Seven continents, 197 countries, more than seven billion people.
There are so many places to see and people to meet, yet we are all guilty of limiting ourselves to one place and one group of people.
"For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy." — (Exodus 20:11)
The Lord created so many beautiful creations for us to explore and be grateful for. He died for all of us to live in this great, big, beautiful world and have everlasting love. I do not believe he made the Earth with his powerful hands for us to never see most of it. So, now I have decided to open my eyes and take advantage of this great big world we are so blessed to live in.
I have always hoped to study abroad in another country. Of course, I knew expenses would come along with it, but that amount of money just does not compare to the experiences I will gain by traveling to another country.
If I don't take advantage of this opportunity now, will I ever? Probably not.
When researching and talking to a study abroad adviser, I learned that studying abroad is actually NOT much more expensive than attending school at a university. I am looking into studying abroad in Italy next fall. It turns out that the school's tuition is actually much cheaper — and so is its room and board.
Of course, there's airfare and food to consider, but think about it… I won't be spending any gas money while I am there, and I'm pretty sure delicious Italian food beats campus food any day of the week.
Tithe Ahmed, a senior at Western Kentucky University and previous student of the Gatton Academy has studied abroad in three countries and traveled even more with her family. She is a biology major with a pre-vet concentration, so traveling is the perfect idea for her major.
When I asked Tithe what traveling means to her, she said: "Traveling, to me, is being able to freely experience different cultures and learning things you couldn't learn with a textbook or video. For me, adventure is one of the best ways to learn and meet new people and be a better you."
The picture below is a picture of Tithe Ahmed in Costa Rica. She chose this picture because it shows her in her happiest state. To quote her, "I was in Costa Rica with old friends and new friends, and I was on the beach and I was truly at peace."
I believe it is so important to find those places where you feel truly at peace, like she said. If you haven't found yours yet, maybe that's your sign that you need to travel somewhere new and experience all this world has to offer.
Don't sell yourself short. Don't limit yourself. Don't regret what could have been.
Over fall break, my boyfriend and I went to Chattanooga, Tennessee to Rock City and Ruby Falls. These were such beautiful creations made by our almighty creator. As we were hiking up the hills through the pathways of rocks and grasses, I couldn't help but think about how it was so much more than "rocks and grass."
We walked over a beautiful bridge and made our way to the very top of Lovers Leap, where we were able to look out and see seven states at the same time — not just one or two, but seven!
While we were on our trip, we made our way through caves and saw beautiful waterfalls that seemed too impossible to even exist. This world we live in is so beautiful, and there's even more than has yet to be discovered.
I don't know about you, but I don't want to miss out on all the views and experiences that are just right around the corner.
Do I have the money to travel the world and see all I would like to see? No. Will I ever? Absolutely not. But there are so many opportunities that do not cost an arm and a leg. Take advantage of those.
So many things in this life are free or inexpensive, but we totally ignore them because we have set our sights the biggest and best of everything.
I am hoping that you choose to go and experience something new today. Something different. Something worthwhile. While I have still not experienced so many things, I am looking forward to the day I do. I'm terrified to fly on a plane, but I long to stare out the window and look into the clouds thousands of feet in the sky.
While it's so easy to think about how scary it may be to try new experiences, you should look at all the positive benefits you will gain. Your outlook on life itself will be different, and you will begin to see the world a whole new way.
Don't be afraid to step out onto that swinging bridge that moves a little while you walk across it. Just think of how beautiful your view is. And if you fall, well, at least you had that experience.
The world is your canvas. It's up to you to paint your picture how you'd like.