How Did I Get Here?

Exploring the power of travel to shape a person’s outlook on life, perception, and identity.

When I began traveling internationally I became fascinated with lifestyles and the inherent differences and similarities between people: a custom in one place is absent elsewhere, rituals in one culture are performed differently in another, and some circumstances have no frame of reference whatsoever. I learned a lot from talking with people, seeing how they lived, walking their streets. Looking at a collection of photographs and journals from places I’ve traveled over 20 years, and seeing them together as a single journey rather than individual trips, got me thinking—how does travel shape someone’s outlook on life, perception, and even identity?

How Did I Get Here? explores the relationship between foreign travel and identity. Over 900 photographs serve as a starting point for visual communication, used to build a literal “wall of images” in the physical gallery space. Seen together, they suggests a cumulative effect of travel. On a podcast series, stories and conversations with people who are from some of the countries I’ve visited reveal their personal truths. A narrative created on Instagram (@EverywhereCyndie) adds new context in the digital/social space. Viewers can share their own stories and travel experiences through a short form on the project website.

The ultimate goal is to create a bigger conversation that becomes a catalyst for connection, inquisitiveness, and more understanding between people everywhere. This project is a first step.

How Did I Get Here? is my interactive thesis project, created during a year-long immersive program at International Center of Photography in New York City.

Project website

How Did I Get Here? Poster ©Cyndie Burkhardt.