In the summer of 2008, I did something bold, something unexpected, and something extraordinary: I went to Spain. Now this may not seem like a big deal. But to an almost 16-year-old who is an only child, has never traveled without her parents let alone to another country, it is a pretty big deal. I was there for 1 ½ weeks. In that time I had a lot of fun and made some great memories. But the real lessons learned didn’t hit me until after I came home. My trip to Spain helped me reach a higher level of independence, maturity, and the desire to take control of my life.
The first lesson learned while traveling through Spain was becoming more independent. Although we had chaperones, my parents were not with me. At first I experienced anxiety at the thought of traveling without my parents. Since we are very close and spend a lot of time together, I couldn’t imagine being apart from them for a long time. However, as the trip continued, it became easier getting used to not having them around. I realized that this is how it will be when I go away to college. My parents will not be around to hold my hand, telling me what to do and when to do it. I will be on my own, forced to grow up, which is something that I am looking forward to.
The second lesson learned was that I have reached a higher maturity level. While on my trip, I was responsible for getting myself up each morning, adhering to the itinerary, and managing my money. After my return home, I now wake up on my own, I am more diligent in time management with my school schedule, and I budget my money carefully.
The last lesson learned was the desire to take control of my life. As I prepare for college, I am finally figuring out who I am and what I want out of life. Before Spain my view point of the world was limited. I thought everything began and ended in California. Now I realize that there is so much more beyond my backyard. There are more opportunities than I could have ever imagined.
I went to Spain with the expectation of learning more about the culture, history and language. I came back from Spain with a better understanding of myself. I learned to be more independent, mature and the desire to take control of my life. I encourage everyone to make time to travel. In addition to having a good time and learning about a new place, you may also learn something new about yourself.