Title: A Tale Worth Telling
Abstract: Anything, and I really do mean anything, is possible if you put the time and effort into making that thing happen. I fell in love with the idea of traveling at a very young age and have not stopped dreaming about it since. How exactly did I get this wanderlust or deep desire to travel? Well, read ahead to find out!
Since the time of braces, funky hair and smelly boys (some might call this time middle school), I have desired to study abroad. Some people would say that I was too young to understand and comprehend what it meant to study abroad, to live and experience a different culture but thanks to my English teacher, Mrs. Anderson, I was fully aware of what it meant and wanted it even more.
In the beginning, I really just loved listening to peoples’ stories of traveling all around the world and seeing all of the famous sights. This notion was extremely appealing to me because I am from a very small town where few people ever get the chance to leave. However, during my junior year of high school I meet my friend Ohla. Ohla was a foreign exchange student who was from Ukraine and staying with my friend’s family for the duration of that year. Ohla had won a scholarship through a private organization, and because of this scholarship she was able to attend school in the United States.
I was so impressed that she took the initiative, or took it upon herself, to do the research and find out how to make her dream of studying abroad in the United States come true. Throughout the school year we became very good friends and by the end were inseparable. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do saying goodbye to Ohla, but we said it was not goodbye but rather a see you later because by this point I was determined to study abroad somewhere in Europe so that I could see her again.
From that moment on I started saving half of my paycheck every week and putting it into a special saving account at the bank called “Aley’s Ireland Fund.” I created this separate account so that I would not be tempted to take the money out to go shopping or go to the movies with friends because I knew that if I really did want to make this happen I was going to have to do it on my own because my parents could never afford to help me pay for the costs.
When I came to college I met so many people that had studied abroad and promoted the experience with their whole hearts. This only made me want it more and I began to get very serious about saving money and looking for scholarships that I could help alleviate or less the cost. In my searches I found The Gilman Foundation, which helps students like myself whose parents do not make very much money. I knew that if I put the time and effort into writing the essays and explaining my lifelong dream of studying abroad and how much it meant to me I might have a chance at receiving some sort of funding. So, I wrote my essays and spent over 25 hours with friends revising and editing to make them perfect. I sent them in and completely forgot about them.
A few months later I was studying in the silent section in the library and got a phone call from an unknown number. I almost did not answer, but something told me to take the phone call. I am so glad that I did! It was the Gilman Foundation calling to inform me that they were awarding me $4,000 to study abroad in Ireland for the 2013 spring semester. As I called my mom with fingers shaking to share the good news words cannot even describe how excited I was! This money was going to make it possible to study aboard! I was on my way.
Fast forward to present day. Once again words escape me to convey or explain to you how much this experience has meant to me. I have met so many talented, interesting and incredible people throughout this journey it is almost overwhelming. I feel like I am not the same person who left the states just five short months ago. I cannot believe that at the age of 20 I am able to say that I have successfully crossed two things off of my bucket list: studying abroad and backpacking through Europe. It may sound funny now, but studying abroad has given me the opportunity to see and experience how people around the world live their lives and it has truly opened my eyes and heart. It has made me want to travel even more.
Thinking about the future and when I will someday have my own classroom makes me reflect on this experience and how I got here. This journey has meant so much to me and I hope that I can someday transfer and instill my love of traveling and meeting new people to my future students. I hope to stimulate their minds into not only thinking about the world around them but the world as a whole. I hope to motivate them to put in the time and effort and show them that dreams really do come true. I hope to create that fantastic sense of adventure, want and need to explore and discovery this crazy world of ours.
I just want to take a moment to thank of all of the people who helped me get here along the way. Thank you first of all for to the Gilman Foundation for helping to alleviate or lessen the costs of studying abroad, without your generosity I would not be where I am today. Thank you to my editor, Anita. Thank you for sifting through the very rough drafts and I believe that you will make it to Ireland someday! Thank you to Kristen at Reach the World for also editing my articles and primping them to look perfect for the students to view and all of your helpful suggestions. Thank you to Sofia for always trying to make the silly technology work out in our favor and for working with our future travelers. Your job is truly a very special one.
But most of all thank you to my FUTURE TRAVELERS! Without you guys I would have no one to write about all of my adventure to. Thanks for always reading my articles and Skyping with me. Keep up your hard work in school and remember that hard work does pay off in the end. There is always someone willing to help and if you show them how hard you work, especially in school, you will find a way to make your dreams come true whether that is going to college or studying abroad or whatever your dream may be.
Just always remember that even when things look rough there is always the future and the future is what you make it. It is your tale to tell and always remember that your tale is worth telling.