Summer after freshman year: eating pho in Vietnam.
Summer after sophomore year: falling out of a plane in Israel.
Summer after junior year: wandering around in the woods.
Of course, this wandering is a little more purposeful than your average wandering. We’re on a mission to find the leaders within us. Isn’t it odd that you have to go somewhere else to find something inside yourself? But I guess “Leadership in the Himalayas” makes for a much more attractive study abroad program than “Leadership in Toledo”.
I guess college really is just wandering, in the end. I got to Pitt thinking business school and went on Plus3 Vietnam because of it. Then I realized that I wasn’t so fond of business and wound up switching to political science and history, where I studied a lot about Asian religions and cultures. Ultimately, this curiosity about other cultures led me back to a business school study abroad program. If that’s not wandering, I don’t know what is.
At first I want to say something along the lines of “oh I’ve grown so much since first going abroad with the business school and now I’m so different and I’m not the same person anymore and blablabla”. But that’s not entirely true.
I have grown a lot since that night we landed in Ho Chi Minh City. I’ve ran two organizations on campus which has given me insight into myself and how I interact with others. I have expanded my comfort zone to include sky diving, which I never ever thought I’d do. I have tested the limits of how much work I can handle and, each time I have thought I hit the limit, pressed on to prove myself wrong. All of this has boosted my confidence and challenged my vision of myself. I have certainly grown since Ho Chi Minh.
However, I would be missing the point if I said that I wasn’t still that same freshman who got off that plane in Ho Chi Minh. Because the moment before I boarded the plane to Ho Chi Minh, I was looking back at a moment three years before when I boarded a plane to Tel Aviv. That moment was just as real as this moment is. And two years from now, I may be looking back on this moment and thinking about how much I’ve grown since I landed in Delhi.
This entire time I have been the same person wandering around, picking up new experiences and putting down old ones. I am excited for the Himalayas because I will be backpacking for the first time in my life, which a couple years ago I probably would have said I could go without. I am excited to take a few pictures along the way, eat some good food, and talk to some interesting people. I am excited to be testing my leadership of others and my self-leadership. I look forward to learning, but I have no illusions that this is the end of the line. I look forward to learning in the Himalayas as I do to learning on whatever other opportunity I wander to down the road.
And yes, I understand and am a little scared of trying all of these new things. But I guess, in the long run, that’s part of the fun. After all, it’s a dangerous business walking out your front door.