As the new year begins and I prepare to return to UNC, I hope to hold on to the memories, emotions, and growth that 2017 brought. As the saying goes... new year, new me... or I maybe just - new year, same me but with a new mindset?
I think we can all agree that 2017 was a bit of a rollercoaster ride. People fought and came together over political, social, and economic issues much larger than themselves. However, 2017 has officially ended and while reflecting on my past year I realized 2017 produced some of the best moments of my life despite its many dismays.
I was afforded many moments of growth, success, exploration, and reflection. I will carry such memories throughout my life. Honestly, a majority of these moments occurred while abroad. I can’t fathom my life now without having such an experience to fondly look back on. I went abroad hoping to push my boundaries, see the world through different lenses, and connect with people whom I may never have the chance to. I achieved all of those goals in the span of four months and hope to never forget the euphoric feeling that each new day in Europe brought.
While abroad, many of my common daily responsibilities became obsolete. I was greeted with more hours of free time - time which I spent exploring my new surroundings. My usual school-stressed-self got a break from the madness and ideally grew to understand a new level of "knowledge". Not the cookie-cutter textbook versions of intelligence, but a change in mindset.
The place - Barcelona boasts intricate architecture, warm days in the sun, festive nightlife, functional and friendly public spaces, endless assortments of tapas and a new personality in every district. I can’t wait until I revisit this city I now consider a home.
The people - charismatic locals, caring host mothers, passionate teacher and staff, new friends from abroad and those who tagged along from school. These people shaped my experience for the better. I learned to interact with very people with different personalities, cultural backgrounds, opinions, and languages. It’s a skill I hope to use far into the future.
While I used to say I was a huge advocate for travel as a learning tool, my stance on this has been slightly altered. I now believe that the most effective learning tool is immersing yourself in a different culture - whether it be domestically or internationally. Put yourself in another’s shoes (as the saying goes) - not just to try them on but to walk in them - break them in. Let your foot mold to the shoe or the shoe mold to your foot. Or in other words, take some of what you learn and apply it to your own life, and perhaps leave a part of you there. Make an influence. I sure hope I did.
I would love to thank the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for introducing me to this opportunity, IES Abroad for making the adventure so fantastic, and every human being who I met along the way for shaping my experience and in turn, my life.
More Blogs From This Author
<p>My parents are ski instructors and chased Winter seasons between Australia and the U.S. I was born in Australia, but at six-months-old, I began traveling between each country. I was educated in both countries, transferring between schools in Aspen, Colorado and Port Macquarie, New South Wales every semester. I have been very fortunate to travel to various parts of the world, all while gaining an appreciation for differing cultures and discovered the power of travel as a learning tool.</p>