Studying Abroad Only Broadened My Horizons

Studying Abroad Only Broadened My Horizons

Peru is beautiful, but what it taught me about life and myself is even better.

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On January 2, 2019, I began a journey that would change my life and how I view myself forever. At the time, though, I didn't know this. Don't get me wrong, I was pumped to go to Peru, but I was also understandably terrified. I didn't know anyone going on the trip, so my brain convinced myself that I wouldn't make a single friend in the three weeks I was there (pure FAKE NEWS, thanks, brain). I could make a list that goes on eternally, filled with all the concerns I had. For a short period of time, I even contemplated not going; man would I have been beating myself up if I didn't. The lessons I've learned, the perspective I've gained… I couldn't have gotten it anywhere else.

So now, the moment you've been waiting for: my life-altering experience I had in Peru. If I had the time and an infinite number of pages, I would go through Peru day by day. However, I, unfortunately, do not, so I'm going to talk about the two days that, truly, changed me forever and helped me grow exponentially. On January 6th, my class and I ventured to a little town called Antioquia, where they were celebrating their town's anniversary. It was really fascinating, but I found that I wasn't 100% invested in it because of how anxious I was feeling.

Just a heads up, y'all: Culture shock is a very real thing, and I was hardcore feeling it on this day.

After hanging out for a while in Antioquia, we ended up getting back on our bus and just driving around. Honestly, I don't think there was a destination point in mind; it was a very postmodern perspective. Eventually, we reached this off-beat trail leading to the top of the mountain. Everyone was so excited about it, but I was absolutely terrified. Normally, I'm not one to be scared of heights, but y'all... this trail was NARROW and COVERED in loose rocks.

All that was going through my mind was: "One wrong slip, and I will LITERALLY plummet to my death. And all these people are excited about that?! HOW?!"

Nonetheless, I decide to climb this dang mountain because I knew future me would have beat current me to a pulp for not doing it. So, I began my trek, in the middle of the pack. Yet with every rock, I slipped even the slightest bit on, I felt my heart rate increase exponentially. I felt the shakiness in my body grow to the size of the world's worst earthquake. It got so bad that I had to literally sit down and let a panic attack ride out. At that moment, I hated myself. I hated me for being so weak, so pathetic, that I could not climb this stupid mountain and enjoy the view like everyone else was. After what felt like years of me beating myself up, I started to fight back.

Slowly, I stood up, and you know what I did? I climbed that freaking mountain.

Once again, it was slow because ya girl was hyperventilating the whole time. But I made it. Did I get to the top right as everyone was leaving? Yeah, I did. Did I hyperventilate and shake the whole way up there? You betcha. But you know what? I freaking did it, and anxiety didn't win. I won. I FINALLY won. Never in a million years did I think that I could win a battle against my GAD (generalized anxiety disorder), but I did, and the battle was worth the breathtaking view. I now know that no matter the fight, I have it in me to win; I am capable of so much more than I believe that I am, and so are you. Don't ever forget that.

Panoramic view of what I saw after my conquest in Peru.Katherine Sheetz

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To The Girl Who Hasn't Been Herself Lately

Your spark return, and you will shine like you were meant to.
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Life gets tough. Life gets too much to handle sometimes, and those times make you stronger. However, right now, it seems like you have lost yourself.

It’s difficult when you catch yourself not being you. When you do something or act a certain way and just wonder, “what did I do to deserve this? Why is this happening? When will it get better?” The way you’re feeling is not so much that you’re unhappy, you just feel weird.

Your day will come. I promise you. This is just a phase.

The day you realize how much you have grown from this point in time will be your reward. It is so hard to see now, and I feel your pain.

Your light will return to you. Your pure bliss moments, they are seeking you. Your laughter where your tummy aches is in your reach.

Our moods change far too often for us as humans to understand why, but the encounters you make every day have this effect on us.

You must remember the pure happiness you experienced before your first heartbreak, before the first friend became someone you thought they weren’t, before you lost your innocence. That was a time of true joy as you had not a care in the world for the things that would harm you. Better yet, you didn’t have the option to experience them because you were just a child.

The world can be an ugly place, and your attitude towards life can change every day. One thing is for certain: you did not lose who you are internally. We all put on a face for the world. For the people who we try to impress. For the life we want to live. For the things we want to achieve.

Your definitive personality is still in the works. Believe it or not, it always will be. Times like this change us for the better even though we can’t see it.

Your happiness will return. You will be a better, stronger version of you. In fact, you will be the best version of you yet.

Once this phase is over, you will be okay. This I promise you.

Cover Image Credit: Megan Sutton

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14 Kentucky Destinations To Visit This Summer

I'm in love with the history and beauty encompassing my old Kentucky home.

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Kentucky has got to be one of the most notable states in the U.S. While it is most known for bourbon, horse races, and basketball, you can't deny the beauty of the history and nature that surrounds the state.

Kentucky natives often take for granted the importance of the locations that surround them. These destinations are easily accessible and should be noted a 'must visit' on your next day off.

For those who are travelers and are looking to tour the land of the "Bluegrass state," you won't regret making these KY places your next summer vacation destination.

1. Mammoth Cave National Park

mammoth cave

This park is open year-round with guided tours through the world's longest cave system. This cave is filled with tremendous caverns which are super cool to see, but the stories that are told about the cave through the tour make it an even more interesting experience.

Even if you decided to skip out on the cave tour, this national park is filled with other things to do. There are trails for hiking and biking, and they even have areas for various water activities.

2. Keeneland

keeneland racetrack

Keeneland is beautifully landscaped and located in the horse capital of the world.

While the best time to go is during racing season, I'd still recommend a tour of this famous horseracing arena.

3. Red River Gorge

red river gorge

Red River Gorge is home of the sandstone rock bridge known as the 'Natural Bridge,' and is also the perfect site for a camping experience. At the gorge, you are able to hike, bike, ride, and partake in a variety of other activities.

4. National Corvette Museum

corvette museum

Home to more than 80 models of America's sports car: the Corvette.

5. Cumberland Falls

Cumberland Falls

A huge waterfall that falls 60-feet before tumbling over sandstone bedding. It is truly a sight to see.

6. Ark Encounter

noah's ark

Located in Williamstown, KY is the massive, life-size ship made to resemble Noah's Ark. It is 3-stories tall with interactive exhibits to illustrate the biblical tale.

7. Louisville Slugger Baseball Museum

louisville slugger museum

Baseball, also known as America's favorite pastime.

Kentucky, also home of the Lousiville Slugger Baseball Museum and Factory.

8. Lincoln's childhood home

abraham lincoln's childhood home

Abraham Lincoln served as the 16th U.S. president. He was an important figure for many reasons, but most remembered for his Emancipation Proclamation speech that helped push toward the end of slavery, and his leadership of our nation through the Civil War.

9. Churchill Downs

churchill downs

Churchill Downs is another thoroughbred racetrack in Kentucky, most famous for hosting the Kentucky Derby. Tours are conducted by the Kentucky Derby Museum.

10.  Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest

bernheim forest

Every year, Kentucky loses 50,000 acres due to land development. There are estimated to be over 3 million trees in Bernheim Forest, all of which are protected from development.

Today, Bernheim Forest is over 16,000 acres and will soon be celebrating its 90th "birthday" by revealing a new exhibit entitled "Forest Giants in a Giant Forest." These three massive sculptures, made of recycled wood are expected to withstand for at least 3 years.

11.  Berea Pinnacles

berea pinnacles

A hiking trail with a variety of difficulty levels, and a beautiful view at the end no matter how far you decided to travel.

12.  Woodford Reserve Distillery

woodford reserve distillery

Kentucky is famous for bourbon. So, why not take a tour of the oldest and smallest distillery in the state?

13.  The Kentucky State Capitol

ky state capitol

The KY state capitol is located in Frankfort, KY and is open to visitors/tours. Observe the areas where our chamber of the senate and house of representatives come together for the legislative process.

14.  My Old Kentucky Home State Park

federal hill mansion

Stephen Collins Foster wrote the famous composition 'My Old Kentucky Home, Good Night!' which is now known as our state song. Foster's imagery throughout the song was inspired by the house and the land surrounding what was once known as "Federal Hill." It was referred to as "My Old Kentucky Home" once the U.S. entered the Civil War.

Today, you can tour the home that was host to many famous individuals (Stephen Collins Foster, Henry Clay, Aaron Burr, and more) and the inspiration to a monumental tribute to Kentucky history.

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