One of my inspirations for studying abroad centers around my dad. He is the biggest role model in my life and he has always traveled. First, he went away to college in Alaska and Oklahoma and once he came back to Long Island he got a job that allowed him to travel around the world. He always had interesting stories to tell and when he was younger he would take back souvenirs to remember his trips. Since then the allure of travel has greatly decreased which is a testament to how much he has really done, but, that doesn’t stop him from gaining knowledge of other cultures and still experiencing new things that make great stories.
I chose Switzerland and the city of Lugano specifically because I love being outdoors and having new experiences. Lugano is close to Milan which is one of the central points of Europe. As far as being outside goes, Lugano and the entirety of Switzerland are absolutely gorgeous. I look forward to many hikes and other outdoor experiences like skiing, paragliding, and running. I’m excited to get a taste of each of the many languages and cultures that can be found in Switzerland where each region has its own “flavor”. The country and its history is interesting to me and I have a few Swiss Army Knives so that will be a bonus interest to learn about.
The traditional Rites of Passage Theory is really getting me more excited for forcing myself to get out of my comfort zone. Looking through some of the writing prompts; they are going to get me out of my room and I think the course schedule I have will be conducive to that. I’ll also be on the lookout for some of the things that would hinder my experience and the things that will help it. Becom
ing accustomed and invested in the culture of Switzerland and all the other countriesand regions I visit.
I have always been of the mind that the best memories are made when we are faced with hardship. I traveled down to West Virginia (a different world) for two weeks in 2013 for the National Boy Scout Jamboree and it rained every single day to the point that we would be sinking in the mud and our tents were soaked through. By the end of the weekend I was tired from hardly sleeping and hungry for real food (not the camping meals that we got). Then we left for our 18 hour trip back to New York. This involved two of our busses breaking down meaning that when we started the trip we had four troops of boys split up on four buses with every seat full. By the end of the trip we had those same four troops with all their gear crammed onto two of those buses. Safe to say most people were wondering why they decided to go on this trip because looking back at that point it seemed extremely negative. However, looking back on the trip, it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I was able to try a whole slew of new things, give back to the community, and gain a new perspective on a culture I never could have imagined. When I talk to my friends who went on the trip with me we reflect on how great the trip was with the highs and the lows. Paul Theroux explained this concept perfectly when he said, “Travel is gla
morous only in retrospect.” Many military men and women reflect on their experiences in the same way where the greatest times in their lives were during their service, even though they were miserable for a good portion of it. Now of course I don’t want to be miserable during my trip abroad, however I am open to any challenges I am going to face because I know I will look back on those experiences with fond memories.