When I think back to one of the most defining moments of my life the first thing that comes to mind is studying abroad.

In 2010, I spent the summer after my junior year of college traveling across China but getting there wasn’t easy.

As someone who had only flown once earlier that year and never been out of the country I was definitely nervous. I would be traveling to literally the other side of the world with a group of people I did not know. It also didn’t help that my family wasn’t very supportive of the idea either.

From the moment I learned about the programs my university offered abroad my freshman orientation, I knew I wanted to go.

So why China? Well for one I wanted to go somewhere completely random and I’ve always had this little obsession with China. Not quite sure where it stemmed from.

Anywho so I made the decision. Committed. Told my family I was going, against their wishes. And next thing I know I’m hopping on the plane for a total of 18hrs of flight time to Beijing.

While there I visited many cities, Beijing, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Shanghai and Nanjing where I completed my coursework in Elementary Chinese Language at Nanjing Normal University.

This trip and this summer away really changed my life in a positive way. It allowed me to get out of the country, try new foods, and learn about the culture. It also forced me out of my shell because I didn’t known anyone I had to build relationships with those I was traveling with.

I gained independence by doing what I wanted instead of allowing my family to hold me back. And most of all it allowed my love for travel to bud. Now I make sure I go somewhere new every year.

Travel! Get out and see the world and it will change your life for the better.