Prior to making the decision to study abroad, I rarely traveled. Traveling around the world was something my parents’ planned for post-retirement. They believed and instilled in me, “Work hard now and enjoy later…” but transitioning into college, I found this ideology problematic. I met so many peers who shared stories like: being housed by a family in Peru, or living in a jungle in Thailand for a week, or even being blessed by the Pope at the Vatican.
This excited the suppressed wanderlust in me. I had been blessed with so much at this point in my life but I always felt this void. One of which, I could not describe. When the Education Abroad Program was presented to me, I thought, “How fucking amazing would that be to finally travel but nooo, I can’t afford this.” As the deadline grew closer, I began to really reflect on this opportunity. I believe traveling is a dream every person on this earth has at some point, but realistically, it’s only attainable for few. I began to take my parents for example, life got in the way before they could reap the fruits of their labor. My dad’s illness began a few years before his retirement, ultimately preventing any travel.
Seeing this upset first hand, I had a new perspective. If I passed up on this opportunity of a lifetime, I would always wonder, “what if?” I did not want to live like that. I finally told myself: I’m still young, healthy enough to do this, and I had so much yet to discover, so many new places, cultures, and above all…myself.
I was extremely curious if it was in fact traveling that would make me feel whole.
I remember reading this saying: “Travel far enough, you meet yourself”
Soon after, I was convinced…I needed this adventure. To me, this was not only an opportunity to enjoy another part of the world. I wanted to use this time for quite the opposite, really. I wanted to be uncomfortable, test my limits, and eventually become familiar with the unfamiliar. I always relied on my family to help me out in shitty situations but “When in Rome,” I would have none other but myself to figure it all out.
I decided on Rome, Italy. It had been a fantasy of mine to visit, ever since I first watched Mary-Kate & Ashley’s – When in Rome, The Lizzy McGuire Movie, and Under the Tuscan Sun, (HA!) Italy’s cultural richness intrigued me.
I will write about my actual time abroad in a later post but what I will conclude with is that the decision to study/live abroad was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I felt the most alive in those 4 months than I ever have. This trip gave me life, it changed my life, and most importantly, it was the healthiest thing I could have done for myself. Don’t let the fear of the unknown, or job responsibilities, or your financial situation stop you from traveling. Money will come and go but your health and the ability to just pick up and go while we are still young…won’t always be there. If the opportunity arises, do yourself a favor and buy that plane ticket!