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A Risk

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On the way to the airport my stomach continued to churn. I was so nervous and tense that I was afraid to speak. I was convinced that instead of words only cries and sobs would surface from my mouth, so I sat in my seat and remained quiet as I listened to the radio.

Instead of thinking of all the great experiences that would come out of my trip abroad to Switzerland, I thought only of the bad possibilities. I knew I would cry each day with homesickness, desperate for my mom’s breakfast- chocolate chop pancakes with a dash of syrup, a perfect mixture of sweetness. I feared I would be in downtown Lenk, Switzerland lost and overwhelmed by the sounds of German, guttural and barking, telling me what to do and where to go. I already felt paralyzed. I turned my head to look out the window and watched different colored cars zoom into the darkness. I, too, was zooming off into a dark world.

When I was in eighth grade I was given the chance of a lifetime, an opportunity to attend a school in Switzerland for a semester with 30 other kids from all around the world. Needless to say, when first given the option of attending the program in Switzerland, I opposed it as fast as a small child reaches for her mother. I was mortified by the idea of leaving home and home becoming a foreign country. Why would I, a thirteen year-old girl, want to leave my friends and family for three months? I was too young, too scared, but most importantly (I didn’t know it at the time) too comfortable with my life.

Although I was convinced I would not be attending the Winter Term program that year, something changed for me one day. I don’t know if it was the song on the radio, the peacefulness that enveloped me, or the security I felt cruising down the highway with my dad, but I announced I would attend the program for 6 weeks, with the caveat if I was not enjoying myself I would return home immediately

Twelve weeks later I cried as I left the magical country of Switzerland. The astounding memories, friendships, and personal growth that I made during those three months in Switzerland will remain a part of me for the rest of my life. I will never forget the simple joy I found from walking down to the modest town of Lenk to pick up a warm croissant from the bakery. Almost as memorable as the Switzerland food was the culture I absorbed in three months. The kind locals I ran into on the ski slopes or in town went out of their way to wave or smile; their kindness was contagious. By the end of my stay I became so attached to the small village of Lenk I wanted to put it in my pocket to take home with me. While I could go on for hours explaining the adventures and memorable times that helped to shape the experience most significant about my trip to Switzerland was the importance of the risk I took.

If I had not taken the risk and left the comforts of my familiar life, I would not have gained the experiences and knowledge I now have today. Not many people would describe me as a risk taker. Prior to my trip to Switzerland, my idea of a risk was wearing sweatpants instead of blue jeans to school. I found comfort in the known. I hardly ever would venture away from my small, protected home in New Castle; however, here I was traveling across the world to a foreign country not knowing another soul and it ended up being the best decision of my life. It is important for everyone in the world to take a step out of his or her comfortable homes and take a chance that makes them feel uneasy. After all, the best experiences in our lives are the ones that push us. Don’t be the thirteen year-old girl I was who originally found the negatives of a positive experience. Embrace a risk.





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