Last month, we issued a call for your stories about international education. This week, we'll be featuring some of the best on the NAFSA blog. You can read all of the stories on the Share Your Story page on www.ConnectingOurWorld.org.
Christine Moore is a student at Shawnee State University, where she is majoring in sociology and pursuing minors in social work and Spanish. While studying abroad in Spain, she also traveled to London and Rome. This is Christine's story:
I dreamt of far-off places; there were no limits to my imagination, only in my means to arrive at these destinations (at least, that is what I thought at one point in my life). It was not exactly negativity holding me back, just my concept of my ability to overcome the financial obstacles related to traveling abroad. You see, I am a first-generation college student from the lands of Appalachia. The idea of attending college was somewhat far-fetched early in life, much less crossing international borders. Fortunately though, with hard work, determination, and a few gracious people, I was accepted into a university.
It was mid-way through my college career that I met some amazing people from Spain, one who actually lived in the same dorm as me. That first semester with them flew by and the thought of having to say good-bye did not sit well with me. We all knew that we wanted to see each other again someday; we just were not sure about the details: the when or the where. That "where" stuck in my mind. Through much encouragement from my friends and teachers, I decided to take a chance and apply to study in Spain.
To be honest I never thought that I would be chosen, but luckily there were some people who did believe. One year ago, in August 2009, I set out on my journey to Castellon, Spain. I spent a short four months there, but that was all that I needed to change my life. During that time, I learned the language, learned from the people whom I had met (those from Spain and many others from around the world), learned that things which once seemed impossible are not all that out of reach, and most importantly learned about my potential.
Months have passed since my return to the States; I have told my stories to anyone willing to know more, especially to my students in the UBMS program who are potentially first-generation students like myself. I try to encourage others to take that chance, no matter how scary or impossible it seems, and to study abroad at some point in their lifetime. What you have to gain from experiencing life abroad will outweigh any of those fears or misconceptions. You have the ability to learn and to grow in ways you never even imagined.