For most of my time growing up, traveling meant pretty much going to one place, and that was driving to Florida every couple years or so. These were trips that, looking back, I did cherish as they were the last trips our family did being all together for an entire trip. There were many other places that I wanted to see, a lot of things that looked really cool to visit, but I honestly thought I would never make it to them. I wanted to start seeing more… but I didn’t really know how to go about it.
Eventually, a few years after finishing high school, I finally started to branch out. Road trips were how I first started traveling to see some of these things I always wanted to see. I went on a couple with some of my family, and eventually, a friend of mine from high school. Going on road trips to places like Bryce Canyon and Yellowstone were some of the best times in my life!
Flash-forward to a little less than a year ago. I heard about the IBS study program through alumni ambassadors at our school that went on previous seminars in Europe and Asia. Having never been out of the States before I was genuinely curious. However, I was also very nervous about the idea, having not done much of this kind of travel in my own country let alone abroad. I was also worried about traveling with others I didn’t know. I’ve only traveled with family or one other friend before this and never with anyone I did not know.
Trip to SE Asia
I am intrigued by a few things in the Southeast Asia program. The structure of the IBS programs seemed like it gave a nice balance of free time with guidance, and after doing the program, I can say it did work out that way! The time frame was also very good. It allowed me to do the trip over break, without getting in the way too much with my upcoming spring classes, and it was a great taste for my first trip abroad; not too short or too long. I chose the Thailand/Vietnam trip over Europe for some of these reasons but I felt like this particular trip was going to have a bigger impact on me. I wanted to go to the place that I’d be least likely to visit on my own in the future.
There was certainly a lot to gain for me for taking on this trip, and it was such a crucial opportunity, I had to do it despite some of my initial reservations! There’s no better way to learn and experience new cultures than to actually be a part of it all… and this was arguably the highlight learning point for the program for me. The learning chances of talking to executives in companies was amazing. But I wanted to continue building and growing on something that I enjoy, becoming a more adept traveler, and grow on a personal level from putting myself in a situation that I once couldn’t see myself in.
By the end of the trip…
I was trying food I never thought I would try and was saying simple phrases in the local languages. Food was a little bit of a concern for me. I am a bad picky eater at home, and I couldn’t hide it on the trip. The seafood in Vietnam was my favorite thing overall. If I lived there I would eat a lot of it! At first, I would start practicing the simple hello and thank you stuff, but at the moment… I would forget or have some fear I would say things slightly wrong. Making mistakes is inevitable. This is also something many company executives shared with us too and even shared mistakes they made. I learned to drop some of the fear as the program went on.
If someone asked me about IBS study abroad programs I would highly encourage going. There is truly something to gain for everyone from a trip like this regardless of who you are. The execution of the itinerary and planning from the leaders was also very smooth… I got a feel for things a lot faster than I thought I would personally. Whether you are on your first abroad trip or have been around the world, everyone had a great time!