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12/03/2013

A Reflection of My First Time Traveling Internationally

Prior to leaving for Nanjing, I had no idea what I was in store for, but I was confident that the experience was well needed. I considered myself very sheltered, not sheltered in the sense of lacking social skills or never hearing a cuss word, but sheltered in terms of lacking international experience. I knew people who had traveled abroad to multiple countries and they seemed so cultured and knowledgeable. In comparison to these people I felt left behind and even ignorant. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that studying abroad was a must for my education and my own self progression. I have seen many movies and read many books but none of them convey the actual experience of a trip abroad. Due to inevitable culture shock, I have gone through every emotion on the spectrum as if I was traveling along a Sine chart. I never knew that this could happen. As an American I thought I had lived a rather “normal” life, from growing up in suburbia, to playing sports in high school and being a college student, but I see the that idea of “normal” can only be from a perspective. From my perspective, though limited, I thought I was normal, but having entered an entirely different society I can now say that there is no normal, and if there was it would be weird because everything is different in nature. How exactly has this trip improved me for the better? Well during my range of emotional roller-coaster I have had to question my very own core of assumptions about the world. I came to question the existence of a higher being, I came to question my own attitude towards people, but most of all I came to question what I really want out of my life. As a senior my life has already settled on a career path, and I will be starting within in a few months. This trip gave me the opportunity to get out of my usual atmosphere and look at the world from an entirely new perspective. One of my favorite metaphors of life is that you are in a boat, in the middle of the sea, with no land in sight and only two oars and the current. You can let the current take you were ever it may, but that is where everything/everyone else will also end up. It is far better to make a firm decision and paddle away, every day, because sooner or later you will reach land. Only the few will make it there, but that decision to paddle makes all the difference. This trip has allowed me to confirm my decision in the direction that I am paddling and I am grateful for that, because now I will paddle even harder.

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