I really regret studying abroad… Or do I?
Okay… so maybe regret isn’t the best word. But my year-long experience studying abroad ignited a flame of passion deep inside my veins. It sparked an insatiable case of wanderlust. I have a constant craving to seek out new experiences, immerse in new cultures, try new foods, and see all that this beautiful Earth has to offer. Even as I am on a trip of a lifetime, exploring the national parks of America, I can’t help but plan future adventures. I am graduated, single, have no commitments or employment, and have managed to save up a pretty significant “travel fund” specifically for this purpose. What better time to leave behind the comforts of home and explore all that the world has to offer!
Dickinson College allowed me the opportunity to study Marine Resource Management in Turks and Caicos Fall of 2014, and Wildlife Management in Tanzania. It was a year beyond my wildest dreams – from diving with sharks in the Caribbean to camping in the Serengeti alongside lions and hyenas. It was a year of a lifetime, and changed my outlook on life. These experiences allowed me to know what it was like to live life to the fullest, by doing what makes you happy. I have such a passion for new adventures, and have since been seeking out ways to try new things.
I have since conducted research on Maui, living alone on this gorgeous island, always planning weekend trips and afternoon activities. I travelled to Belize through a Dickinson service trip, working at schools in order to teach children about sustainable agriculture. I camped and hiked in the Smoky Mountains through a Dickinson biology course to learn about the national park’s unique flora. I also spent my winter break on Oahu, making the most of every single day, with trying out new hikes, scuba diving sites, beaches, and restaurants.
I have never been so in love with life until I allowed myself to face my insecurities and fears and break out of my shell. I have learned how important it is to do things that might be uncomfortable. It is so easy to live a life of comfort, never leaving the ordinary. But it is truly fulfilling to step out of that comfort bubble and try new things. This past year I jumped out of a plane in Pennsylvania to check skydiving off of my bucket list. I swam with sharks, facing one of my biggest childhood fears. I joined new clubs and organizations, which allowed me to meet some of the coolest people I know.
If your dreams don’t scare the sh*t out of you, you aren’t dreaming big enough. I have so many hopes for my future. I aspire to help save the oceans, spreading conservation to local communities. I strive to see different parts of the globe that I have not yet explored. I dream big, and that is what makes me so ambitious. So I encourage you to think about what goals you have for the future. Write them down. And brainstorm ways you can reach these goals. Never give up on your dreams, and I can almost guarantee that with a little time and motivation, you can achieve the impossible.
So, do I really regret studying abroad? Absolutely not. But my bank account might not be so pleased.
Lyndsey Tanabe (@lynds_sea) is a Marine Science PhD Student in Saudi Arabia. This story was published on June 10, 2016, on Lyndsey’s blog, adventures (available here), and has been republished here with her permission.