This I Believe

Michael - State College, Pennsylvania
Entered on December 11, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30

Have you ever wanted to try something new and daring? How about wanting to achieve something you once never dreamed? I believe in constantly challenging myself. Challenge is what keeps people motivated and continuously striving toward new goals. Whether it is losing weight, meeting someone new, or receiving a promotion, challenging yourself is what gives you inspiration.

In the fall of 2005 I decided to challenge myself in a whole new way. I decided to study abroad in Barcelona, Spain. The furthest I had ever traveled from home was to Mexico for a one week spring break trip, where learning and experiencing different cultures was not at the top of my priority list. Something inside of me said go for it, I had to test myself to make it for a semester in another country. With three semesters of basic Spanish, I boarded the plane that would take me to Barcelona, Spain.

Stepping off that plane and not understanding a single word people were speaking in the airport was frightening. I asked myself was I ready to attempt this, to be away from home, my native language, my friends, my school? The challenges I encountered during the next four months were both frightening and exciting; I quickly realized that communication was the hardest obstacle to overcome, even body language was different. Ordering dinner, giving a taxi driver a destination, and fitting in were all tests I faced daily. Often the little everyday tasks of living and studying in a foreign country were frustrating, but with each trial I was learning and growing. As the semester progressed I found new ways to motivate myself and strive to accomplish things I never dared. Traveling around Spain, going to local festivals, and meeting new Spanish students were all something that kept me learning and entertained.

The semester was a great success. I did well in classes and experienced an entirely new culture, from the language to the food and parties. I learned so much about myself and others. Studying abroad was a great undertaking that gave me new confidence. Suddenly trying something new wasn’t so different. When I got back home I realized that going on an interview wasn’t so scary and trying new things or meeting new people wasn’t as daring as I once thought.

The idea of constantly challenging yourself is what drives me. It drives me to stay motivated and try new things. Throughout my life I have looked to challenge myself. Making the traveling sport team when I was in elementary school, running for class president in high school, and then studying abroad in college were all things that kept me striving to better myself, but also others around me. I face challenges everyday. The most important thing for me is not what the challenge is, but the attitude of how I address, overcome, and learn from the experience.