Time Abroad: Fall 2007 - Spring 2008
My overall experience studying abroad was memorable and I learned and grew immensely during my time there. One of my most memorable experiences occurred during my winter break which I shared with my host mom at her cabin in the mountains of the pre-alps in the South of France. This cabin had no indoor plumbing, no electricity, and no neighbors. For miles. The only way we knew there were other people around was because of the planes flying overhead. Being there for 5 days, I learned how to live with limited resources--not creating too much trash (as we had to carry everything down the mountain with us), not using too much water (as we had limited drinking water and had to go get water for cleaning from a spring several meters away.) Also, we had to go down the hill and around the corner to go to the bathroom. In February, that takes a lot of clothing, too! But the evenings were magical. It was a full moon at the time, and the cabin is made of white stones. The moon illuminated everything almost as if it were daylight. Even though the first night was a big shock, I made it through and really enjoyed being there. It was harder getting used to using indoor plumbing again afterwards, to be honest! You don't realize how little you need to survive until you have an experience like this. Study abroad was the only way I was able to grow in this way, and not only that, but I could only speak French as I had no contact with English-speaking people. That helped me more than I know!
Study abroad is one of the most rewarding things that anyone can do in their lifetime. It is not easy being away from home or away from the life you know, but it is a time to discover who you are and who you want to be without the constraints of expectations on the home front. Despite the support from family and friends, it is important to know what you want without that clouded judgment. Not only that, but you get to meet new people, travel, step out of your comfort zone, and grow in ways you can't even imagine. Pick somewhere you want to be, where several months will be integral to you being there, and a vacation for a couple of weeks wouldn't give you the same effect. Don't pass it up!
This experience has shaped me and helped me to realize what I want to do in my life. It helped me to rediscover my passion for French, traveling, and general health. I will take this experience with me into graduate study in athletic training to work with teams that travel to allow me to use my language skills and my passion for health and wellness in a career that is versatile and "changeante." I will not let this time in my life go by the wayside.