The Journey Begins

I’ve been waiting for this time to come since earlier this year, last semester. That was the time I started planning out my required study abroad trip. (Yes, as an International Studies major at my university, we have to study abroad). And where did I decide to go for a semester? The most fantastic destination in the world, of course.

And by that, I mean Canada. Okay, sounds a little lame when I say it, but I don’t care. I want to relish every single adventure I embark on, even if it doesn’t sound very exotic. A wonderful experience doesn’t require much if you have the right mindset behind it.

In general, I just really want to pack up my bags and travel. I haven’t gone anywhere long distance in a very long time. The last time was probably a family vacation for a couple of days in Las Vegas two years ago, which, might I add, was a blast. But ever since I first traveled to Europe, the travel bug has run rampant. Except, of course, traveling costs money. If plane tickets were free, you would probably never see me again.

When I think about my future, I don’t really see myself settling down somewhere, especially anywhere considered “small town.” I want to see as much of this world as I possibly can. There’s a reason I added an International Studies major to my journalism degree. My dream job (whatever that may be), will be one that either requires travel or allows me the flexibility to reside wherever I choose and move whenever I get the urge. This planet is too vast to only see one city a majority of my life.

Especially at this age, this is the golden opportunity to pack a bag and just go. I have nothing at this point to really hold me back, nothing too established. Even if I wasn’t required to study abroad, I would be making plans to travel at least once during my undergrad years. Even in the potential wake of graduate school, it’ll be much harder to find the time to travel.

And in general, as I’m sure most universities emphasize now to its students, studying abroad is a very valuable experience to learn beyond the classroom. Instead, you learn the skills required to thrive in an increasingly globalized society, including “street smarts.” I’m from the small town Midwest, so even just going to a more populated area brings about a new set of challenges and situations I rarely encounter on a daily basis, putting my gut and know-how to the test.

Besides that fact, I love bigger cities for the sheer fact of increased exposure to diversity. I’ve grown up surrounded by an overwhelming Caucasian majority. We all have similar backgrounds. There’s something indescribable about walking past a conversation spoken in a different language, or gazing upon a crowd of different skin shades and wardrobes. I love discussing topics with someone from a completely different perspective than my own. That’s where a true appreciation for both the similarities and differences among the human race. Deep stuff.

Now I realize spending a few months in a smaller Canadian city about half an hour from the northern Vermont border won’t be too drastically different. It’s not like I’ll walk into the airport and experience sudden culture shock. But I’ll be in an entirely new environment, new crowds of people, new memories waiting to be made.

Another reason I chose Canada? This world has become a very paranoid place. While violence can begin in virtually any setting, you just never know. I certainly don’t plan on hiding in a reclusive place to avoid violent forces wreaking their havoc, but at this point, I don’t want my family worrying about me too much. At least for now. We can’t stop living and moving in fear of a dark unknown.

As I’ve said before and will continue to say, you can never expect to stay in your comfort zone of the little community and life you’re used to and truly change and grow. I refuse to sit idly by, accepting life as it is. I have the power and capability to take advantage of the opportunities life throws at me.

I must say, I’m not a huge fan of all the planning and paperwork involved in making this trip a reality. As I’ve said, the process began earlier this year. I just recently received my formal approval for admission. Now I get to figure out transferring credits, registering for classes, and find an appropriate flight and transportation. All the fun stuff. But I know it will be worth all of the extra current stress and work.

As the trip approaches, I will continue discussing the process and all the fun little details. And especially related posts as I’m in the midst of my study abroad because I’m sure life will throw some curve-balls in there that will make for some decent blog posts.

Did I mention that I’ll be leaving the United States just before the presidential inauguration for whoever is elected? Whenever people say they will escape to Canada to avoid dealing with an unsavory president…I mean, you could say I’m doing that. Not really, but we’ll pretend. And if I happen to run into Justin Trudeau, you bet I will fangirl hard. And don’t even get me started on maple syrup. Anyways.

The countdown to Bon Voyage begins now, and I look forward to taking you all along the journey with me.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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