I have been longing to have an answer to the recently frequently posed question, “Where are you wanting to study abroad?” for a loooong while now.
Before coming to OU and becoming a Fellow with responsibilities, I had grand dreams of skipping across the world snuggling kiwis in New Zealand, sampling endless varieties of bratwurst in Germany, and frolicking through fields of tulips in the Netherlands. However, being surrounded by unbelievably intelligent people who are so incredibly driven and seem so well established in not only A) what they are doing, but also B) why they are doing it while I’m swimming in a sea of my travel hopes and dreams is slightly terrifying. Notice that sarcastic emphasis on slightly? It scares the wanderlust out of me to actually think about where I might go let alone DECIDE where in this world I’ll be spending large chunks of my college life.
The past few weeks have really grounded me in my journey of figuring out what I will be doing with this blessing of a scholarship. With hopes of double majoring in the most opposite of fields and minoring in Spanish on top of traveling extensively within four (or admittedly five years), I realized I don’t have time, now or in the future, to dilly dally.
The daydreams of a sweet, simple foreign life filled with glutenous eating, prancing through flowers, and cute exotic critters flew out the window fast.
The study abroad fair did help a little, though. After walking around the huge horseshoe and plowing my way through the snaking snow cone line, I found out that I really do crave adventure. I know how cliche that sounds, but after talking to a particular woman about how much she loved how South Korea is pretty Americanized, busses are abundant, everything is open 24 hours, and how it wasn’t a huge leap out of her comfort zone, a few red flags started going off in my head. I’m not in GEF to spend my scholarship, or even my time for that matter, playing it safe. I need to test my boundaries and grow from experiences that I wouldn’t normally get–that’s why people go abroad in the first place!
I really felt especially pumped-up for globetrotting after talking to a guy at the second booth of the horseshoe from the east (Cado, Cada, Cadda? I really can’t remember what program he was with and he didn’t have flyers for us. If you know, comment!). We started with basic conversation, but things got deep fast after he asked if I had traveled abroad before. We figured out we have a mutual passion to explore what we haven’t yet encountered! We were literally giddy about how incredible it is to go though experiences that push us to develop ourselves, especially ones that we couldn’t have but in places outside our safety bubble. Since I have already spent some time in England, France, and Mexico, I have officially crossed those places off my list (unless they offer something I can’t pass up–I’ll revoke that declaration in a heartbeat). He also helped really point out to me to keep my mind open about where I’ll end up traveling–he originally dreamed of Australia and ended up in South Africa!
I guess I didn’t get too much farther on determining exactly where I am going, but at least I know where I would prefer not to go!
Three countries down, 200+ more to go.