My Personal Experience and Growth

Young woman standing inside a hall in Versailles

Going on a trip abroad, especially by yourself, can be very intimidating. But there will always be ways you will connect with others. I came on this trip not knowing anyone or having specific expectations of what was going to occur. I knew I wanted to make as many good connections and even friendships as possible.

Culture Shock

The only other countries I’ve been to outside of the United States are Spain and Mexico, so I was very excited to experience different cultures. Going to London first was a great introduction to the culture and for me was not very shocking (the only thing that I had to get used to saying was toilets instead of restroom). However, going to Paris was very shocking. Being in a country where the main language is not English can be scary because it causes a language barrier that adds stress. Luckily, most people in Paris did speak English, but it made me feel a little unprepared and helpless since I was visiting a country that I can’t easily communicate in.

The leaders of the seminars were very helpful with resources and one leader, Timothy, even spoke French so he was able to assist if we needed help communicating. Having experienced leaders who have been on this trip before and have recommendations helps ease the culture shock and fear that comes with it.

Sign reading "South Kensington" station in the London tube.

Making New Friends

I am a pretty sociable person and even sometimes extroverted, but when I am in a different setting with new people, I have introverted tendencies. I am from UCCS and there was only one other girl from my school going, who I didn’t know too well. I was expecting to do a good number of activities with my roommate, but she came on the trip with almost 9 people from her school, so it was hard to find my place. We also had almost every lunch and dinner on our own which was intimidating, but usually people were pretty welcoming with plans.

For the first day or two I was on my own when we had independent time, but by the third day in London I found a group of girls that I really connected with and stayed with for the majority of the trip. Even though many people were on the trip with people from their school that they were friends with everyone was very nice. I know for me sometimes I struggle with putting myself out there, but this trip helped me practice this more and showed me that most of these participants were in the same boat as me, so it wasn’t as scary.

Young women wearing winter coats posing for a group selfie at night

Finding my Confidence

For me it was hard in the beginning because I didn’t really know any of the other participants. Sometimes, I felt uncomfortable asking to join in their plans. Luckily for me, London was the perfect place for me to explore on my own. I realized that this is my trip, and I could do whatever I wanted, and I had freedom by myself. Once I figured out how to use the tube (one of their main forms of public transportation), London felt safe enough for me to go really anywhere I wanted by myself, especially at night.

I learned that being by myself after being with a group of people is very recharging and made me feel confidence because I was on my own schedule. I was able to go to a musical, go to the Lego store, and visit some restaurants I’ve been really wishing to go to all on my own! It was so nice being able to experience this sense of personal journey while enjoying my time with the group.

Being on your own, especially internationally is really scary, but once you find the peace and excitement of it, it allows you to be more open to experiences and even more open to making new friends to share this journey with.

Young woman sitting beside a life-size LEGO Shakespeare figure

Building Rapport

Talking to the leaders of your trip, the executives of the businesses, and talking to the other participants about their personal and professional experience can help you gain critical information and build your overall group of connections. The leaders were from Louisiana, Florida, Alabama, living in Germany, and much more so that allows for great future opportunities. The group of participants ranged from California, Colorado, Louisiana, Alabama, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Chicago and many more! Even though all of us are from different places we were able to connect through what our majors are, hobbies, and much more!

Starting off by having conversations to get to know someone can flower into a great connection and friendship. This trip was the perfect place to get to know people and step outside of your box!

I’m so grateful I went on this trip. Not only did I learn from the seminars, but I learned more about myself in a business and personal standpoint.

Young woman's photo portrait
Grace Martinez

School: University of Colorado Colorado Springs

"I love being able to come together with people from all around the country to be able to share memories we will remember forever."

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