We all have people in our lives that help to create who we are today. I appreciate and value everything my parents did for me while I was growing up. It is my parents that helped shape who I am today. They taught me values that guided me as a child and still guide me today as an adult. School was the most important thing to me my whole life. I love to learn and consider myself a lifelong learner. Some of my friends have even called me a nerd, but I see that description as a compliment rather than an insult. I have always been driven and intrinsically motivated to be successful in school. I honestly cannot remember my parents ever asking me if I had homework or if I did my homework because I just did it and loved to do it. My parents never put my tests on the refrigerator and that used to make me mad. Sometimes I did it for myself, but it was just a given that I would do well and work hard. My parents did everything for me and I was never deprived of any opportunity.
In eleventh grade of high school I wanted to go on a school trip to France. The trip was expensive and a bit unknown, but my parents made it happen for me. The whole idea of international travel was foreign to my parents and myself. We went to meetings at school about the trip and friends of mine from French class were involved. I remember getting my passport and my luggage and a friend coming over to teach me how to pack because I did not know what to do and she did because she went away to summer camp every year. She taught me one of the best tricks of packing- roll everything! What you acquire along the way in life helps you at various points in the future.
During spring break in 1997 I traveled to France with my classmates and teachers and saw amazing art, used my language skills, and learned history by experience. The teachers who were in charge of me were spectacular! There is nothing better than learning on site and being abroad. I still remember that trip as if it was yesterday. Even though all of that sounded wonderful I was unhappy because I was extremely homesick. It was the first time I was away from my family and I cried almost everyday while making collect calls home to my parents and my boyfriend. There I was in Paris and all I wanted to do was come home. Here is another life lesson learned- you have to make the best of any situation and challenge yourself. My parents worked very hard, made sacrifices and paid a lot of money for me to be where I was in France and to have that opportunity therefore I needed to get over myself and enjoy my time in a foreign country.
I never studied abroad in college, but if I could go back I would. That being said I did take advantage of every travel opportunity that I could while I was a college student. I went on spring break every year and traveled all over the place in search of the best parties and nightlife. Even doing all of that wild travel I kept high grades and never lost sight of my future. Also, I worked in New York City as a nanny for a French family while attending college in Manhattan. The husband was an American businessman and the wife was an artist from France. I was intrigued with the apartments and the people I encountered during my time working for this family. Each visit made me think of other places because the people I spent time with were mostly foreigners from places such as Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and Africa. I was amazed with their lifestyles and the way they spoke [such beautiful accents]!
Now that I am out of college and working as a high school teacher I have the distinct pleasure of traveling with my students and helping to change their lives through various travel experiences. Travel is an education that not everyone understands, but those who experience it will. Adventure is an unusual and exciting experience or activity that encounters risks. Some people are more of a risk taker than others. You have to challenge yourself on a level that makes you happy. Many people love to see the world and travel abroad while others prefer to remain closer to home and visit places in the country or even more local in their hometown. Every traveler has a distinction among the rest. No matter where you are you must take advantage of what that situation can offer to you. You live and you learn so smile and be happy. I believe any opportunity is a learning experience and any challenge is an opportunity. I hope all of you can have the opportunity to challenge yourself by encountering the world around you and seeing where your feet will take you.