I can honestly say that this experience was a trip of a lifetime. I was originally hesitant to apply because I didn’t know how I was going to afford the trip, but I decided to go ahead and apply anyway because this is something that I really wanted to pursue. I applied to many scholarships from CAES and was fortunate enough to have the entire trip paid for through these funds. Learning that I can pursue things that seem like they are far beyond my reach was the first of many lessons I learned on this trip.
Something that really surprised me after spending time in these foreign countries is how different other cultures really are. I had never realized just how shut off to the rest of the world I have been by growing up in the United States. There are so many interesting people in the world to meet and cultures to explore. One thing that I specifically took from this trip was a new desire to learn foreign languages. In high school, I never really took foreign language classes seriously. I didn’t see them as a way to learn a new language, but rather as just another course with a grade. After going on this trip, I have begun studying Spanish again (on my own time too!) and want to make language learning my new hobby. I realize the importance that language has in making relationships and I want to be able to foster new relationships with people from other cultures.
This last lesson I wasn’t really taught, but rather reminded of, is how easy it is to engage in community. When back here in Athens, I tend to stick with my close friend group and not branch out a great deal. While on these types of trips, you are put in a new place with 30 people you’ve never met before. After just a few hours of traveling and getting to know them, they turned out to be some of the most amazing friends! I can’t wait to come back to Athens to see them all again!