I have always loved to travel and knew that one of the things I wanted to do in college was study abroad. When I was looking at schools, the study abroad programs played a factor in my decision. As soon as the application to study abroad came out, I applied right away. When I got the email saying I had been accepted into the Galway, Ireland program for the spring semester of my sophomore year, I was beyond excited. This is something that I have always dreamed of, living in Europe and being able to travel anywhere that I wanted to.
As I got closer to leaving, I was both excited and nervous. Excited to be going on a new adventure, but nervous because I was going to a foreign country where I did not know anyone. Saying “goodbye” to my friends and family was one of the hardest things to do, but the experience that I had abroad paid off. I met some of the greatest people that I would have never had the chance to meet if I had been too scared to go abroad. I met people from the University of Portland and Willamette University that I lived and traveled with for five months. These people became my life source and support. I made some of my best friends here and would probably not have not made these friendships any other way.
I also met some spectacular people in the other countries that we visited. These people taught me so many things about friendship, love, and life. Every country we went to, I saw what different people valued. For example, in Naxos, Greece, we met Niko. He owned one of the shops there that we visited. We struck up a conversation with him and ended up becoming friends. He gave us free gifts from his shop and recommended a restaurant for us. If we mentioned his name, they would give us free drinks! This is just one example of the hospitality and kindness I experienced when abroad. These people did not know us, we were just American tourists, but they showed us love like I have not experienced before.
I learned a lot about myself and who I want to be while abroad. I want to show the same kindness and love to everyone I meet, just like what I experienced in Europe. I learned that adventure and excitement are all around you, you just have to be willing to take a leap of faith. You never know what you are going to see or who you will meet. Studying abroad can seem scary, but I would recommend anybody who is able to do it. You will grow so much as a person and learn skills that will be beneficial for the rest of your life.