Like most Union students traveling abroad is something that I’ve been dreaming of doing since my very first day at this school. I’ve loved to travel ever since my first trip abroad to France when I was 12. From that point on the world opened up for me. I have been blessed to be able to travel to the places that I have as my mother is responsible for all travel abroad opportunities at the school where she works. I would never have been able to afford it otherwise and therefore would never have gotten to experience all that I have. At this exact instant in time I have traveled to France, Spain, Italy, Africa (Morocco), Turkey, Greece, Canada, Mexico, Nicaragua, and China. I have been traveling non-stop for the past 6 years and have only recently felt that there is a void in my life as I haven’t traveled since I was 18. Thankfully this March I’ll be traveling back to Paris and to Vannes to reclaim my sanity. Seriously, I feel like I’ve been going insane since I became stationary!!
My first idea was to go abroad for the entire year next year by applying to the Stone Fellowship that allows one student per year to go abroad. I really wanted to go to Paris to study at the Sorbonne with SUNY Geneseo’s program, but now I am questioning my true desire. I was so sure for so long but as the application deadline draws nearer I am having significant doubts. About a week ago I was informed that an extension had been given to those students interested in going to Rennes. At first I wasn’t sure if I should apply, but then changed my mind. I believed I should use it as a sort of back-up plan in case the year abroad didn’t work out. As of right now it is my first and foremost plan! The more information I find out about it the more intrigued I am. My desire to go has peaked and now I can’t stop thinking about exploring this town that I’ve never traveled to before. I am even more excited than I was for the year abroad as I will be with familiar faces and have the opportunity to do a home stay. I am diligently working on my application, especially the essay, and am crossing my fingers I get the opportunity to go. I find out in two weeks and I can’t wait.
My second idea for a study abroad is to travel to Cambodia next spring in order to participate in a community outreach program. This trip is essentially all about community service and the idea of going to a country that is so vastly different from Europe is exciting. I really wanted to do a type of service trip while in college as helping out abroad has always been a huge deal to me. I remember when I traveled to Nicaragua to help bring clean water and clean outhouses to a small, rural village. It was one of the best experiences I have ever had and truly changed me. I remember coming back and feeling so lost in my nice house, looking confusedly at all of my possessions. These are the type of trips that make you so proud of yourself, that teach you what it means to pitch in and get your hands dirty.
I am and forever will be in love with travel. If I don’t get on a plane and fly off to an exotic land every year or two I almost don’t even know what to do with myself. I have the strongest feeling that when I set out on my own and begin to build my career it will not be in the United States. I would so love to station myself in the center of it all, in the heart of the world. Unfortunately this isn’t possible as this burning, passionate heart is located far and wide, in the chests of smiling, happy South African children, in the hard worn expressions of Japanese soldiers, in the strength of two old men playing chess in Greece, and in the laugh of the young Russian woman sitting with her friends in a cafe. Everyone has this heart inside of them, but it is only ignited when you step out into the unknown, head held high, prepared to let yourself be taken Up, Up, and Away.