In 2003 I did a study abroad program through the University of Wyoming Honors Program to study Shakespeare in England and Italy. Growing up in NY, I'll admit I never really 'got' the fascination with NY as a tourist-destination, but the first time I was in London and saw Big Ben with my own eyes, my heart was lit on fire and I wanted to see and experience more! It was on this trip where I learned how great the European train system is (day trip to Wales!) which became very useful information in the following years for me. This trip changed my life and turned me into a ‘traveler.’
Two years later, when the University of Wyoming Honors Program had the opportunity to study Modern Japanese Society and Culture in Japan, I jumped at the opportunity! This course involved living at Kobe College in Nishinomiya, and also a homestay where I spent time with a family in Osaka. While in England and Italy I could read the language/alphabet, Japan was a whole new experience -I learned how to stay a few words before I arrived but was lost for most things language. But here I learned the power of human kindness, how far a smile can go, and was able to make my way though the days over there with pointing to food, saying 'arigatou' (thank you) and smiling!
In 2006 I was nearing graduation and even though I had two degrees and some passionate work ideas, my heart was calling me to go abroad. Specifically, to a part of the world my ancestors on my dad's side were from: Scandinavia. I knew I wanted to truly learn about the culture and customs and life in the area, and that a few days would not give me the experience my heart was craving. I found out about Syddansk University in Odense, Denmark, and that even though I was technically graduating from university in May, that I could still 'be a student' through my college and take classes on Danish and Scandinavian languages and culture. I got to spend time with an amazing family who is friends with my father, and travel from Friday to Monday to a different country every week. I cried when the program was over because Denmark truly became a second-home for me!