10 more days until I hop on a flight (by myself) and make a hop, skip, and a jump to Catania airport in Sicily! As the the time comes closer, I feel something a little different each day. Of course, I’m extremely excited about this opportunity that I’ve given myself. However, it’s nerve wracking to know that I can’t change my mind now. I do not regret making the decision to do this at all, but it’s a lot to take in and just go across the world and become an integral part of another family’s life… you know?
Something that I have been asked so many times when talking to people about my trip (and have definitely not given the most complete answer to) is “So… why are you doing this?”. Let me explain…
Back in November, I began to think about my summer plans, and realized that neither my current internship, nor the one that I have next school year, has summer requirements. After changing my major freshman year and working to stay on track to graduate on time, I have never had an opportune time to study abroad. There has also not been any classes available abroad that would make a semester over seas worth it in a financial sense. Traveling abroad has always been something that I want to do, and I have always sworn that I would go for at least a month if I go over, so I began to do research about my options. I was heavily invested in getting an internship abroad after doing a massive amount of research. Of the programs that I was interested in, I interviewed for a few, and was even accepted to the internship that I really wanted, which I would have been doing marketing for a wine company in Italy (a.k.a. my dream job). However, after the planning process was done, I discovered that it would have been way over my budget. Initially, not all hope was lost because I thought that I would be getting a large sum of money back from being overcharged by Duquesne … but turns out that the money that they overcharged me was meant to go towards my sisters account, who also goes to Duquesne.
I was absolutely heartbroken at first because not having that money put everything that I wanted, and committed to, completely out of my reach. I was truly just angry with the world. However, I gave myself ten minutes to feel bad for myself, and then moved onto my next idea.
I always kept the idea of doing a volunteer trip abroad stored in the back of my mind, even far before looking into doing an internship abroad. I always knew that I would enjoy a volunteer trip because I genuinely love helping others, and enjoyed my time immensely when volunteering for Duquesne’s Orientation program. I also wanted to use my other talents and interests, like communication, leadership, and foreign language, so I began research on this topic to discover the options that are out there. I have an extensive background in Spanish, and I want to use this language in any way that I can while I still remember most of it. My major is Integrated Marketing Communications with a Business minor, so I was confident that I could use this experience to fit at least one aspect of my future degree. With all things considered, I found that there is a plethora of companies that are looking for English speaking individuals to live with host families to teach them English. This option was extremely affordable, and the majority of the companies that facilitate the experiences had nothing but wonderful reviews, on a variety of websites. After doing so much research, I felt that Greenheart Travel would be the best fit for me. They emphasize traveling sustainably, and being more than just a tourist when you travel. They seemed to be (and from experience, are) extremely attentive with their participants, and they genuinely care about experiences of each participant.
After a few Skype interviews with the program manager, I was accepted into Greenheart Travel. My program manager, Megan, has been so attentive to my endless questions, and so kind. I am so happy to be traveling through a program that I am proud to represent, and I can absolutely see the effort that was put into finding the best host family for me.
Ultimately, I chose to spend my summer like this because of how important that I feel that it is to give back, and because I want to experience the world. I also felt like I needed to do something like this because I was beginning to feel burnt out from this past year in all regards. Most twenty-somethings go out or do other things to feel alive or get the “experience”, but that just isn’t me, and it never will be. This is my “crazy twenty-something thing”, and I’m completely satisfied with it. I’ve also been asked the question, or given the impression by some people that I’ve told about this, about why I’m not just doing another internship this summer. I’ll graduate with 2 year-long internships, have held the Class President position as a Junior and Senior, have been an Orientation Chair for two years, and be a consecutive Deans List Scholar (haven’t missed a semester). I’m not trying to toot my own horn and brag about myself, but I am confident enough in my accomplishments thus far to take the time to do this. I also consider this an accomplishment in itself. I never considered volunteering abroad “plan B”, but it’s amazing how quickly this experience came together to make me forget about any other plan that I had ever considered, and just seems right.
I’m fairly sure that I’ll never be satisfied with my explanation of why I am teaching English abroad because I have endless reasons as to why, and virtually no reason why not. I’ll leave this here for now, but I’m sure that the topic will come up again!