Experiences guide one student’s design spirit

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As a young boy, Josh Pedersen would flip through magazines and gawk at the pictures of faraway lands, letting his imagination take him across the world.

A St. George native, Pedersen is now a senior business major at Dixie State University. Today at age 25, Pedersen’s travels have spanned 25 different countries across five continents. An avid globetrotter and self-proclaimed “culture vulture,” Pedersen has grown to love exploring new lands and experiencing new cultures. He has tramped across the African Serengeti, visited the iconic European landmarks, climbed to the top of Machu Picchu, and kayaked the Phang Nga Bay in Thailand.

Pedersen has taken what he has learned about world art and culture and applied it to graphic designing. He hopes to incorporate designing into his career someday.

“I love the ability in graphic design to organize thoughts and pictures aesthetically,” Pedersen said.

Rachel Ramsay, a visual technology instructor at DSU, has noticed Pedersen’s ability to always go above and beyond on all of his projects.

“I think most of his [strength in design] comes from his experience traveling and his exposure to different types of art and culture,” Ramsay said. “It really has helped him break down all kinds of barriers and biasses.” 

Pedersen’s interest in travelling began at the age of eight when his family took their first trip to Hawaii. Since then, Pedersen would study maps and dream of all the places he would see one day.       

In his teens, Pedersen started hearing stories from travelers while working at the Marriott Hotel in St. George. Then when a friend signed Pedersen on as an independent to her exclusive travel benefits to fly free with several airlines, he finally had the chance he had been waiting for.

Pedersen dropped out of school at DSU and brought with him not much more than a nice pair of sunglasses, a credit card and a passport. He alternated between staying in hotels and hostels from city to city, recording his experiences in a travel blog and taking pictures every step of the way.

“I’ve learned so much traveling,” Pedersen said. “I’ve learned of the kindness of strangers and how happy people can be in such poverty.”

Pedersen said one of the hardest places he visited was Tanzania because of how much poverty was there.

Pedersen marveled at happiness he saw in the people of Tanzania despite their poverty and hunger. Women who walked seven miles each day carrying water on their heads were happier than many of the people he knew back at home, Pedersen said.  

“When all you have is 10 granola bars and there’s 100 hungry children around you, all you want to do is help, but you can’t do much,” Pedersen said.

Pedersen said he values relationships and friendships more than anything else. He said he most loved traveling in trains because of the ability it allowed passengers to communicate facing each other.

“I learned some of the best things about other cultures and people while riding trains,”Pedersen said. “But you also meet some really crazy people.”

Pedersen has been robbed while traveling and once lost his passport, but nothing deterred him from continuing to travel and experience new cultures.   

He said the main question everyone asks him about his travels is how he managed to pay for it all.

Working to earn money between trips and traveling every spare moment he had, Pedersen said he usually traveled abroad with less than $300 in his pocket.   

“Did I get into debt? Yes,” Pedersen said. “Did I work hard and pay it off after I got back? Yes, now I have. My advice for anyone thinking of traveling: You may never think you have enough spare money to travel. Something always gets in the way. Just pick yourself up and go.”

Pedersen said he hopes to continue to travel despite now having to pay for his flights out of pocket.

“I can honestly say I have no regrets,” Pedersen said. “I hope to always be adventurous. Live fast, die young.”