As our strenuous junior school year came to a close, my friends and I were bubbling with anticipation for the upcoming, and much needed summer vacation. While the rest of my friends were excited to spend the lazy summer days lying by a pool, I had already made the most life changing decision yet. I was going to venture six thousand miles away from my home to spend five weeks studying at a University in southern Spain. After months of research I had finally found Learning Programs International (LPI). LPI is a study abroad program for high school students that includes a home stay, college classes, and weekend travel excursions throughout Spain
When I finally arrived in Granada, the city instantly took my breath away. The Spanish people and the culture fascinated me. My head was bursting as I tried to absorb every detail of the city: the noises, the people, the architecture, the storefronts and most importantly the language. I came to Spain to quench my passion for studying the Spanish language but I realized once I arrived in Spain I would be learning much more. I had always seen myself as an independent person; however my independence was put to the test in Granada. I was forced to find my way around a city that was so foreign to me and speak a language that I had only been learning in school. I did not back away from the challenge. I took advantage of every chance to converse with locals. While many people take the experience of an extravagant trip to Europe for granted I was adamant about utilizing every minute I was granted to be in Europe.
Upon returning from my stay in Granada, and seeing my best friend for the first time, she told me that I seemed different. It took me a while to figure out how I could possibly be different. I was only gone for five weeks. She was right. I was no longer content with staying in Washington State. I became restless. My trip to Europe had only further ignited my desire to see the world and experience new cultures.
My time in Spain forever changed my view of the world. It opened my eyes to a new culture that I had only read about in books and learned about in school. I fell in love with Spain. I also fell in love with the way Spain changed me. The trip opened my eyes to cultural diversity, increased my maturity level and caused me to become more aware of the way people live elsewhere and the problems they face. It helped me gain a first hand perspective, without the use of the media, on the way people from other countries view America. Furthermore, my parents kept telling me when I returned how proud they were of my accomplishment of studying abroad at the age of 17. That was when I realized that it was the first time in my life that I had ever been so proud of myself; while away I truly became an independent person. I took a great risk and stepped outside of my comfort zone. I am now content with being my own person and I do not need to follow the trends, thoughts, and ideas of my friends and others around. I am my own unique person and I have my own qualities and thoughts to offer to this world and through travel I will make the most of my life.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.