Hello!!! Thank you so much for deciding to read this blog, it means the world to me! As I finish up my spring quarter here at Western Washington University, I find myself extremely excited for the journey I’m about to undertake. This summer I will finally be fulfilling one of my childhood dreams of going to France. I will be studying abroad in Lyon, France, for 4 and a half weeks earning credit for my French minor and traveling as much as possible. After the end of my program, I intend to travel for a bit and make my way to Poland where I will visit family and an old childhood friend for a few weeks, and then finally head back to the States. This will leave me with about 2 months in Europe.
Traveling has always been a passion of mine, and ever since I was little I would dream of all the places I would one day go. France, England, Eygpt (those pyramids, I must see them!!!!), the Caribbean, etc. I have always had the travel bug as they call it. Each summer growing up, I would nag my mom and beg her to take me to a place I wanted to go to. When she would say that it was too expensive, I would complain and beg her all the more. I would tell her that it was my passion, and she would snap back in her native Polish, saying something like “masz drogie pasje” (you have expensive passions). After arguing with her I would begrudgingly accept that we could not afford to travel very far and gladly go where ever we could, even if that meant camping for a weekend.
My family and I did, however, have a few opportunities to travel. My mother works at a hotel and as a result, sometimes we were able to find discounted room rates all across cities in the US (LA, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, San Diego, Las Vegas, D.C, Portland). I also have a few aunts and uncles in eastern Canada, and we were able to visit them a few times as well. Of course, whenever we would get to our destination, my parents both wanted to relax, especially my mom who just wanted to lay on the beach. But no I wanted to explore. I would throw a fit and nag at them to take me to the city to see all the cool artifacts, to go on all the tours, to see and do everything I could do.
Now that I am older and have the opportunity to travel for myself I cannot believe it. Being the person I am I believe this will be an important life experience for me, one in which I will grow and learn from. I have always struggled with anxiety and self-esteem, and when I hit puberty, I found myself struggling with depression (although I did not know it at the time). I struggle with confidence and anxiety to this day, and although I would no longer say I am depressed, there are still days when I struggle. By no means do I believe that this trip will magically make those struggles go away, but this trip does allow me to explore a passion of mine, and that can be extremely therapeutic. I also find myself in a point of my life where I want to explore myself, my identity, who I am, how others see me, what makes me happy, etc. Similarly, I know that studying abroad will not fully answer these deep questions, but I know that exploring this passion is the next step in the process that is finding these answers. Both with my mental health and existential questions I do not want to fall into the trap of thinking that studying abroad is the magic solution, but I do not want to deny the fact that studying abroad will have a meaningful impact on my life. No matter what, I am confident that I will come back a better, more well-rounded, and happier person.
Having these realizations has made me want to document this experience, via this blog and my corresponding vlog. I want to post and film my thoughts, feelings, and emotions so that I can have something to look back on when this is all over, and so I can share this amazing process with my friends and family so they can witness my growth as it happens. I’m also writing my blogs and vlogging, for my own mental health. I love expressing and sharing myself with my friends and family, and so blogging/vlogging will trigger my mind’s reward system. This blog/ vlog series will also act as a journal for me to keep while I am abroad, and I will be able to reflect on the positive aspects of the journey, as well as vent about the negative aspects. Doing this will be extremely cathartic for me. Finally, I was given the opportunity to be able to share my blogs with Western’s study abroad office through their travel writing program, which I am very thankful for. I hope that my stories and experiences are what inspire others to explore their passions.