College is a transformative time for most. It is an opportunity to learn new things, meet new people and develop independence from your past. For me, college was just that – a time to go and explore new parts of the world, meet new people and make new friends. Although I grew up in Mobile and practically went to college in my own back yard, the University of Mobile gave me the world as my classroom.
First, I traveled to India with the School of Christian Studies. Our goal was to partner with an organization to survey water wells in rural villages.
This trip opened my eyes to underdeveloped communities and sparked compassion for the people. It pushed me out of my comfort zone. It made me think about the world in a different way. It gave me a new respect for other cultures and showed me that we are more connected and have more in common than what separates us.
The following summer I traveled to Paris with French studies. Our goal was to experience the culture and immerse ourselves in the language.
I wanted to really experience Paris. While the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre are amazing, I wanted more. We explored neighborhoods outside of the main tourist hotspots, visited small cafes, and made friends with the people we met. By the end of the trip, Paris felt like home. It also energized me, inspired me, and fueled my creative spirit.
My senior year, I applied for Youth Hostel Missions. Our goal was to build relationships and share our faith with other travelers we met along the way during our three-week backpacking trip through Europe. Our journey was full of historical sites, dinners with strangers, lots of coffee, and heartfelt conversations. We traveled from Rome to Florence to Grindelwald, Switzerland to Munich, to Prague, to Berlin, and finally to Amsterdam.
In each city we met people from all around the world, all with different world views. It showed me that the world is a much smaller place than you think. It taught me to find common ground with people who live on the opposite side of the world.
The experiences you have while traveling are ones that can change your life. I have learned so much about the world and myself by taking advantage of the opportunities I had in college at the University of Mobile. International travel expanded my world, deepened my faith, and sparked a new sense of adventure that continues to push me out of my everyday routine.