My first international trip was with my family to Northern Ireland. We drove to different regions of the country, including Killarney, Dublin, and Kilkenny. Embarking on visits to such historical sites as the Cliffs of Moor, Bunratty Castle, The Blarney Stone, and the ancient Bee Huts taught me to better appreciate my Irish heritage. We spent the nights dining on chips and enjoying the Celtic rock music of the local bands performing in the pubs, indulging in the culture.
Not long after Ireland, I was lucky enough to experience Mexico. During our stay, we took a trip out to Sayulita, a beautiful small town right on the coast, to surf among locals and eat homemade burritos. There was also a small market managed by one of the city’s founding American Indian tribes. The handmade bead designs were a cultural testimony to the pride and talent the People took in their craft.
Only a few months later, for Spring Break, I embarked on a trip to Italy with a group of twenty other students. We experienced our first taste of Italy while briefly walking through the streets of Assisi, snacking on Margherita pizzas and buying Italian glass jewelry. Moving on to Florence and Rome, we saw the Coliseum and the Accademia, home of Michelangelo’s marvelous David. We even got a glimpse of Pope Benedict XVI as he greeted the crowd outside the Vatican. While city scoping from the top of St. Peter’s Basilica, we met a group of Bulgarian students. As we chitchatted with them about our different grade levels and hobbies, I kept catching bits and pieces of conversation from other tourists who passed by, marveling at how many different people were there, all from different places.
Returning home, I took on extra hours at work, saving up enough money my junior year to go to England and France. While in England, we sat in on a meeting of Parliament and explored Westminster Abbey. We were lucky enough to see The Queen of England and the President of Mexico, who was making a State visit at the time. The display of nationalism exhibited by the Mexicans swept me up in the excitement of the diplomatic union of the two countries.
One night in France, two other students and I wandered into a bakery across the street from the restaurant where we had dined, not realizing until later that it was actually a Turkish bakery. As we excitedly passed around pieces of desserts similar to funnel cakes soaked in honey to other members of our group, I realized I had never been to a Turkish bakery before, even though America is known as the “melting pot” of people. I continued to try different things, asking for a side order of escargot at dinner, disregarding and disproving the common belief that it tastes horrible. I learned that for some aspects of culture, traveling is the only real way to experience them.
My recent international travel has given me a better understanding of the value of global citizenship. Because knowledge is enriched with experience, I’ve become more aware of the importance of certain aspects of culture. My travel has motivated me to learning a second language and further my diplomacy skills. I’m prepared to take the knowledge I’ve gained and apply it to succeeding in college, broadening my horizons at school, and learning to comprehend even more of the interdependent world.
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