This week, I will be on a plane en route to Kraków, Poland. At this time, I am feeling: sad, happy, excited, anxious, worrisome, ill-prepared, crazy, lonesome, adventurous—so, basically the whole gamut. When I was making this decision, I felt as though it was the best decision of my life. The ability to travel has always been a strong interest of mine. I am so grateful for the support of my peers, my family, my coworkers, and friends.
When I originally came to Westminster, now three years ago, I made a decision to go to my last-choice college; however, I would not take it back to say the least. The other day, I was speaking with some of my friends, who also claimed that Westminster was their last choice and that they have looked into transferring as well. Now, however, we have stayed with the institution and wouldn’t renege our acceptance to say the least. So, what kept us here? Why didn’t we transfer?
In my opinion, it’s the people. Those with whom I have become some of the closest friends, those in whom I can confide, those of whom I find hilarious are the best friends I could ever have requested. It has been the development of these relationships that have strengthened my connection with Westminster. When speaking with the alumni, I find they have a strong affinity to the institution—an affinity I want to have one day.
So, in my humble opinion, I had to leave this place to love this place. To further explain the reasoning behind that, I find that when you’re heavily involved on campus, you tend to realize the faults that exist. And knowing that not everyone is perfect, me included, it became difficult for me to stay headstrong with my values and remain silent. As I write this, two quotes come to mind: “Ignorance is bliss” by F. Scott Fitzgerald and “The closer you come to perfection, the more your perception of it changes” by my former choral instructor, Mr. Jim McKim. While I understand that the quality of perfection is unachievable, I am still one who, with my self-diagnosed OCD, tries to achieve it. It may come off as coarse to many; however, I believe true leaders can accept constructive criticisms and work to find a middle ground in achieving them.
While serving on committees, boards, and organizations within and outside of the campus, I find that last sentiment to be the most rewarding. An experience I can accredit to my drive to study abroad is my work with the Lawrence County Historical Society, located in New Castle, Pennsylvania, where I was able to develop the ability to interpret constructive criticism. When self-analyzing how I might describe myself, I would say—the person who keeps their radio in the car in increments of five, who avoids public safety at all costs, who you may see wearing a suit one minute and changes into gym shorts the next and then back into a suit, who is running to his next meeting, who would drive hours to see someone, who would travel to Iceland at the drop of a hat, who finds family and friends to be the main motivators, and who sees family history to be the most rewarding hobby to have. The main quirk I am wishing to investigate further is the last, which assists me in learning more about my heritage.
Family history has always been a valuable hobby to me. Since 2012, I have found out some of the most interesting parts of my heritage: owning a letter from Helen Keller, the battles with the insane asylums and misdiagnosed mental illnesses, leaders in the women’s rights movement, the blueprints of various dirigibles, and the multitude of 19th-century photographs. Altogether, the pieces of information that I have learned on my own through the collection of family memorabilia has utterly amazed me and influences me to find more.
When deciding where I wanted to study abroad, I was originally between Sweden and Poland—both for heritage purposes. My father’s side is Swedish and my mother’s side is Polish. The only problem was that Sweden was $10,000 more. So, needless to say, Poland was the obvious choice. Now, come Thursday, I will board a plane to Kraków, Poland until January 2. Bon voyage (Still don’t know that in Polish, haha) and stay tuned for my adventures!