I have already mentioned my two week trip to Spain in a previous blog, but in this entry I want to emphasize the importance of traveling abroad while young.
I have always been one to be adventurous. Maybe, it hasn’t always been present on the surface… but I have always wanted to get out and explore the world. I have been traveling since I was of a very young age, and I would rather be away during the summer time than I would be at home! And that is not because I have a bad home life, because I don’t! I just like to meet new people and explore new things. This is why I was so quick to jump on the opportunity to travel abroad while in high school.
From the day I found out they were taking a trip to Spain, in June of 2011, I started picking up the paperwork and pestering my mom about it. Of course, being my mother, she pushed back. She was not ready to let her little girl go to a foreign country, across the VERY large Atlantic Ocean, in a place where she had absolutely no way to keep me safe. However, with a little encouragement from my stepdad and grandparents, she reluctantly agreed. I was so excited, even though I was scared.
This was going to be a completely new experience for me. Every time I had traveled previously, my mom or some family member had been there with me. For this trip, this was not the case. I was going to be alone. (Well not alone, but with people I didn’t know very well, people who weren’t my family members.) This aspect was always present in my mind, but it was being covered up by all of my excitement. It didn’t really occur to me that I wouldn’t be able to communicate with my mom and family everyday like I was use to, for two weeks! It sunk in when I was on my way to the airport, after saying my goodbyes.
As soon as I arrived in Spain, it was like I was in a completely different world. It is a different world over there. They speak a different language; there are different and unfamiliar people; things aren’t as developed over there. The thing I liked most about being in Spain, was that I was in my own bubble for two weeks. I didn’t have to worry about anyone else but myself. I didn’t have to worry about what my family was doing, or what my friends were doing back home. I just had to worry about myself.
Being sixteen, in a foreign country, where they speak a different language is definitely a change. However, it really opened my eyes. I realized that people aren’t as fortunate over there as we are here, in the United States. The culture was completely different as well. They did things differently; they said things differently. Things we would think were CRAZY or OBSCURE over here, they think are completely normal. This took some getting used to, but I adjusted well. I learned what was appropriate to say and what was not.
I learned a lot about myself on this trip. I learned that if I set my mind to something, I can accomplish it. Yes, I had many fears about going away for that length of time, but as soon as I got there, I put away all of my fears and let myself have a great time! I am so thankful I did this, because I made long lasting friendships, gained experiences that few people get to experience, and most importantly, I grew up. Going on this trip at such a young age, really opened my eyes and made me a stronger person. I am so grateful to all of the people who made this trip possible. THANK YOU.