International trip changes view of world

It’s amazing how much someone’s life can change in a short time.

One of the things that Gannon University has been promoting lately is the study abroad opportunities. The school is making it more affordable and easier for students who want to travel abroad.

There are many different routes that you can take;from faculty-led trips, semester or year spans and T.R.A.V.E.L. programs.

Last summer I had the opportunity to travel to Italy and Greece with Doug King, Ph.D., associate professor of English, on a faculty-led trip. One night in Italy, the whole trip changed for us.

The hotel we were staying at was right on the beach and had a wonderful view of Mount Vesuvius, an active volcano off in the distance. After we had dinner with the whole group, the adventurous ones went down to the beach for a late night swim.

It started with just the small “Gannon group” going to jump into the water. We were all following Dr. King’s lead down to the Mediterranean Sea. We strolled down the windy road down the side of the mountain. All we had brought was our hotel towels that we had stowed away in our bags and our cameras.

Once we reached the beach, we soon realized that others had the same idea as us. More than half of the group had followed our lead to the beach.

The first thing that struck me there was the sand. It wasn’t like “normal” sand. It was black, sparkly from the volcano explosions in the past and was shimmering in the moon light. The whole scenery and atmosphere was surreal.

The next thing I noticed was the biting cold water.

Once everyone got into the water, the real adventure started. We started swimming the width of the small bay. The light from the moon was just enough to make out your hand at arm’s length.

We couldn’t swim fast enough to keep the image of “Jaws” from popping into our minds. With a little bit of teamwork and a great deal of courage, we swam from one side to the other. Once across, we climbed up on the slimy rocks to reach the dock.

We had to take a photo to prove that we had done it. Then we jumped back in the dark sea so that we could return to shore.

That was the evening that the whole trip changed for us. It was no longer just my friend and myself, it was a group trip.

When I first signed up I had to make sure I had a friend on board, which I found hadn’t been necessary as the trip went on. I met a wonderful group of people.

At the beginning of the tour, I was traveling with strangers. By the end, they had all become my friends.

If you are fortunate enough to be able to sign up for one of these trips you will not regret it. The friends you will make and the memories you’ll share with them are well worth it.  You will remember your trip for the rest of your life.

 

KAT SHINDLEDECKER

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