Monday, March 30, 2015

flying 38,000 feet above my gpa

I felt like sharing this story because I hope others can relate, and I hope I can help people realize that they can do whatever they want. I'm going back in time here to when I was in the months of preparing to leave home to travel. I realized these stories are precious, and while I am trying to live as boldly as I can, I want to document them somehow.

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Laying there, on the boat that floated across the Italian waters, I realized I was there for no other reason other than that I wanted to be. I wanted it so badly. I felt it in my fingertips. The urge poured out of me silently through months of diligent work to get there.

The sun enveloped my face and I never wanted the moment to end. This is where I belong. Not just in Italy, but in the world. In the water. In the air. On the ground. Feeling sand between my toes. Marveling at the pink and green houses up in the mountains. Gasping at the magic of beautiful architecture.

I sat down in the chilled office, across from the man that would determine my possibility of travels in the means of a study abroad program. "Talk to me. There are six spots left. Why should I let you go?"

Because I want to see the world? Because I know it's my right to see this world I live in? Because I want to make a difference in the world, and what way better to do that then to travel the world and see it? Because I want to travel, without having put my degree on hold? "I- I think it would be a good opportunity for me to live in another city while I continue my degree." "Your GPA isn't high enough." I gulped. I knew it was around .20 off from the listed qualifications, but I wasn't going to let that stop me from trying to see if I could still get through. "I can't. I can't let you in. There are students with perfect GPAs that want to go." He was right. Didn't they earn the right to get into this program more than I did? What did I expect by coming to this office? I am no one special. Rules are rules.

I felt embarrassed. Embarrassed that after years of being an exceptional student, life got too hard, and too beautiful, to keep straight As. I was embarrassed that I worked my way through college so that I could do all the things my young soul urged to do, as we young souls do. That I didn't always want to ask my mom for money when I needed something. Why didn't I just sit at home and study harder, and longer? I was embarrassed that I believed letting my other ambitions besides school die, meant to not really live. I am not going to be the student who puts the rest of my life aside just for school, I always told myself. I'm not going to lifelessly drag myself through four years of my life, passing up on life's beautiful opportunities solely for school. I want to allow myself to be a worker, to be a creative soul, to be a writer, a wanderer, a traveler, a lover. Student was not going to be my only title throughout college, and being a student was not going to limit me from living my life the way I think I ought to. School was and is very important to my family, and so it became to me. I love what I am studying, and I genuinely love sitting in a classroom and learning. I feel like a flower blooming when I learn about something that intrigues me. But I am young, and I am full of wonder and ideas, full of the fire that burns in my chest, of passion.. That extends beyond classroom walls, and I promised myself to never let that die for what society says should be my only priority.

"You're going to have to work twice as hard to get your GPA up to be able to get into this program, or apply next semester." I didn't have till next semester, and I wasn't going to give up life and passion to be the perfect student. To me, it just wasn't a compromise I was willing to make.

"I guess I'll just have to find a way to travel on my own," I said as I pulled my papers back into my bag and walked out of the office. Tears filled my eyes. My heart raced. I must be a fool to think I can be the architect of my own college experience, my own life experience. I cant have it all, I thought.

I pulled myself together. I realized I am special. Everyone is. If you want something, you should believe that yes, you are special enough to deserve that. Sure, I'm not special enough to this man. And I'm not special enough to get into this program. I'm not straight A student anymore. That is still very hard for me to come to terms with. It is so hard for me to admit, because I was mostly taught to be a student and only a student, or not a student at all- anything in between is unheard of. But I'm still a student. And my learning is no longer confined between classroom walls. And now, I'm also a world traveler. That's a compromise I'm ok with.

Thank you, cold-office man, for if you had accepted me into your program, I would've limited myself to how I can be the architect of my college, but more importantly, my life experience.
 Photos from Australia (Gold Coast), Italy (Rome), and Poland (Gdansk).
To clear up confusion: I eventually got accepted to one of the many SUNY Brockport Study Abroad programs I applied to, but by then I had already made my decision to travel on my own, had enrolled to online courses, and had left home. In the end, this has saved me money, enabled me to travel with my partner, meet tons of people and see way more than I had ever imagined I would in a few months.
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