This summer I had the awesome chance to study abroad twice. I went to Ireland for a month in May and to Belize in July. I loved literally every second of the opportunity and there are so many things I could talk about in regards to these trips but one thing in particular sticks out in my mind.

The people.

The people I traveled with, the people I met along the way, the people who made the entire trip worthwhile.

What most don’t realize about these study abroad trips is that you forge these new relationships with people you’ve never met and you literally become instantaneous friends. Because you don’t know where you are, you’re in a foreign country with people who don’t speak the same language and then there’s the group you’re with, your little sanctuary of peers.

You create these bonds that can withstand more than you could have ever imagined. You put trust in total strangers who do the same to you. You share with them, laugh with them, cry with them.

As you travel, you learn about them, start to pick up on their little habits, encounter new things with them. It’s this intense situation that they’re there every second for.

In Belize, we traveled to a cave that made me appreciate my group in an entirely new way. We were climbing down, down, down. We were sliding on mud, pushing each other up rocks, swinging our bodies onto ledges, all in complete darkness. We were having to rely on each other because it was so difficult. We literally needed each other. It was like the most intense team building experience ever.

After the cave adventure, the rest of the trip the group acted as a unit. If someone needed help, we were there. If someone was upset, we were there. If anyone screwed with anyone, we were there in the worst way.

Now that I’m home and I’ve had time to digest everything that happened to me, I can finally grasp how important these people have become. They’re not just people anymore, they’re friends, sisters, brothers, family.

Each person brought something different to the table, brought a new side out of everyone else. And that’s what is so great about it, we became different people because of who were surrounded by. We pushed each other to be better, stronger, happier.

As I go forward in life, I tend to look to those I was with. I’m especially close to a few and what’s funny is those few are people I would have never associated with if I had not gone on these trips.

From Ireland, I look to Casey. She was my rock, my best friend over there. We did everything together and we quickly realized how similar we were. She is this gentle and kind person who made me appreciate life. She taught me how to be gracious, humble. She showed me that it’s okay to trust and I needed that. I see her often and talk to her even more often. She is like my other half at times and one of my best friends.

From Belize I look to a few people.

On the trip, my “person” was Arielle. We had this instantaneous friendship. We sat on the plane together on the way there and talked about everything under the sun. We were roommates the entire trip and it got to the point that we didn’t even have to talk anymore. She’d shoot me a look and I knew exactly what she was trying to say. We laughed about everything and everyone and tried new things together. We cared for each other when we got hurt, told each other everything and confided in one another.

Now that I’m home though, I’ve come very close to a group of people. Sammy, Brandon and CJ. It was a chance encounter that turned into a realization that we worked really well together. We’re all so completely different that we end up complementing each other in a weird way. Like I said before, everyone brings something to the table and on that table is a conglomerate of personalities.

The people I traveled with have become a staple in my life. I’ve established friendships and made an effort to keep them. It’s interesting that total strangers that decided to do something for themselves ended up finding other people who they ended up needing in their life.

Who knew?


About wayfaringbridges

I'm Stephanee. I'm 26, a former travel agent who got tired of selling trips to others and decided to start taking trips of my own. I'm traveling as far and as often as I can.

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