By Karolyn Castaldo

It has been said that one must venture out of his comfort zone in order to find himself because then he is not defined by his surroundings but by his true character. Unfortunately, most people spend their lives wondering what may have changed about themselves if they had gotten the chance to backpack through Europe or study a tribe in Africa, instead of seizing the opportunity. It is understandable to be apprehensive; who really knows whether that trip could change everything for them but I personally am a firm believer that through travel, experiencing different cultures, and truly pursuing one’s passions, he will never regret the time he spent doing so and will come out understanding himself more than before.

As a college student, the most I have ever gone out of the country has been on family vacations and very chaperoned and guided school trips. Needless to say, these did not change my outlook on life or my personal opinions, but they were definitely tons of fun and that counts for something. However, my experience with choosing a school taught me a lot about experiencing life beyond my own realm of comfort. I had a choice: stay in New England at a school with many of my high school class mates and close friends, just a short three hours from home, or take the plunge and head to Denver, the complete opposite of everything I had ever grown up knowing. It was big, it was a city, and I would know absolutely no one there, but there was one thing I knew that I would love: the skiing. Skiing has been a passion of mine for many years. I was accustomed to the ice of the east, but I wanted bigger mountains, fluffier snow, and where better to go than to Colorado. In the end, my love of skiing drove me west and despite missing my family and friends back home, I knew I had made the right decision because I had followed a passion and for that, I understood more about myself.

My choice to leave the east and venture to Colorado is not the only soul-searching I plan to do in my life. There is simply too much world to experience and not nearly enough people willing to take advantage of what there is to gain from being just a little unconventional and travelling the world. I refuse to be someone who looks back on my life and regrets not seeing everything I could have seen. Whether I spend time skiing in the Alps or Argentina, in Rome enjoying dishes upon dishes of pasta, or sunbathing in Tahiti, I plan to make the most of my experience by taking in all the cultural aspects that I can. A life is wasted if no story can be told from it and I plan to have plenty of stories to tell.

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