Tiffany is a Midwesterner who loves to travel. Since graduating from The University Of Oklahoma, she’s ventured to Iowa, Tennessee, Texas, and Idaho. Her favorite pastimes are running, hiking, Texas two stepping, and snuggling with her 1-year-old beagle mix. She’s found most of her success in sales, but her passion is in helping people learn and grow. Once she settles down, she plans to receive a Masters in Education.
Gabel. That was the first German word I ever learned.
Other languages and cultures fascinated me at a young age. I couldn’t comprehend the idea that there were billions of people living on other continents, speaking different languages.
When I was in elementary school, my family hosted a couple foreign exchange students—one from Russia and one from Germany. Though the Russian’s accent was much more appealing, Katerina from Germany was the intriguing one. She wasn’t your typical nerdy, shy girl. This girl was wild and beautiful. And the fact that she could never remember what the English word for gabel was, gave me hope. If this girl can come to a foreign country, hold her fork up at the dinner table with a troubled look, and say, “What you say?” while everyone understands her question, surely I could handle Deutschland.
Since then I’ve taken three years of German. And since then, I have forgot every word other than how to say “good day” and count to seven. You know, the important stuff.
In college I came up with every excuse not to study abroad. Why would I pay to study in another country when I wasn’t majoring in business or another language? Taking off for a semester to explore and take classes that probably wouldn’t benefit my GPA or make me more marketable in my field after college didn’t seem to make sense. After collecting brochures about programs and researching various countries I’d like to visit, I couldn’t justify it. I couldn’t come up with an excuse to go.
Maybe next semester… Once I find a friend to go with me… After I save up $5,000. If I can get out of my lease… It doesn’t really have anything to do with my major… What would my boyfriend say?
Why not just because I really want to? Why isn’t that a good enough reason? I’m going to be thousands of dollars in debt anyway, why not live it up and take in every opportunity.
That’s exactly what it is: an opportunity. It was an opportunity to explore a foreign country and take in another culture without having the worries of the real world. An opportunity to grow in worldly knowledge and self-awareness. An opportunity to escape the monotony of everyday life and create a new world for yourself, if only temporarily.
I’m sure I spent the next $5000 I made on beer, shoes, and Starbucks. Quite the trade off for an education abroad, right? Was I truly concerned about the money or getting out of my lease? Did I really think it was going to hinder my relationships back home? And if it did, were those relationships worth keeping? No, no, and no.
So why didn’t I go?
I was scared. That’s it. That’s my only legitimate excuse. That’s the reason most people don’t take the opportunity to move to a different country and have the time of their life, learning a tremendous amount about themselves and about the world.
We fear the unknown. It’s human nature. Why change something that isn’t broken? Because it could be better.
Since passing up the opportunity to fulfill a childhood dream, I have lived in seven states and who knows how many zip codes. I have learned to embrace change and the unknown. It’s even become a bit of a drug to me. Every ten months I get the itch to pack up and try somewhere new. Sure I have my favorites, but never have I regretted a move—an opportunity to grow. Next stop: Germany.