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

I am 19 and finishing up my freshman year at Shenandoah University.

What TFT trips have you been on?
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I went on my first TFT trip over the summer and it was the Peru Discovery and Service program!

How have you grown as a person and what have you learned though travel?

I have grown as a person through travel by learning to have more patience. I have learned that it’s okay to wait and have lag time and that if something happens to go wrong, to be patient when seeking help. Bad weather happens and flights get cancelled. If things always went smoothly, then the adventure wouldn’t exist. It has also taught me to have compassion. The friendliness of strangers taught me to be compassionate. People who had never spoken to me, knew nothing about me and didn’t owe me a thing, would repeatedly go out of their way to help me.

What is the biggest lesson travel has taught you?
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The biggest lesson travel has taught me is to see things with open eyes. Traveling can make you see the world differently.  Unfortunately,  it’s  easy to judge a country and its people by the stereotypes. The only way to beat these misconceptions is to experience the place for yourself and have an open mind about other ways of life.

Tell us about a challenge you overcame while traveling, how you overcame it, and how it impacted you positively.
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A challenge I over came while traveling is my shyness. Growing up, I was never the type of person to go up and strike up a conversation with someone new. I was easily overwhelmed by talking to people I didn’t know. As I grew older, I definitely broke out of my shell a fair bit, but it wasn’t until I started travelling that I really gained a massive amount of confidence. When I tell someone nowadays that I used to be terribly shy, I’m always met with much surprise, as I’m now the complete opposite.   The trips I have gone on forced me outside of my Virginia bubble and into the unknown. Meeting other people who share the love of travel and hearing their stories and places they’ve been has really helped me to overcome my shyness and now I embrace meeting new people.

What do you travel for?
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I travel to challenge myself. Traveling pushes people to their limits and gets them outside their comfort zone. You’ll discover how resourceful you are when you’re exposed to new places, people, and experiences. I also travel for my craving of adventure and traveling lets me tap into that craving.

If there was one thing you wish you knew and would tell others about traveling abroad before you went on your first trip, what would it be?
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Pack half of what you think you will need. I had overpacked and ended up not even using most of what I packed. It is so much easier to travel light and not have to worry about lugging around a big suitcase and a lot of stuff. Hand wash your clothes if you need to. Also, if you are going to Peru during their winter, bring lip balm. Your lips will thank you!

What is one thing you cannot travel without?
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A good pair of walking shoes or hiking boots.

What is your favorite place and why?

My favorite place is the small Virginia town of Luray. It’s where my grandparents live on their small farm, it’s where I go and help sell the fresh vegetables that I helped my grandma pick at the local farmers market every Saturday morning, it’s where everyone knows your name, it’s where the mountains surround you like a shield and the smell of fresh air surrounds you the moment you step outside. It’s where I can go to escape reality and enjoy a slower pace of life.

Any advice to offer a first time TFTer?
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Just enjoy your time and remember to put your phone down and savor the moment.  You can always see pictures of places, but you might only get to experience it once. And don’t be afraid to try new things. You will regret it later on if you don’t.

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