teaching was an option, but I figured I’d just look into it after graduation.
Well, I applied for AT, got into their recruiting program, got my diploma that May, and by October I was on my way to a lil town called Namwon, a good 3-4 hours from Seoul depending on traffic.
I wound up living in Namwon for two years, and halfway through is when I created There She Goes Again. In case you were ever wondering why I picked this name, I’m not that good at summarizing why, but here’s a list:
- I had a study abroad Tumblr blog I called And There She Goes Again, so it was already related to travel in my head before I starting planning to launch TSGA.
- I obviously had the Sixpence None the Richer song stuck in my head when I came up with my Tumblr blog, and now you probably do too ;)
- I thought the name worked in two ways. On the one hand, it described what I hoped would be my life at least in my 20s — on the go, visiting beautiful new places, and seeing the world. On the other hand, I also read the original song was about drugs, and people always joke wanderlust is a kind of drug. In a cheesy way, think of it like being bitten by the wanderlust bug and forever having that travel fever “racing through (your) veins.”
2017 – There She Goes Around the World
Anyhow, after two years in Namwon I decided it was time to try out different things in life. I wasn’t as ready for this new chapter as I thought, and I like to say everything post-election until I returned to Korea was a bit of a fever dream.
However, I did get to see a lot of new places and spend time with good friends I hadn’t see in over two years, so I take it as a win! I also went to two continents for the first time when I went to South Africa and Chile.
2017-2018 – There She Goes to Korea Again
In the summer of 2017, I went back to Korea, traveled a smidge beforehand, and settled in Suncheon for a year. I took only one big trip to Taiwan, which I loved, but otherwise, I enjoyed having a routine and visiting or revisiting areas nearby.
Being back and having a solid routine for one more year gave me the balance I needed to make a much better game plan for my future post-Korea. Once my contract was up, I hit the ground running with travel, work, and blogging!
From September through November, I reunited with friends in Vancouver, went to a wedding at Disney World, worked with the highly underrated Kissimmee, Florida, tagged along with my friend on her press trip to New Orleans, and hung out with my friends on a van for 2 weeks in Oregon! I made it home for Thanksgiving and hung out with my family for the holidays, with just a little visit to DC and NYC for Christmas fun!
2019 – There She Goes All Around the World
After a slow down around the holidays, my first trip was to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore in February. I then returned to Korea for a cherry blossom visit and begin planning for a big spring 2020 tour. From there I returned home and briefly went up to Portland, Maine for a conference. I did get some pretty terrible news about a friend’s passing which, now that I look back, put in me a pretty big haze for a good month or two. I went to the Florida Keys and only really remember it because I wrote a bunch of blog posts right after.
June was a super busy month as I went a conference in Trento, Italy and combined it with a few days back to Spain where I re-visited Madrid and Segovia, and two weeks exploring new spots in Italy including a re-visiting Milan, seeing Cinque Terre and Verona for the first time. From here I flew to Tangier and spend 3 weeks around Morocco exploring Chefchaouen, Fes, the Sahara Desert, Marrakesh (and Ouzoud Falls), Ouarzazate, and Essaouira! It was a crazy month, and I pretty much spent all of July recovering except a really cool campaign in Cleveland with my mom.
Randomly I took a housesitting gig in Lake Tahoe, so I spent all of August hanging out with a very cute dog and just powering through a lot of work. I probably should have tried exploring more than I did!
From there I flew to Korea for all of September to finalize tour details and do some more travel and hanging out with my friends (many of whom had moved back over the summer!).
The rest of fall was spent back at home with my family with a few visits to see friends along the east coast. I lost two family members in like a two week span, so it was a more somber end to the year.
2020 – 2021 – There She Lives in Vietnam (Accidentally)
Because I had a more quiet end of the year, I had big plans for 2020! I started off the year visit Norway and Sweden and coming back to prep for a month in Saigon. I had really liked the city when I visited in 2015, and I wanted to spend more than two days to really get to know it better. Well, jokes on me because, as you know, the world went into lockdown in March 2020 andddd I’d just arrived in Vietnam.
Fast forward 16 months later, and I now consider Vietnam a bit like another home, especially Saigon. I spent the whole time getting to know the city and visiting a ton of places I’d never even heard of before this year! Just check my Vietnam section to really see all the cool spots. I was very lucky as I found a few different freelance jobs and
I wound up coming home in July 2021 after the vaccine was widely available in the US and Vietnam was beginning to experience its most serious wave yet. I laid low all of July since it was a month between shots. As soon as borders with Canada opened up in August, I reunited with my friend and did a whole trip around Quebec and Ontario!
That pretty much brings us up to speed! I’m enjoying being home with my family after so long apart and doing little trips around Pennsylvania. I have plans to go to California for a week, but otherwise I’m planning to be US-bound for the rest of the year. I have a mile-long bucket list for Pennsylvania, and I’m excited to explore!
So what am I all about?
I guess what I’m trying to tell you with my story is simply – this blog is about someone just traveling the world and building a life online. The world is too big and interesting to stay put in one place, especially now when I have so few restrictions or obligations.
Back when I was starting this blog, I decided its tagline should be “Escape to the world, not from it.” Don’t be afraid of what you don’t know, and just go. See the places you read about in history books, walk the same paths as your favorite authors, and discover just how much the world has to offer!
For more on me:
- My monthly recaps
- Do You Travel Like an Extroverted Introvert?
- Slow Travel vs. Fast Travel | Where Do You Fall?
For more on Korea:
I don’t know if you noticed, but my biggest country love is for South Korea. Living here for 3 years + the summer stint in Seoul, I’ve been able to see a lot of new places and travel quite a bit. For now, I want to return at least every year or every other year to travel around!
- 102 Unbelievably Beautiful Places in Korea
- Korea Trip Planner: ALL the Logistics
- 50 South Korea Travel Tips
- How to Spend 2 Weeks in Korea: 4 Itineraries
- A Guide to Winter in Korea: Survival Tips
Quick Fun Facts About Me
- I love learning languages, though I’m not very disciplined. One of my majors in college was Spanish, and I’m forever trying to maintain or get back to a fluency. My next best language is Korean, which has it’s ups and downs depending on if I’m using it regularly. And then I started studying Vietnamese while in Saigon, but I’m a little embarrassed of trying to speak it too much because it’s not that good.
- I’ve always been a bookworm since I read my first book on my own – The Bear Next Door. Naturally, my other major in college was English.
- I’ve wanted to pursue a lot of different career paths, and I’m basically doing them all with blogging – writer, marketer, public relations, editor, stylist, photographer, and more!
- Sitcoms are my favorite thing to watch on TV. The ones I put on repeat are: Parks & Rec, Modern Family, New Girl, and Boy Meets World.
- I have such a tendency to go down Internet rabbit holes! When I was in school, I could turn them into independent studies like my obsession with Greek mythology and the Islamic history of Spain. Also used to read just about everything I could on the Tudor dynasty (pre-HBO show!) and Anastasia Romanov. It’s why it takes me a while to write full blog posts, I wind up going on all sorts of directions reading about the history of different landmarks. (And often start imagining stories that I never commit to paper).
- I have been a Taylor Swift ride or die since 2006 when I curiously clicked on “Teardrops on My Guitar” in the iTunes store.
- In general, I really love pop music including K-pop, though I’m more of a 2nd gen fan. It’s not as fun to keep up with groups when they’re suddenly younger than you. Some singers or bands I often just go and shuffle their “This is…” playlist are: Carly Rae Jepsen, Beyonce, Mamamoo, Selena Gomez, Little Mix, George Ezra, IU, and probably more I’m forgetting!
Anyhow, welcome again! I hope you enjoy TSGA, and if you still have questions, feel free to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you’re a brand or business hoping to collaborate, just check out my work with me page!