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viewpoint

My experience abroad

| Monday, September 12, 2016

Growing up, I’ve always had a passion for traveling to places I’d never been before. I didn’t realize just how strong that passion could be until my sophomore year of high school when I decided to go on a school trip to London, Paris and Barcelona.

Honestly, going on this trip was the last thing I wanted to do with my spring break. Spend more time with my teachers and give up the freedom to do whatever I wanted to do during my break? No thanks. On top of that was the fact that I had never been out of the country before, let alone without my parents. I was always the kind of girl who got homesick easily and getting on a plane and flying eight hours overseas was not a fact that comforted me. Yet there I was packing my bags just weeks after my friend convinced me, “It will be fun!”

She was right. It was a blast. I had never experienced such freedom and simultaneous anxiety as when I was thrown into a foreign country where I didn’t know the language or have any bearings at all and was given “free time” to explore the city at only 16 years old.

I will never forget the time my friends and I had to sit on the side of the building, Harrods, while eating our lunch because every time we sat down somewhere, we were told we weren’t allowed to sit there. Even on the sidewalks. Or how jealous I was when the upperclassmen came back one night from sneaking out to Piccadilly Circus to meet Theo James and Shailene Woodley during the “Divergent” premiere, a once in a lifetime opportunity. Or when we got to see the inside of Notre Dame de Paris, a place of serene beauty and so meaningful to me. Or when we met the Justin Bieber of France, Quentin Bieber, on our train. He’s real, I’m not kidding, look him up.

All of these mini adventures and more combined to form my budding love of traveling abroad. But it’s not just about the sightseeing. Traveling abroad led me to make new friends and life-long connections with peers from my school and other schools that I never would have had the chance to talk to if I hadn’t gone on this trip. It gave me a sense of freedom and independence that has helped me get through my first three weeks of college. With great anticipation, I eagerly await my opportunity to jump at a semester, or even a year, abroad in a country where I can relive my dreams and fill the void in my heart that is for traveling.

Contact Emma O’Brien at eobrien03@saintmarys.edu

 

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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