Blog by Aspasea McKenna, UW Bothell Business Administration, Study Abroad–Japan
If There’s A Will There’s A Way
My name is Aspasea McKenna, a junior at UW Bothell (class of 2013), where I am majoring in Business Administration. I’ve been in Japan since September on a year-long Study Abroad trip. While studying in Japan, I will be blogging about my experience and hope it provides you with insight into travel as well as how we might engage one another as global citizens.
Travelling has got to be one of the most expensive hobbies that I ever could have picked up. But the thing about a hobby is that no amount of money can stop you from doing it. As our parents have been drilling into our heads since we were children to remind us to always reach for the stars: If there’ s a will, there’s a way. That’s how I feel about travelling; If a friend invites me one week in advance to join her and her friends to backpack through Vietnam and Cambodia, I say, “Count me in!” If I read about the five day, strenuous, death-defying trek up the mountain of Kilimanjaro or through the thick foliaged, bee and leech infested jungles of Pahang, Malaysia, I say, “Hell yeah!” and tell myself that I will one day challenge myself to accomplish that feat. I’m always looking for new ways to take myself out of my comfort zone, and in pushing my boundaries, I am able to grow in ways I didn’t know possible.
Travelling allows us to experience, first-hand, different cultures and new ways of life we could never have imagined just by reading about it in a book. By interacting with the locals, we have a chance to see what it’s like to live in a completely different environment with a completely different set of social structures and governmental rules. We are able to personally taste the local cuisines, hear the native music and attend traditional celebrations and festivities that would make our peers envious.
Through my travel experiences, I have noticed that each country I visit and each new place I go, I am able to one by one, break down the walls of the world I call my reality. Travelling, I think, reminds us of who we really are, and where it is that we fit into in this vast world. Stripped from our ordinary surroundings, our daily routines, our comfortable queen size beds and normal running water and electricity, we have no choice but to cope with the changes we encounter, and in doing so, we are left with life-changing experiences. These experiences may not always be comfortable, but I’m telling you it is the most exhilarating experiences I have had in my life.
Studying abroad made that possible to me. We are so lucky to have the ability to study abroad and I feel that more students should be taking advantage of it. So don’t just sit there and fantasize about what it might be like to ride camels through the Egyptian desert, or to party on the beaches during Thailand’s famous Full Moon parties; Do it! Reach for those stars and fulfill that will, because the way is right here, and it begins in the International Programs and Exchange office.
As I finish my first blog post, I would like to leave you all with a quote, and one that I try to live my life by: “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist. That is all.” Beautifully said Oscar Wilde.