Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Importance

At last the time is here. Studying abroad in Ireland...
The once in a lifetime opportunity. The experience that will forever change me. 

Who'd of truly thought that I'd make it here? You know, doing what I want to do. Had you known me seven or eight years ago, your perspective of me might be different. I was a regular kid who attended public school till 8th grade, when I moved to the private system and repeated 8th grade. That private school was Rumsey Hall and it forever changed my life. Education had a completely different meaning. The material wasn't unlike what I would've been learning in public school, and the pace was relatively similar... that wasn't it. The difference laid in how much the community as a whole valued education, which translated to a rather truthful tradition: care about school. If you care, you will succeed. And that’s what I did, coming from a background of not caring about school at all. I was a C student at best throughout my career in public school, but in private it hovered around a B (...and that might be a little generous). If you want a quick laugh, here is a picture of me around this transitional time:

(I kept the girls in to make it a little less funny)

This is not to say public school is worse, or that private school is some kind of saving grace, because its not. In fact, there are many days I wish I never went at all. I felt guilty leaving my friends, the original friends. It’s a hard thing to toil with while growing up with divorced parents. Do I take moms side or do I take dads side? Do I stay with my friends or do I go to private school and, maybe, make new friends? It was too much mental stress during the awkward middle school years. But that is beside the point, because what I'm saying is that my private school experience is what made me value education. People experience this in different ways; sometimes it's with guidance or sometimes with a sudden spark of curiosity. For me, it was guidance that made me fully aware. The guidance made me realize that I didn't need to make decisions between this and that, like my parents or friends, but that I needed to make decisions based on what was best for me as a human. Choosing private school was the first step towards the success I now lay in today. 

What does that have to do with me studying abroad? 
In the span of seven years I spent in private school, my mind opened. I found interests. I found out all the traveling I had done in my life up unto that point was worth something. I'm lucky enough to have the greatest father in the world, who blessed me with opportunity after opportunity to travel alongside him while he worked for Zurich Insurance. As a child I marveled in the all the different places because, you know, romanticism and all that (see: W. Wordsworth and S. Coleridge). But for real...I was able to see places like Singapore, China, Germany, Austria, and Puerto Rico before the age of ten. People who are in my life on a day-to-day basis don't realize how much I relished in those experiences, especially as a kid, and how much they are apart of who I am. Every one of those trips has been with me ever since. While these trips really opened my eyes to the world, in a physical sense, I didn't understand how valuable it was until private school. Private school taught me that I could use education with these experiences to create myself.

College is just the cement to this already structured foundation. Here I've expanded even more. Coming from a rather conservative background, I've found myself becoming more open to liberal ideals. Before coming to college, I'd of considered myself a conservative, but now I am a libertarian. It was a combination of blinding myself to other peoples opinions, and of course my surroundings. Though my pops might like to poke fun at my changed persona, which has admitted changed somewhat, I am not different; I am just more aware of who I am. If you want another quick laugh, to perhaps see how much I've changed since the photo above, here is a much more current one:

(yes, those are women's sunglasses) 

I mean what is the purpose of traveling around the world and seeing symbolic monuments, being on landscapes that people dream of, and meeting new people, if you don't understand what this can bring out in you. It can bring out new life, a purpose, a reason to keep learning and a reason to keep going. Traveling is the best drug around. Every time you hop off a plane, it’s a new high. Every person you meet is a new high. Every piece of history you see is a new high. I mean literally every single time... and its because the world is so vastly unique that new discoveries are endless.  

And that’s what I am trying to do in Ireland. I am going to a place I've never been to before and expect nothing but a new outlook on life. Going in with expectations has consistently proven to disappoint me, so what’s the point of continuing this trend? Using everything I've ever learned about the importance of education and experience, I will make this a trip of "conscious endeavor", as Thoreau said, and you're welcome to be a part of it.

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