I sit here today writing from the airport as I begin my journey abroad. The first leg of my international experience will be in Guatemala. This trip is part of a separate trip through Quinnipiac University. The class is CIS440 and is the end of a long semester preparing for this trip. As a class we have built a website to provide for the Pavarotti center in Guatemala, which will help the center function and provide its services to the local community. As I write this I have a lot of mixed emotions, waiting in this terminal marks the end of the long preparation for this exact moment, but also marks the beginning of what I have begun to call the year of travel. As I shared my letter of separation I realized what this trip was going to mean to me. I am fortunate enough to be able to set the context of my once in a lifetime experience, with a trip to a third world country and volunteer my services to those in need. At this point I feel prepared to separate from everything that I have in the United States. My past few years at QU have all led up to this trip. I constantly challenged myself and pushed to be in situations out of my normal comfort zones. In my first semester I began to tackle my social anxiety by joining a fraternity. Immediately in the following semester I took on a leadership role on the executive board of my fraternity as well as joining the new blue rugby team. These two things allowed me to be more independent and develop my understanding of the school. New blue rugby also added a level of independence because for the second time I was introduced to an entirely new group of people with an entirely different culture, than that of my fraternity. As my independence developed I began to be recognized by the leadership in the fraternity, and was groomed to become the president of my fraternity. Specifically this sequence of events developed not only my leadership skills but, my independence, and intellectual ability to be fully prepared for my upcoming trips. While I am leaving my girlfriend behind, and a lot of my friends I do not believe that I have anything significant holding me back from fully experiencing my trip. For me a successful abroad experience will be having an exciting adventure that will educate me on lessons in independence, self-prosperity, and worldliness. I am in a unique position where I will be studying both master’s level classes as well as undergrad courses. To me this is exciting because it allows me to compare some high-level concepts taught in a foreign country to my own. Furthermore I have selected classes in the field of economics. It is a goal of my life to obtain a PhD in the field of economics. This will be the first step into advanced economics, and gain a better understanding of where I personally stand and how I want further my education. Not only will this open my eyes to the depth of the field I intend to study, but I will also gain a better grasp of foreign economies by studying about the economy that I will be living in. We often here about ‘socialist’ Europe and the pros and cons in the media, yet I feel as though this is a filtered and watered down version of reality. Experiencing it first hand as well as in a sophisticated academic setting will be truly eye-opening and exactly what I need. I cannot wait to begin to understand the differences between my personal community and the foreign. I hope to be a sponge, and a wide eyed individual with my head on a swivel. I cannot wait to simply walk the streets, absorb the lifestyle, and examine every detail. The picture I have chosen to represent my travels is the symbol of the Pavarotti Center that I will be visiting in Guatemala. It is representative of my travels, because it represents the beginning of my adventure, and experience.