How Traveling Abroad Made Me Successful In College
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How Traveling Abroad Made Me Successful In College

My first adventure made starting my second as easy as pie.

How Traveling Abroad Made Me Successful In College
Mary Newton

When I graduated high school, I was lucky enough to receive a trip to Europe as a present from my parents. My mother and I, along with my aunt, went on a Trafalgar tour that started and ended in London. It took us up through England into Scotland, through Northern Ireland, Ireland, and Wales, and then back up the bottom of England where we ended in London. In addition, my mother and I spent an extra week in the London area, where we jumped around the large area and stayed in three different hotels.

It was truly the trip of a lifetime, and something I will be forever grateful for experiencing. Not only was it a wonderful time, but it also made a difference in my life as I began my crazy college experience.

One of the major aspects of this trip, as Americans traveling in a foreign country, was keeping up with our passports. We kept them close at all times, and we had to be constantly aware of our surroundings. I am a frustratingly observant person anyways – sometimes I ignore things I’ve noticed just because I don’t feel like dealing with them – but this was an entirely new level of awareness. I had to know what was going on all around me at all times, as well as be able to still enjoy all the sights we were seeing.

This heightened awareness has also helped me in college in a variety of ways. Not only am I able to navigate large crowds of students on campus during the school day, but I also tend to feel safer when walking home from work at night. I know I am capable of preventing negative situations because I am constantly aware of what is going on.

Along this same vein is the ability to navigate cities. Going through London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dublin, and a number of other cities taught me all about getting where you need to go in a place you’ve never been. This skill helped me locate and learn where my classes were rather quickly, and also assisted in my navigation of New York City on my own when my University’s band went there for a concert tour last semester.

Another aspect of the trip, which was quite difficult to deal with, was lugging around our luggage. It was fine when we were on the Trafalgar tour, since our luggage stayed in the undercarriage of the bus when we weren’t in a hotel. However, when my mother and I were on our own, we had to carry our own luggage from hotel to hotel. I’ve dragged a heavy suitcase up and down several flights of stairs to the Tube, stood in a train car full of people with my duffel bag held close, and pulled several weeks’ worth of clothes several blocks through city streets. And what did I learn? How to pack lightly.

I live about 1,000 miles away from school, so when I go home on holidays, I tend to pack everything I need in a duffel bag and take a backpack as my personal item. This means I can bring what I absolutely need and not have to pay to check a bag. I would not have learned how to pack light as quickly if it weren’t for the pain I had to suffer from over-packing on that trip.

One final thing I learned from that trip was the educational value of my experience. Of course I did learn a lot when we went to museums and churches and castles, but it took college-level history and art classes for me to really, truly connect with my experiences. I got to see buildings and art we would later talk about in my Gen Ed Humanities courses, as well as visit places where books I would later read for class were set.

In all, I gained a lot from my trip to Europe, but much of it has taken me since I have been in college to fully realize and appreciate. Travel abroad is an amazing way to not only see the world, but to gain experiences that will give you important life skills long after the trip is over.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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