Posted by: Sarah | May 17, 2006

And now I’ve opened my eyes, I’m showing signs of life…

I can’t exactly pinpoint when my travel addiction began. Perhaps my junior year of high school when I left the country for the first time and spent two weeks in France. For the first time in my life I was given a taste of what it really meant to live outside of Wisconsin, the place I had spent my whole life until that point. Family vacations had never even been more exotic than Florida, although had almost always been limited to the midwest. During those two weeks in France, I met a classmate’s older sister, who was studying in Paris at the time, and from that point on, I knew that I wanted to do the same thing when I was in college.

Three years later I made that happen. Coming into college as the completely undecided freshman, who followed the cliche path of changing my major at least once or twice a semester, everything from pre-med to journalism, nothing quite seemed to fit. Early into my sophomore year, something kept nagging at me, saying that I needed a sign, something that I could connect with, because amidst the pressure of choosing a MAJOR, I felt so completely lost about what I wanted to do with my LIFE. I kept coming back to study abroad, the one thing that I had always known in my heart I needed to do. I applied on a whim, days before the deadline, without telling anyone. Before I knew it, Spring Semester 2004 would be spent in Paris and my life would be changed forever.

I love Madison and cannot imagine having spent the past 4 years of my life anywhere else. The school, the city, the people were exactly the college experience that I had always expected. I still cannot believe that I am old enough to have graduated from college, but no matter where I go from here, I will always be proud to be a UW-Madison alum.

Yet it was the semester that I spent away from Madison that had the greatest impact on my life thusfar. I spent 5 months learning so much more than French language, culture, lit, and art history. I learned the art of living in a new culture and how amazing it can be to step out of your comfort zone and experience a new country. It was not easy by any means, but that simply added to the richness of the experience. I became addicted to European culture, cuisine, architecture, history, and most importantly, I became addicted to traveling. Studying abroad taught be the value of independence and how much I value and depend on my friends, the most important people in my life whose support has helped me so much along the way, even when we are separted by an ocean. Much more than helping me to choose an academic major, the time that I spent living in Paris opened doors to me and showed me what it meant to be passionate about something. I found a way to fit together the pieces of my life that had not made any sense. I saw what was important in my life and I MADE IT HAPPEN.

The past two years since I studied abroad have been filled with traveling, both within and outside of the US. Like Paris, the best of those adventures were the crazy ideas that I got into my head and refused to let go of. Six and a half weeks from now, I will be leaving for my next adventure, my next crazy idea that I have somehow turned into a reality. Everything is falling into place so quickly that I am not even sure I am taking it all in.

Friday: offered a traineeship in Colombia.
Sunday: graduated from UW-Madison
Wednesday: booked plane tickets from Chicago-Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires-Bogota, and back to Chicago again, registered for another international conference, this time in Cordoba, Argentina, working on whether or not we can stop in Uruguay for a few days during the two weeks between when I leave the states and head up to Colombia

Life is crazy.

I can’t even begin to count all the places that everyone around me is headed to. Hong Kong. New York. California. Cairo. Uganda. Chicago. Morocco. London. India. Adam already said this, but I’m going to copy. I have pretty cool friends.

I’m not sure where I was going with this post. I can’t believe I have tickets. The Visa is in the works. My “to do” keeps growing longer. This is real folks. This little Wisconsin girl is pushing the limits and heading out of the country once again.

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Responses

  1. How exciting to read about a young person who is spreading her wings! Fly, girl, fly. And don’t get bogged down with a guy till you’re ready for that because trust me, I’m almost 40, it changes everything if you make a hasty relationship decision. I’ve traveled a lot with my job (formerly a celebrity makeup artist) and my church (I was a short term missionary to the Philippines) and nothing makes you feel more alive than getting out of your comfort zone. I don’t even know you personally, but I’m proud of you. Do big things and live a full life! You’ll look back when you’re eighty and smile.


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