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Recently I have been prowling around the study abroad offices to try and figure out how I can incorporate traveling internationally into my four year plan. Looking at how I am double majoring as well as pursuing a minor, all of that will probably force me to take 4 and 1/2 years in order to graduate with enough credits. Regardless, I still am looking to take at least some time and dedicate it to learning in a foreign country and being assimilated in their culture for at least a semester. Today I went to an information session about taking engineering classes at the Petroleum Institute in Abu Dhabi of the UAE. I don’t know if that it necessarily what I would be my final destination but I know that I need to go somewhere outside of the United States besides Canada.

Speaking of the U.S., I have had the amazing opportunity to visit all 48 contiguous states before I even entered the University of Maryland College Park. My parents made a promise to me that we would travel the nation and I am so happy to be able to say that I have. From the deserts of Arizona to the Redwoods of Northern California and the beaches of Florida, I have been blessed to be able to see almost every aspect of the nation’s landscape. I believe it is imperative that every single individual take the time to get out of their hometown every once in a while because there are things about life that you can only learn by traveling to those unique destinations. Traveling has afforded me the chance to broaden my perspective on life and see how other cultures, even within the same country, live their lives. A person’s environment is one of the greatest determiner of how they will develop. Your upbringing is the nurturing aspect of the psychological debate on what makes a person who they are. If you are living in the freezing tundra’s of Maine, your lifestyle will be significantly different from those who are in drought ridden areas of southern United States.

Mother nature isn’t the only factor in how someone will develop but also the regional cultures and ideals. In revolutionary times, it was easily distinguishable that the values of northern society varied significantly from those of the south. Immigration has also brought with it a unique culture as well and it is interesting to see where they have taken residence within the country. Sometimes immigrants clump together in specific areas like a city’s “Chinatown” or “Little Italy.” Some may chose another route and live wherever they want independent of where others with similar descent choose to live. They then naturally assimilate into the existing culture and contribute their own ideals into that particular society. Sometimes that transition is smooth and painless and allows for a beneficial relationship to both those already living in a specific place and those who choose to immigrate there from other countries. Other times those who currently live there are resistant to change (usually because of those culture’s existing ideals and traditions) and will often force those moving in to bend to their culture or drive the outsiders to retreat from their boundaries.

Because the United States is such a diverse and varying there I have had the opportunity to learn so much out there and would love to apply that to other locations around the world. Travel is such a vital part in becoming a complete human being and will undoubtedly open your eyes to so many new ideas. How can you know exactly what you want to do with your life if you have no idea of everything that is out there? While traveling, it is imperative that you keep an open mind and possess willingness to take in these new ideas even if you may not agree with them. Stubbornness is one of the main hindrances to progress and you will gain nothing if you refuse to take the devil’s advocate every once in a while. Regardless, get out as soon as you can. I am trying to travel as much as possible while I am young because I realize that adult responsibilities like raising a family and maintaining enough finances to pay the bills will hold me down and keep me away from places that are further than my local bank or grocery store. So get out there and start exploring. Maybe I will see you out there in the world.

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