This year was FILLED with experiences that I will never forget. It has been a year of exploring the world and myself, growth, change, and growing pains. Here is what I learned:
1. You can never have too many families. Visiting Spain, Germany, Austria, and Nicaragua, I was hosted by many wonderful people. Mothers with great advice, fathers that tease you, and little siblings that remind you what life is about…even if they get in trouble for trying to take a wheelbarrow indoors! Cheers to the wonderful people that made me feel welcome, and of course my true Oregon family that welcomed me home.
2. Learn by doing, not by sitting. I learned a million times more (okay, well I am still bad at math) about Spanish, culture, myself, and people by interacting with “the real world”. College tells us that “the real world” is something that we will experience after we graduate, and come to dislike. I am here to say that “the real world” is all around us even now, and it is wonderful and horrible and confusing and inspiring all at the same time. It’s time for me to stop watching minutes tick by in the classroom, pop my college bubble, and venture beyond!
3. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder.
4. How to be truly happy for others.
5. I am strong, intelligent, and can accomplish anything. Traveling alone as a woman really taught me that I have a great sense of adventure, a great sense of when to be cautious, and even a growing sense of direction (I navigated through Europe the old fashioned way, without a Smart phone). I learned that I can be flexible, adaptable, and a decision maker. Watch out, world!
In all honestly, this has probably been the most challenging year of my life. I am challenged by the things I saw, who I am, and what I can do to change myself and the world for the better.