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Volume 10, Edition 4 December 2010


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This is what life is about… by Andrea Navas*


Darren Rony with Andrea and a boy from Ayampe

So people tell you about the opportunity of studying abroad and all the benefits that it can bring to your life… let me tell you a little bit about what the buzz is about. I’m a normal girl who decided one day that normal was not good enough anymore, that I wanted to do something else for myself, and that’s when I thought about going to the study abroad office. From the very first moment, I felt I was taking a very solid step.

My first study abroad experience was in Ayampe, Ecuador. I was born and raised in Colombia, and I had been in Ecuador many times before, but this time was different. We learned lots on how we can be more sustainable professionals and responsible tourists, but believe it when I say there is not a single book out there that can express how powerful a hug or kiss is from the children of Ayampe. I also helped my classmates by teaching them some basic Spanish and translating every now and then.

I cannot tell you how amazing this experience was. When you go on the cable car that takes you to a mountain that is 4050 meters (13,287 feet) above sea level your heart beats faster and you cannot help thinking “What am I doing here?!” until you get to the end of the ride to the Pichincha where you see the entire city of Quito, and that is the moment when you realize what you are doing there. There are not pictures or words to describe the feeling, but the mountains and that glorious city are there to be seen, and are waiting to be seen by more people like you and me, normal students who decided that there is a whole world to be seen outside the United States.

Now I am in Heilbronn, a lovely little town that is located in the Black Forest in southwestern Germany. Even after eight hours in a plane and being awake for more than 24 hours, this being my first time in Europe and riding a train, there was no way I was falling asleep! I wanted to see everything there was to see. I keep telling my mom that Germany looks just like a postcard, so beautiful with the little villages between the mountains and the train moving at just the right speed so I can gaze through the window and see the people riding their bicycles across the fields.

I am learning not only through classes at the Heilbronn Hochschule, but also by meeting people from all over the world and by learning a little bit every day about German culture. It is not easy getting used to the time change and to the culture shock that comes with living in a culture totally different from your own, but if you really want to be part of this world you have to take the risk of living.

Today, I cannot be happier that I went to the study abroad office with a thousand places to choose from. I chose the one where I wanted to be, and that is exactly what you should do, do not wait until is too late, and say, “Well now it is too late to study abroad.” This is your chance to adventure and travel the world—don’t let someone else tell you how it is “out there.” I didn’t and you shouldn’t, just take the risk and do it!

Andrea riding bikes in Padova, Italy

Andrea with friends overlooking Quito

*Andrea Navas is a Hospitality & Tourism Management major, as well as an Honors Ambassador.

She participated in a Faculty-Led program to Ecuador in Summer 2010.

Andrea is currently studying abroad at one of UNCG’s exchange partners, Heilbronn University in Germany.

Previous editions:

Volume 10, Edition 3, November 2010

Volume 10, Edition 2, October 2010

Volume 10, Edition 1, September 2010

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