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Have you ever dreamed of traveling the world? Well, I have! I had always imagined
of flying to Paris and London and faraway places. But, those seem like rather
farfetched dreams, right? I mean, I was only fourteen years old at the time. Little did I
know that my dreams would come true.
One chilling night in December, my family and I were on our way home from a
Christmas party. We stopped to check the mail and there was a letter with my name
on it! I began to scream as I skimmed over the page. It began to read, “Katie is invited
to travel and study in England, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands in the summer
of 2009.” I could hardly believe my eyes. I could not pass up this amazing opportunity!
I was so honored and excited to be traveling with People to People. People to
People is a student ambassador program that was started by President Dwight D.
Eisenhower. He wished for kids all across America to be able to travel the world and
find peace through understanding. Our plan was to travel to Holland and Belgium.
After Belgium, we would make our way to Paris and Rouen, France. Next, we would hit
Normandy Beach, Omaha Beach, and the American Cemetery. Our journey would
continue with an overnight ferry ride across the English Channel to England. In
England, we would visit Oxford and London. I was psyched about these two weeks!
Our itinerary was filled with many activities. Let me walk you through two of the most
memorable experiences and the life lessons I learned from them.
As some of you may know, the Dutch are known for getting around town by bike. So,
we had to go bike riding…a five mile bike ride…by busy traffic! Let’s just say, I didn’t
know how to ride a bike until two weeks before the trip! I was petrified. I tried to get out
of it, but the instructors insisted that I try. Luckily, there was a pro to help me. I fell a
few times, but I got back up. About half way through, I started to get the hang of it! This
experience taught me that when you fall in life and it looks like you’re at rock bottom
get back up and try again. Hang in there! Things will start getting easier. Now, I’m still
not a great bike rider at all, but I know that when I fall I can get back up and try again.
One of the better experiences that I had and will always cherish was being at the
tip-top of the Eiffel Tower. As the world opened up before me I thought, “This is
beautiful! Everyone should be able to experience this.” In that moment, I felt like I really
was in Europe. I looked at all creation and realized I am so blessed. I learned we
should soak up every moment of time and treasure every second. “…What is your life?
It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” –James
During my adventures in Europe, I believe I grew more confident and educated. I
feel that I can do anything in life and be successful. My travel experience meant the
world to me and has opened up many doors and opportunities. My words of advice
would be to follow your dreams. Dreams do come true! Keep working hard, have fun,
and take in every moment! “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it you will land
among the stars.” –Les Brown
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