Studying abroad can bring about a plethora of emotions. It is exciting, it is new, and for many, it is their first time in a foreign land. For the traveler extraordinaire it is another adventure on the bucket list of destinations. Either way, it has brought each and every student together to embark on this once in a lifetime opportunity to explore, to travel, and to form friendships that will be everlasting.
Every student is at a different chapter in their life. Each with a different past, present, and most likely different future. Whether a freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior it is important to seize each and every opportunity that you are presented with and to indulge in the history and culture that will surround your new environment.
It is perhaps a chance to start anew, a chance to refresh oneself, and to simply take a break from the every day rigors of the college experience. Maybe even a chance to find oneself after a long period of trials and tribulations. It can be an amazing journey ahead. One that should be fully embraced.
Every time I walk into Virginia Military Institute’s (VMI) barracks, I see the quote by Stonewall Jackson, “You may be whatever you resolve to be.”
As a Cadet at one of the top senior military colleges in the nation, I have learned more about myself in the last three years than I ever thought was possible. I have pushed myself past my own limitations and accomplished more than I ever thought imaginable. I have grown and changed, for better and for worse, and have not only figured out the person I don’t want to be, but the person I aspire to be. I aspire to be a citizen-soldier; an idea Cincinnatus created, greatly loved by President George Washington, and is still instilled and maintained in all VMI Cadets through the Inscription of the Parapet by COL John Thomas Lewis Preston, one of VMI’s founders. In addition to that, (and not limited to) I aspire to be a woman of God, to be kind, loving, generous, and caring, and to serve the Lord and all of His grace. While I aspire a wide array of these personal characteristics, I aspire to be me; as you should aspire to be you, whomever that may be.
Every day is a new beginning, filled with new opportunities. If you do not know who you “is” or who you want to be, use every day to dig deeper and discover your personal self and well-being. Live life to the fullest. Be happy. Genuinely happy. Life is a gift. We all live in a country with luxuries and commodities. It is very easy to take them for granted. Cherish that.
Use this semester as a time to explore. To learn new things. Challenge yourself beyond your wildest dreams. Challenge your status quo. Step out of your comfort zone. Be adventurous.
Be smart and be diligent. Learn to laugh, live, love, and smile with whatever obstacle or adventure that comes your way. Be you.
We all come from a diverse background. Some from fraternities or sororities, top Ivy League universities, schools of the liberal arts and stem majors, military, religious colleges and universities, and universities where their classmates may only be of the same gender. Take the time to learn. Ask questions. Create friendships. Because the people you study abroad with will be people you create lasting memories and friendships that will last a lifetime. Who knows? You may even learn a thing or two about you.