I am a Student Affairs Advisor and have been part of the ITA team since May 2022.
Since I was 8 years old, I always dreamed of traveling the world. I stumbled upon the travel section of my local library and the first book I pulled was about Italy. I soaked up every page and never knew there was such a different world out there from the one I was living in. Coming from a small town where most people don’t ever leave, there wasn’t an expectation for me to leave home. I took that desire with me into college and after my first class freshman year, I ran straight to the Study Abroad Department of my University and asked how I could study abroad. Semesters abroad can be pricey and my parents weren’t able to support me financially, so I worked three jobs and applied for as many scholarships as possible to help afford them. Nothing and no one was going to stop me from living my dream. Spring semester of my sophomore year, all my hard work paid off and I was on a plane to Spain (wow that rhymed). My semester in Spain was completely life-changing and I had so many amazing experiences that I could not stop traveling. I mean, I literally attended University in a Castle in Spain! Not to mention free tapas with each cup of beer! From the gorgeous cobblestone streets, ancient city center, lively flamenco shows, delicious food, and amazing people it was super difficult to leave Spain However, it was time to go home.
My next adventure was to London, England for a Summer Abroad at Kingston University. Summer in the UK is absolutely beautiful and I was able to experience Shakespeare’s plays at the Globe Theatre, picnics in Hyde Park, and weekends at the British Museum. After the most amazing 4 years of College and studying abroad, I got my first “grown-up job.” I worked as an admissions advisor/recruiter for a Culinary school in Houston. I was working 60+ hours a week and making what I thought at the time was great money (hey don’t judge I was a poor college student for 4 years).
After a year on the job, that travel bug kept nagging me and I decided to give it all up and teach abroad. Again, I found myself on a plane to Spain and on my own with no friends or family. From Madrid, I took a train to Malaga, Spain where my home for the next two years was going to be. While on the train to Malaga, I experienced a moment of panic. I thought to myself, what am I doing? I left everything behind! I had a great job, I lived 10 minutes away from my boyfriend and best friends. I’m taking a huge pay cut and I don’t know a soul or where I'm moving to. So, I took a deep breath and got off the train, gathered my bags, and hailed a cab. As the cab made its way through the city and passed by the beach, I knew I made the right decision after all. Costa del Sol was as beautiful as they said it would be. Life in Malaga was quite literally the best life I could have ever imagined for myself. I made tons of great friends right away, my students were so sweet and made my first teaching experience so memorable. After school, I'd have lunch, take a siesta and wake up to go down to the beach. Evenings were spent with friends grabbing a glass of Sangria, sharing tapas, and having some of the most amazing conversations I’ve ever had. Also, since the cost of living was so low, I was able to save most of my paycheck to travel around Europe. From galavanting around Europe to meeting new friends and chilling by the beach I was living my best life.
After two life-changing years in Spain, I decided I wanted to be thrown completely out of my comfort zone. I researched jobs in Japan, South Korea, and China. Since I didn’t have a Student Affairs Advisor to help me, I struggled to find a job and instead looked for a program in China where I received my TEFL certification. To say I was thrown out of my comfort zone is an understatement. I didn’t speak a word of Mandarin and I had never been to Asia before so there was a culture shock. I found myself starting all over again in a new country with no friends and no knowledge of the language. It was a difficult first few months because there was a lot of adjusting to do. However, when I opened myself up to meeting new people and really trying my best to learn the language, things took a turn. I enjoyed my adventures in China and travels around Asia. My advice is to take a chance, you never know where it will take you. Will it be scary? Sure it will be at first, but that’s the beauty of travel. You learn and you grow. Once you get a taste you’ll be planning your next adventure.
Harlingen, Texas. I studied at Texas A&M University - Kingsville.
Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Ireland, Scotland, England, France, Germany, Austria, Netherlands, India, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, South Korea, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Mexico, and Costa Rica.
Lived in Spain, China & the UK. Taught English in Spain & China.
My first travel experience was to Madrid, Spain where I did a semester abroad. It was life-changing as it was the first time I or anyone in my family had traveled outside of the US. I was pretty naive and didn’t even know you couldn’t pay with dollars in Spain. For those of you saying, “how did she not know this?” I was the first person to ever leave the US from my family. I was literally none the wiser. Let’s just say there was a learning curve but it helped me grow and become more worldly from the sheltered life I was used to. Every day was like an adventure as I literally attended classes in a castle. While studying abroad, I had the opportunity to travel around Europe and I fell more in love with travel. The sights, smells, food, culture, and architecture were unlike anything I'd ever experienced. My first travel abroad experience completely changed the trajectory of my life and I am forever grateful for it.
I have so many, it’s hard to choose one. However, I can proudly say that I climbed the great wall of China but took the toboggan down. August in China is just as hot as August in Texas so probably not the smartest idea to climb the Great Wall of China in scorching heat but I made it! I did not take shortcuts and I climbed all the stairs. I was wobbly and hot and gasping but I made it. The views from the Great Wall are stunning and I stood for a while just admiring it all. Now at this point, my legs were exhausted from the long trek up so I decided to pay the 60 Kauai to take the toboggan slide down the Great Wall. When it was my turn, the guide handed me a rickety piece of wood with a metal handle. I look at him confused but he pushes me along and tells me to sit. Before I can even object, he shoved me down the slide and here I go on this little wooden board at a super-fast pace. As I was making the sharp turns and curves I literally saw my life flash before my eyes. I thought, “ok this is how it ends, on a toboggan down the Great Wall of China.” It was so fast and the guy behind me kept bumping into my cart because he didn’t know how to control the speed from the rusty metal bar that was supposed to be the handle. Anywhoo, I survived and lived to tell the tale. Would I toboggan down the Great Wall again if given the chance? Why no, no I would not. However, I am proud to say I tried it!
Hands down Persian food but Thai food is a close second!
One of the many things I am excited about is working with students to make their dreams come true. I know how life-changing teaching abroad can be. I'd love to help that goal be accomplished for anyone who is ready to embark on an adventure.
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