I believe that everyone has that one place they want to go and that one thing that they want to do in life. Mine was to travel to Switzerland and ski the Alps.
There I was, standing 14,000 feet up on Jungfrau with a t-shirt, ski pants, suspenders, and my skis. I discovered 4,200 miles away that this is my one place and my one thing to do, a time when I am most happy with the incredible chance to do something amazing outside the classroom.
Traveling abroad was the most beautiful thing I have ever done. In 10 days, I learned so much about myself and the world. I want to explore more places. My new desire in life is to explore as much of the world as I can.
If skiing is not your thing, don’t give up on Europe. The region is so diverse that just about any wish can be fulfilled. Erin Dietrick (`17) is an active traveler and has fallen in love with traveling abroad. Her favorite place to visit has been Ireland because her ancestral roots began there. Dietrick said, “It was really cool to see where my family started.”
Dietrick has traveled to many exotic places throughout her life and she has experienced many different cultures. She said, ”You are immersed into the culture. Instead of just looking at pictures of the places in the classroom, magazines, and the television, you are physically there and interacting with people.”
Maggie Kubicek (`17) recently visited France and she learned to love to try new things, including food. She said, “The food is great. I learned that it is important to try new things, especially new food.” While Kubicek was in France, she learned that “Google maps is your friend,” because traveling in Europe is completely different than anywhere in America.
In Switzerland, I took a train, bus, or gondola every place I went. This was unlike traveling in Cleveland where my common mode of moving around is a Toyota Camry. Having gone to Zurich, Gridelwald, Bern, Interlaken, and Thun, I can say that each city was completely unique.
While not having to drive gives you a chance to get over that jet lag, when you and your family are sprinting to get onto your train that leaves at 10:13 and it is 10:12, it can be stressful, especially with two extra-large suitcases (one with a broken handle dragging behind you). True story. Three hours into the 13 hour day of traveling, I broke my suitcase.
When I get on the right train at the right time, I experience true bliss. I know it would be worse to be sitting at my desk and writing a paper that is due at 12:00 and it is 11:59. On this trip, I learned that it is okay to miss a train, because I can just get on the next one. In this life, I don’t have to sweat the small stuff.
For years, I searched “Best Things To Do in Switzerland” and I hoped to find the most outrageous activity that would scare my parents. I did just that. I ran off a mountain with a parachute and flew over the Swiss Alps with my French pilot named “Peaches.” This is a memory that I will treasure for the rest of my life because I learned how to conquer my fears. The view and the serenity I experienced flying over the alps changed my life and will stay with me forever.
Find your place and thing to do. You can learn so much outside the classroom.