The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.
– St. Augustine
The daughter of one of my best friends is about to embark on the biggest adventure of her young life – studying theatre in London for the summer. The son of that same friend may well be my flatmate for a few weeks this summer, as he is pursuing an internship with Parliament here in Dublin. I cannot begin to express how impressed I am by both of these “kids” – by their passion, their drive, their willingness to step outside their comfort zone. And of course, kudos to their parents for being brave enough to let them go.
I don’t live a life focused on regrets but, let’s admit it, we all have them. And one of my biggest regrets is that I didn’t study abroad when I was in college. Heck, I didn’t even get my first passport until I was thirty. I wonder what doors might have opened for me earlier if I had spent a summer or a semester studying in some foreign land.
Studying abroad wasn’t something that my college focused on when I was a student. When I got out into the real world and met friends who had studied in places like Rome, Venice, London, Paris and Australia, I became aware that I had really missed out on something. Thankfully, my undergraduate institution has changed for the better since my days there – my friend’s daughter is going to London with the same program I studied in when I was there. I like to think that had the summer in London been offered to me my junior year, I would have jumped at the chance – and who knows, maybe I would not have returned and my expat journey would have begun decades earlier. Or maybe not. Silly to think in “what ifs”, I know.
What I do hope is that my nieces and nephews and the kids of my friends and cousins will take the leap and study abroad. (And yes, they are all welcome to stay with me if they happen to study in whatever city I happen to be living in at the time.)
It would make me so happy if some of them might then get the travel bug the way I have. And maybe some of them will even decide to live an expat life in some amazing foreign place. I highly recommend it.