At the start of 2017, I promised myself that I would push myself to do things that scared me. Last summer, I decided to move to a new city alone for an internship, and it created a renewed sense of independence within myself. Navigating a new life in this city helped me grow as an individual and reminded me of how exciting life can be if you let it. As I returned to Tuscaloosa in the fall, I was eager to create new adventures and continue to push myself in new ways.
I have always wanted to study abroad, but I always made up excuses about why it would not work for me. These excuses were mostly fueled by my fear of the unknown. Before this semester, I had never left the United States before or owned a passport. In fact, no one in my family has ever traveled to Europe, so I did not even know where to start with the planning.
One of my closest friends studied abroad in Sevilla, Spain last spring, so I asked her for guidance over many cups of Starbucks coffee. She encouraged me to commit to a semester abroad and helped me realize that it would in fact be possible. After looking at various programs, I decided to study in Prague, Czech Republic. Many people have asked me how I chose Prague, and I always tell them that my decision was rooted in my promise to myself to do new things that scare me. I originally knew very little about the Czech Republic or even eastern Europe, and I was repeatedly told how difficult the Czech language can be. As a result, I knew that I would have more opportunity to grow in Prague than most other cities. Since my arrival, I have enrolled in a Czech language course at my university that has helped me assimilate into my new surroundings and have come to love the Czech culture.
This semester, I am most excited about focusing on myself. I am eager to dedicate four months to self-exploration and my own happiness. Each day abroad I strive to try something new. Whether trying a new restaurant, new excursion, or a different route home from school, I want to know that I have pushed myself out of my comfort zone on a regular basis. Even after such a short amount of time here, I cannot believe that I almost passed up this opportunity out of fear. I am so grateful to be able to study and explore this new part of the world, and I am eager to see how this crazy adventure changes me for the better.