Regarding travel, I believe it is extremely important for people to grasp any opportunity they can. There must be so much to embrace that other parts of the world have to offer. Growing up, I was not as fortunate as those around me when it came to school vacations. My dad becomes filled with fear when he thinks about stepping foot on an airplane, and we were not as financially stable to be able to leave our home so much. However, as I grew older, I was driven by a particular instinct to involve myself with opportunities to travel independently.
My first experience outside of the United States was a school trip to Italy for spring break during my junior year of high school. I couldn’t wait to tell my parents that I would be able to explore the revitalized culture of my ancestral roots and that I would be doing so with some of my closest friends. Although there were a couple chaperones on the trip, my parents were hesitant to let me go without them. It took a lot of convincing, but by the end of it, I was able to spend eight days traveling down the boot of Italy while exploring ancient ruins, meeting new people, taking tours, and filling up on authentic pasta and gelato. I did not want to come back to the reality of a consistent lifestyle in New York so quickly.
Shortly after, it was time to apply for college. My parents made it pretty clear in the beginning that they did not want me to travel for school. Their ideal scenario was for me to choose one that was close-by, or at least driving distance. This made me frustrated; I was not only looking for a new school, but a chance to gain independence in a fresh environment surrounded by different people. I still applied for a number of schools all over the country, with a particular interest in my current one, the University of Florida. When my mom and I visited, I was not the only one who fell in love with the campus and who was able to picture myself here. We learned more about the kinesiology major that would be a great fit for my career goals, the number of students on campus, the diversity on campus, and the focus on athletics that the students hold with much pride. It was a few weeks later when I walked into my house after high school and my mom told me that we would be able to make it work. Since I committed to the University of Florida, I do not have any regrets. It was intimidating at first, but I have come to appreciate every friendship I have made and every opportunity I was able to come across on my own. I consider myself a more independent and mature individual because of this experience.
Currently a junior seeking my bachelor degree, I am ecstatic to have the opportunity to not only study abroad next semester at the University of Western Australia, but intern for an Australian Rules football team. This experience will provide direct patient care hours and make me a more competitive applicant for physician assistant school. However, as a result of my participation in this program, I primarily hope to become even more independent as I travel alone to live on the opposite side of the world for a semester. I am looking forward to growing accustomed to fresh perspectives and ways of living. I strive to let this opportunity take its natural course and teach me things that will further my personal development. Consequently, I am sure I will learn more about myself and how I live in comparison to those across the world. I’m sure this aspect will make me humble and appreciative towards everything I’m fortunate to have in my own life as well as eager to learn more about the evolvement of different cultures. I also hope to form new friendships with those whom I ordinarily would not have the chance to meet if not for this experience. Starting a new school alone will give me the opportunity to branch out and meet those with similar interests and academic goals. Additionally, I hope to make the most of my experience abroad as I immerse myself in a typical Australian day. Since there is no language barrier, it will be exciting to learn new outlooks and ideas. I also strive to become more fearless throughout this experience. I want to grasp future opportunities in reach without question or hesitation. I believe an experience like this will make me much more willing to embrace what life has to offer in the future. Lastly, I hope to grow more mature from this program. I can only imagine how I will adapt to everything this opportunity will be fulfilled with and how I will return to the United States embracing a new worldly outlook.
I know I have a lot of work ahead of me, but I also know it will be worth it. I am very passionate about discovering what the rest of the world has to offer, and I know that I would not get this experience to immerse myself in a different culture for this much time if I do not grasp it now. I am looking forward to my trip to New Zealand during my semester break as well, where I will be immersed in many breath-taking sites and adventures. From the Franz Josef glacier, just near the highest pass across the Southern Alps, to Queenstown, the ‘Adventure Capital of the World’, there is so much to explore and learn from in this country as well. I strive to make the most out of this opportunity and allow it to teach me things that I may not learn otherwise. The character traits I will develop and enhance during this upcoming semester will continue to shape me and I know I will keep with me for the rest of my life.
By Nicole L.