#TBT: The Trip That Changed My Life

Spain 2002

There are a few things that may not be common knowledge about me. One being, my mom and I have always been super duper close. I know I have written a million times on here about how close we are (she was my Maid of Honor, for Pete's sake!) but even growing up,  I was that kid that would scream if she left the room. And not the kid that would scream for 5 minutes and then get over it. No, I screamed until she came back. Even if it was the next day. Even if you left me with family members. My Dad used to say they never fully cut the umbilical cord. 

Another thing that may not be known about me, is that I was super awkward growing up. Probably no more awkward than most people, but it took me awhile to really "come into my own." My dad passed away suddenly and unexpectedly 5 days after Christmas in my 8th grade year (I was 14) so my Freshman year of high school was even more terrible and awkward than normal. I remember never feeling as alone as I did in the months following his death. My mom and I dealt with it in different ways, and I remember praying specifically for friends. True friends, because I felt so incredibly lonely.

So anyway, all of that to say that traveling all the way to Europe with a group of people that I had never met is not exactly something that most people would have expected me to do at 15 years old.  I had barely left my mom's side my entire life, let alone the country. And putting me in social situations where I didn't know anyone was enough to make me hyperventilate and break out in hives. But that's precisely what I did -- I signed up to go to Europe with a group of people I had never met.

My Spanish teacher announced that she was taking a group of students on a trip to Spain and France that summer. Typically Freshman don't sign up (I was only 1 of 2 who went), but it intrigued me -- mainly because the itinerary included Paris and I had always wanted to go there (I used to be obsessed with the Olsen twins -- Passport to Paris, anyone?!) So, I signed up.

The only person I knew going was my Spanish teacher, and having never been out of the country I had no idea what to expect. The trip lasted 10 days, and even though the itinerary changed to exclude Paris, it was amazing. I never had a desire to go to Spain but I loved every single second of it.  

I did a lot of growing up those days in Spain. I can't even explain exactly what happened, but the entire experience literally changed me as a person. I was completely out of my comfort zone, made tons of new friends (many of whom I still keep in touch with to this day!), and found a confidence I had never known before. It's amazing that traveling can do that to a person!

My Sophomore year of high school was probably my favorite of them all (or at least topped with my Senior year.) It was a complete 180 from my Freshman year. I had friends. I had confidence. I'm sure I was still awkward, but I owned it. I learned that I could push myself to experience new things on my own and have the time of my life. 

There's just something about seeing a new place and experiencing new things that I believe changes you. I had always desired to travel, but never thought I would be able to go to somewhere like Europe. Going to Spain sparked an even bigger desire to see the world, and not only that, but it taught me that it was actually possible. 

Since then I've been fortunate enough to see a lot more of the world, but Spain will always hold a special place in my heart.