It seems like just yesterday I was sitting at my kitchen table researching summer abroad programs and now I’ve turned my dream into a reality. I had an ambitious goal of leaving the country right after my first year of college and, even though it is not the most traditional approach, it was the best thing I could have done.
I wanted to travel as early as possible because I know I only really get four years of college and I won’t always have such huge chunks of free-time as I do now with summer break. Additionally, I don’t really know if I want to take a whole semester to go abroad because I love racing both cross-country in the fall and track in the spring. If I went to another country I would have to sacrifice a competitive season. It seems like with each semester of college, breaks get busier with internships and work so, now, at the very beginning was a perfect time to travel.
Because my school is more structured for semester abroad programs I had to do most of the research and planning on my own instead of with an adviser. I had to take ownership of my summer and put effort in to make it all work. It did seem stressful during the application and funding stage but I didn’t give up when it got rough and made it happen. The Corvias Foundation played a huge role by funding the tuition of the program even though it was nontraditional. All I had to do was reach out and ask for a little help.
Jumping into such a unique opportunity right out of the gate opened my eyes to the possibilities of world travel. Although I have traveled a lot because of my military background, this was my first time flying internationally and visiting a country without my family. Now I know that not only can I do it but I can do it well. I’m thankful that the program I participated in was pretty structured, organized, and short so I could ease into solo foreign travel. After this experience, I am ready to go abroad again but this time with more confidence in myself which will allow me to do things more independently and not rely as much on others to plan my adventures.
I was kind of nervous that the trip would not live up to my expectations because it looked so amazing on online but it far exceeded all expectations. This was largely due to the people I met along the way. In general, I consider myself a more introverted person who takes a while to warmup to people so it surprised me how close I got to the other students and the staff around me after 10 days. Although we come from different backgrounds, we all share a common interest and passion for the natural world. It was amazing how well we all worked together during the academic and adventure aspects of the program. Now I have connections all across the country and even some across the world. Like I said before, I made friendships that I do not plan on ending anytime soon. I would have never met these people if it wasn’t for The GREEN Program and I am so thankful that I did!
My advice to anyone considering going abroad, especially those who are a bit younger, is to just do it! Seeing a new country, hearing a new language, and experiencing new things is a priceless and unique experience. If an opportunity presents itself, go and run with it. You only get one life to live so make it full of as much adventure as you can as soon as you can.
I’ve enjoyed sharing my experiences with you and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about this grand adventure.
Þakka þér fyrir
(Thah-ka thyer fi-rir)