It's been seven years since my first international trip to Brest, France. Six years since Berlin. Five years since Vienna. All foreign-exchange-student experiences. Can't seem to pick which one was my favorite because each experience was purely different. First, shout out to Ma who said "okay Rayray... you can go" when I first asked to travel abroad in high school. It wasn't easy, but with the persistence I had, it seemed as if no one would sleep if I did not participate in the opportunity. #PersistenceOnPoint I worked hard and I wanted to get a sense of a different culture outside of New York.
I was fifteen, a sophomore, and I boarded Continental Airlines with an exchanged-student-type-club in my high-school. I remember my history teacher, Mr. White, casually mentioning the opportunity at the end of class. I stayed to ask questions. I liked what I was hearing. I'd live with a host family for sometime and they'd come and do the same later in a month's time with my family. Looking back, this I can say this was the perfect opportunity to steer my love for travel and a stepping stone of what to expect when traveling alone. And while abroad, something just...clicked. As a teenager abroad, my sub-conscience was awakened. Things that I knew but never gave thought to, I then began to acknowledge and appreciate. I gave a conscience thought about myself, my family, new friends and my cultures. Here are a couple my younger-self reminded me of-
1. People think in different languages
2. English is a language many people want to learn.
3. People are interested in your culture
4. You think you have it bad?...hmmmm
5. Having a passport is a privilege!
6. Knowing more than one language is something not to take for granted (not in the least)
7. Adventure is what you make of it
8. You can embrace culture and be yourself
9. You can be of two different cultures and embrace them both. (You don't have to pick one)
10. Pictures bring back so many memories
11. Friends are the family you choose to have
12. Home sick? nah. I'm good
13. There is mixture in culture
14. There is mixture in life
15. You can value your me-time and have close friends
16. Happiness is a plus when you travel and meet new people, making life long friends.
17. Friendships can be kept through any distance
I can think of so many other things, but these couple of facts are probably the main resignations to my traveling-teenage-thoughts. They are recorded in my travel journals. And I thank my teenage-foreign-excahngee-oversees experience for that.