Study Abroad

20/10/2015

Travel Bug

“I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone.”
“I should think so — in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things!”
– Gandalf to Bilbo. The Hobbit

I have often wondered where the “travel bug” comes from.
I think that most of us like the idea of adventures. Why else would so many adventure books and movies be so popular.

I grew up in a small town on the coast in North Wales, and have always had an adventurous spirit. Video games and books involving distant or imagined lands were always my category of choice. When I was in junior school, I even created my own 2D, paper-maze version of a game (heavily inspired by Sonic the Hedgehog), sadly my teacher didn’t share my creative ideas and tore it up, probably for the best at the time though (maybe).

Whether media one is exposed to at a young age, causes one to have an adventurous mind (conditioned), or if one is drawn to certain things as the result of an innate desire to explore, is hard to say (I’d imagine a bit of both); However, it is much more comfortable to have an adventure whilst sitting in front of the television, than actually getting out and having one. I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with this, but I think that sometimes books, films, games, etc can act almost like a valve, scratching the adventurous itch, but never fully satisfying it.

Exchange Program

In late 2009, I heard (from my room mate at the time) that my university took part in a study-abroad exchange program. Incidentally, this had been one of the things I was considering whilst picking which uni to go to, but in the middle of all the work I was doing, it had slipped to the back of my mind to pursue it any further.

As the idea had come up again, I decided to at least look into it. Next, came a series of tedious trips back and forth between the University’s International office, whilst I discovered how possible it would be to do. It seemed do-able, but I would have to work hard to get good grades.

So I decided to set the ball rolling, I mean, I could always change my mind at the last minute.

After trying for ages to get through to the American Embassy (and a large phone bill – they kept disconnecting me because were too busy), I booked my interview to apply for a student VISA. Eventually, this was sorted, and after a long wait, fort-knox security (seriously, questions such as, “Are you planning a terrorist attack against America”) and another wait for my passport to be returned to me, the VISA was sorted.

It was official, I was off on an adventure to San Francisco (without the flowers in my hair).