During my junior year of high school, I was blessed with the opportunity to take a trip to Spain and Morocco. I almost missed the opportunity thanks to my crippling separation anxiety and my fear of the unknown. Reluctantly, my mom got me to the airport and all the way to the security line. Once I was there, I broke down in tears saying that I refused to get on the plane. After some encouragement from my Spanish teachers, mom, best friend, and best friend's mom, I shakily got in line with an empty feeling in my chest. I was about to fly to a different continent with a bunch of people that I barely knew. I'd only had one or two sleepovers, and they still made me homesick. The moment the plane touched down in the beautiful city of Madrid, my life was changed for the better. Here are some of the things I learned:

1. Spanish people are EXTREMELY friendly.

As soon as we got off the plane, a native speaker tried conversing with me... in Spanish. I quickly learned that listening exercises are nowhere near the real thing. Luckily, the locals are very willing to work with you by slowing their speech or trying English.

2. It's really not that hard to make new friends.

I found a great group of friends that I had never talked to before our trip. One compliment can form a bond of common interests. It can lead to your newest roommate or a best friend to do your hair, makeup, and check out foreign boys with.

3. You're not going to like everyone.

You come in contact with a lot of people, you have to do a lot of different things, and you'll find yourself in a lot of different situations. You won't always like them. You just have to push through. Nothing is forever.

4. Just because the food is the country's specialty doesn't mean it's actually good.

You know your tastes better than anyone.

5. If you never face your fears, you're never going to grow.

Literally. My fear was riding a camel on the side of a Moroccan highway. I literally grew about seven feet, and it wasn't graceful or gradual at all.

In all seriousness, this trip was easily the best decision I've ever made. I wouldn't be half the person I am today if it weren't for this opportunity. I got the chance to practice a language I'd been learning for years, make new friends, experience two new cultures, and so much more. Getting out of your comfort zone isn't easy, but you'll be so grateful that you did.