I have spent two years at The University of Alabama. During that time, I have discovered more about myself than I ever thought possible. I have become more independent, open-minded, and fearless (or at least more willing to conquer my fears). Most importantly, I learned that great personal growth doesn’t come to those who are comfortable and complacent. While it is always nice to have the safety of your comfort zone to return to as you please, there is so much more to see, to do, and to learn in the world than what you have already experienced.

I initially pulled myself out of my comfort zone when I decided to spend my four years of college nine hours away from home. I could have chosen any great school close to home and had the same friends as in high school. I can imagine I would be as comfortable as a new college student could be. Looking back, Alabama was the best decision I could have made. I have learned new things about myself everyday and improved upon qualities that I already had. Additionally, I have been searching for opportunities to expand my comfort zone since my initial decision. I have traveled to Ecuador for a service-learning program with UA, where I camped “solo” for 24-hours in the Andes Mountains and helped to rebuild a “chocolate house” in the Amazon Rainforest. I did a back flip out of a plane while twelve thousand feet in the air. I rocked the Ellie Goulding hairstyle for months, after my surgeon had to partially shave my head for a brain and ear surgery. I learned a little bit more about myself with each of these events and all of the small things in between.

I still have many more experiences to come, including my next adventure to Germany. Going to another country is always a shock. It is not easy to to enter a foreign country with a different way of life, but I think the personal growth comes from the reaction to all of these new and exciting changes. How you adjust to and accept the culture adds pieces to your own puzzle.

Ultimately, I decided to travel to Germany to find these pieces to my puzzle. I am so excited to take in the German culture in which my family is rooted and to find the similarities or differences between the two. I hope that I will better understand myself and share what I learned with my family and friends. Adventure is out there and I can’t wait to find it!