How old are you, what grade are you finishing, and where do you go to school?

I’m 17 and a college freshman at UCCS/Rampart.

How many countries have you traveled to?

I have traveled to eight countries.

What TFT trips have you been on?

Fiji Service and Adventure (13 days) and Alpine Adventure

How have you grown as a person though travel? What has travel taught you?

I have grown as a person through traveling by learning to accept new cultures and explore new avenues that I would of never had the chance to venture if it weren’t for having the opportunity to explore an entirely new environment. You really learn a lot by experiencing first-hand what another culture is like. It’s not the same to learn about it in school, although to actually experience it in real life opens your eyes to new lifestyles and how we share our similarities and differences with a variety of cultures, and in all it’s our curiosity that brings us all together. Traveling has taught me to be more accepting and have more of an open mind to foreign possibilities that come my way.

Funniest travel moment. Go!

One of the funniest travel moments I have took place during my time in Venice on our last night there. My group and I were told to get ready for our final dinner and to dress up nice since we were going somewhere fancy. All the girls and I began to get ready together in one of our hotel rooms. It was hectic, to say the least. However, we all managed to do our hair, put on some nice makeup, and coordinated the perfect outfits to take pictures in. As we began to walk to the restaurant, it started pouring rain and this was no regular rain storm, it was raining as if the sky decided to pour a constant stream of water down from a never ending bucket onto us. We were all cold and wet with mascara running down our faces. We made it to the restaurant, dried our faces and bodies, and began eating while it remained raining. Little did we know, our windows at the hotel were left wide open! When we returned, all of our toiletries, clothes, and other items were soaking wet. Since we really couldn’t do much about it, we all just laughed it off and enjoyed our last night together knowing that the plane ride the next day was going to be endured in damp clothes. We strutted into the airport wearing our damp clothes, not paying any attention to the odd stares we may have gotten. This experience helped my group grow closer and have an everlasting memory of endless rain that drenched our clothes but left us laughing.

Describe a challenge you overcame while traveling, how you overcame it, and how it impacted you positively.

A challenge I faced while traveling was when in Switzerland, my friends and I were at a water park messing around on a floating bounce castle contraption, when a member of my group fell off the contraption and onto my head in the pool. I ended up getting a concussion and stayed the night in a hospital. This experience allowed me to explore an activity that wasn’t on the planned itinerary which was staying in a foreign hospital. I actually enjoyed seeing how different hospitals were in other countries. Although my head hurt a bit, I still participated in almost every activity, making the most out of the time I had left on the trip. Having a concussion not only helped me to have my luggage carried since some of the other group members felt bad, but also since moving too fast made my head hurt, I moved at a slow pace throughout the rest of my trip. By having to go slower than usual, it allowed me to truly live in the moment and take in every view, activity, and meal and really analyze and enjoy it. If I hadn’t gotten a concussion, I may have not enjoyed every moment as much, so really the concussion may have helped me in ways I wasn’t thinking of at the time.

What is something you learned about yourself while traveling?

Something I learned about myself while traveling is that I love helping others, especially children. I learned this during my time in Fiji while volunteering at a local school. The moment we stepped into the school we were greeted with ample amounts of hugs and songs that the children had prepared for us. They were all so friendly and accepting of our help. Their happy smiles lead to my love for children to grow even larger and my need to keep their glowing smiles shinning helped me to come to the conclusion that I love helping out in any way I can to keep others happy.

Name one thing you cannot travel without?

One thing I can not travel without is straws. I know that may sound odd, but they come in handy so often. For instance, while in Fiji one of our hotel guides offered coconuts to us and began to cut some down and make holes in them for us to drink out of. It was hard to not spill most of the coconut water out when tilting it over to drink out of, but luckily I had brought a few straws with me to the island and used them to drink out of the coconuts with no trouble at all. It’s times like these when straws come in handy most and I’ll never leave the country without packing a few in my bag first!

How have you grown as a person though travel? What has travel taught you?

Travel has taught me that there is so much more to the world than I would think. It is easy to get stuck in your own bubble, in your own town, in your own school, but once you leave and see the world, you are put in new situations that you would have never been in. You learn a lot about yourself through these new experiences, and are able to grow as a person.

Three fun facts about yourself!

Three fun facts about myself is that one of my goals is to travel to every country in the world throughout my life; my first time ever going on a boat was during my trip to Fiji; and I taught myself how to swim two weeks before my departure to Fiji – I figured knowing how to swim would be a good asset to have when on an island!

If you were a country, which one would you be and why?

If I were a country I would be Panama. Panama always seems to be celebrating one event after the next and having constant parties and always keeping a cheerful and vibrant attitude that’s shown throughout their culture. I’m a very energetic and happy person, so I feel like Panama and I really relate.

Something you learned about yourself while traveling?

I learned about my passion for language learning. I started taking French because it was a requirement in high school. However, while traveling, I learned how important it is to be able to connect with the local people. That has sparked my desire to minor in French in college, and possibly study abroad. When going to Spain, I learned how much learning a few words in Spanish can make a local person’s day when you are trying to communicate with him or her.