When asked, “Who is your biggest hero?” nine times out of ten, the person asked will respond with either their mother or their father. The same applies to me. Although my parents are equally influencing and supportive to me, I’d like to talk about my mother specifically.
I would like to be like my mother and father when I mature, but specifically my mother because she is a strong woman. I remember when I used to get ready for school as she was getting ready for work. I would admire her getting dressed in her business attire and grabbing her purse to head out the door to begin her work day. Like her, I plan to become a mother and work hard to provide my family with as many opportunities as possible. That is what she did for me, and it led to me being able to study abroad.
Although I have been supported sufficiently throughout my life, I am not oblivious to the fact that my parents have had to work hard to keep their finances in order and the bills paid. When I first contemplated study abroad, the main thing that held me back from applying to my program was the cost. I had heard that studying abroad was expensive. This was the reason that most of my peers said they could not study abroad. When I asked my mother if I could participate and apply, she said that I could do it as long as I found a scholarship to help her foot the bill. Thankfully, Gilman helped my family and me out with the payments. Winning this scholarship and studying abroad inspired my mother to contact me one day while I was here.
She called to say that I inspired her! She said that she could have never had the courage to do what I did, which was leaving her hometown and travel the world. It meant so much to me to hear that I inspired the woman that inspired me so much. It truly touched my heart.
The one thing that could have made this study abroad journey better is to have my family along for the ride. However, I cannot fathom the price of my trip times four! Bringing my mother, father and little brother along on all the trips I took during this journey is definitely out of my family’s affordability range right now. Although my parents did not have the money to take my brother and me all over the world, they compensated for this by introducing us to many different cultures of the world through things such as food, museums and festivals. When I grow up, I want to maintain a career that will allow me to travel and take my family along with me.
Other people who were of particular influence to me were an elderly Australian couple that I met in Cinque Terre, Italy. Cinque Terre is a collection of passing main towns on the Ligurian seaside of the Italian region Genova. It is really small. It was so small that during the four days I visited Cinque Terre, I saw this couple at least five times in passing! I bumped into them at lunch one day. I sat at a table alone until the wife of the couple came to my table and asked me to sit to at theirs.
Here I was dining and sharing deserts with a complete stranger! However, I do not like to call people strangers. I like to call people I do not know “potential friends”. We each shared where we had come from and how we got to Cinque Terre. I shared with them that I was a traveling student from Los Angeles, California, and they shared with me that they were from Australia on vacation, heading to Rome. The wife shared with me something that I will never forget. She said that traveling and seeing different places is great, but what are better are the people you meet. They are what create the most interesting stories and leave the biggest impact on you. She could not be any closer to the truth! The people I have met on my study abroad journey will always have a special place in my heart and whenever I reminisce on the places I have been, I will think of the people I have met there.
One of my major lessons during this trip is to be fearless. I had so many fears going into this journey; so much so that I almost did not apply. I feared leaving everything I knew and had become accustomed to in my hometown. Now that it is over, I am proud that I endured and achieved a goal I have set for myself since before entering college. When I return to Los Angeles, I will be more adventurous of the place my family has been raised for over 50 years. There is still so much of Los Angeles that I have yet to see that I cannot wait to see.
If you cannot travel outside of your country, look around your city. If you do some more exploring and get into its history, I guarantee you will discover something knew about it that you did not know. It will give you a greater appreciation of where you live and allow you to adopt the title of a traveler!
It has been my absolute pleasure sharing all of my travels with you. I hope you all are inspired by my journeys and that you one day go out and blaze your own trail on this Earth. There is so much more outside of where we live and it is just waiting to be experienced. Do not be a citizen of your city or even your country, be a citizen of the world! Good luck and God speed!