As a young girl I would always watch those movies where a group of best friends got to travel to Europe and make all kinds of memories and go on crazy adventures. But in the next couple days I will actually get to live out that adventure with eight of my teammates. Limestone offers this great opportunity of traveling abroad and as this semester was starting, my three roommates and I said we should sign up for the fall global experience trip together. We found out that four others of our teammates were signed up for the trip as well. Not only am I able to travel to Europe but I get to live out that dream of going with some of my closest friends. I keep thinking about all the memories I will have to hold onto and be able to tell my family someday. Both my parents have traveled all over the world and have some excellent stories they tell so I am looking forward to having some of my own.
Throughout the class we learned about the culture that Spain and southern France has to offer and being able to experience that at such an early time in my life is an honor and an opportunity that not many people get. The 10 days that we are there as a group may be short, but it is packed with all kinds of things that we are going to be able to see and experience like Nice, Monaco, the French Rivera, New Year’s Eve in another country, and Barcelona. Being able to experience these cultures I feel will give me an appreciation for those who live their lives very differently than in my own culture. I never would have thought that I would get to travel to Europe this early in life let alone with a group of people that are truly closest to me and I could not thank Limestone enough for this opportunity. It is not every day that a university offers a trip in full to another part of the globe. The memories that I will be making are those that I will cherish for the rest of my life, and I am looking forward to this experience.
When I was asked to chaperone this trip I couldn’t pass it up. What an incredible opportunity to spend 9 days abroad, visiting 3 countries with so many Limestone students, including 8 of my women’s lacrosse student-athletes. A lot of people don’t understand careers in higher education, especially coaching. They don’t get why we work long hours and holidays, why we always have our phones on us awaiting a text or phone call from a student-athlete, or what we do in the office (FYI it isn’t all X’s and O’s..not even close) why the little moments mean so much. We have the unique opportunity to stand alongside our students as they walk through some of the most formative years of their lives. We are beside them when they’re homesick, or adapting to new cultures (shoutout to our international students), as they adjust to different time demands, and higher expectations in the classroom, on the field, and in the community.
Walking alongside them in this experience is just another piece of the puzzle. It’s the little reassurances in the ticketing line and through security and customs to so many of our students that have limited experience flying and so many of whom have never left the country, It is learning new phrases in Catalan, eating new foods, like paella, croquettes, stonefish, monkfish, and squid. It’s walking through the streets, trying to keep up with our incredible tour guide as phones are in the air trying to capture pictures-just trying to lock in that one moment in time. It’s learning the Spanish metro system..and having to turn around a few times when we were heading the wrong direction and being mesmerized by the architecture and stained glass windows in La Sagrada Familia-the largest building in Barcelona and a completely unique and treasured cathedral and the center of the city. It’s ringing in the New Year in the future (6 hours ahead of EST) as our crew danced all throughout the restaurant and got the entire place off their seats. It’s watching the Spanish tradition of eating 12 grapes as the countdown to the New Year commences-the entire place in silence for those 12 seconds as they race to complete their task before celebrating with everyone around them.
It’s connecting with so many students and hearing them say how much they value the opportunity to connect with their peers that they haven’t gotten the chance to know yet. Cheering them on as they take on challenges with language barriers and currency differences. It’s hearing them ask to recreate moments from past trips, not yet realizing that it’s THEIR stories that future students will want to recreate. It’s the memories that last a lifetime, the bonds that are created, and the doors that are open for our students to experience something so many of them could only have dreamed of. It’s for them to realize that they too belong to this world, to make the places they leave a little bit better and to take a small piece of it home with them. And it’s just the beginning. Barcelona, you have been so good to us, and we can’t wait to see what Monaco and Southern France have for us as we continue this journey.
Growing up, I was always told that I was a people person. I find myself at times being the “people watcher,” but also many times being the “life of the party.”
Feeling that I truly am a people person, I really wanted to transition that aspect of myself to make the most out of this once in a lifetime Limestone University Global Experience trip to Spain and France. However, as it approached, the language barrier began to feel intimidating to me. We have yet finished this journey and looking back I wish I would have paid for an international data plan for my phone so I could have used Google translate on everything. With that single regret aside, there are several things I can share to really maximize the experience for future students.
My first suggestion is to take the time to learn a little bit of every language you will encounter. A few helpful words and phrases include: “hello,” “do you speak English?,” “thank you,” or even “thank you very much,” “please,” “yes,” “goodbye,” and “have a nice day.”
As most would imagine, the most important phrase on this trip is asking people if they can speak English. It is cliché to say, but do not be afraid of the language barrier. While it is not necessary to learn these words and phrases, your interactions with people will become much more fruitful if you do. Since taking the time to learn these phrases, I have found that the people are more friendly, helpful, and even willing to teach me more about the language and culture. Since going on this trip, I have gained such a profound appreciation for the cultures and languages to the point where I will learn how to become both fluent in both Spanish and French.
While the education part is important, the everyday people you interact with really are what makes the trip worth it. Just today, in Monaco, I sat across from this wonderful elderly couple in their 80s. Even with a huge language barrier and multiple attempts at asking each other to repeat ourselves, we had such a wonderful conversation. The couple had been together over 60 years and met at university in Zurich. While this may not be important to others, conversation puts not only perspective but significance on the place.
You will forget parts of the location, but you will never forget the people you meet.
At the end of the day, you certainly could complete a Global Experience trip and not talk to a single person. You can spend time together with your friends and not talk to anyone, but to make the most out of it, you need to encounter many different people who have walked different paths of life. You also need to ask questions about the language and culture, be respectful, and most importantly, smile.
Take your time and enjoy the journey – because there are many wonderful people to meet.
So often today, many people (including myself) become so absorbed in our own daily lives that we forget about the lives that are lived by those around us and those who came before us, each with its own unique history and perspective.
We often tend to only focus on our own little world with little regard for what is going on outside of it. It is quite easy to focus our attention on what is inside of the bubble that we create for ourselves, and it has been made far easier during the recent Covid pandemic, in which each and every one of us were forced to isolate ourselves from one another.
However, with the world opening back up, it is important to remind ourselves that there is more to the world than what we see when going about our consistent routines. The greatest lesson, although certainly not the only lesson, that I have learned from this Global Experience trip is that each one of us should to remember how small we are in the grand scheme of things. There is a whole world outside of ourselves, full of people who have come from different backgrounds and who have lived far different lives than our own.
If we are too inwardly focused, we lose sight of this fact. This trip with Limestone has allowed me to change my perspective in this regard by showing me the uniqueness of multiple different cultures and their histories. Seeing the beautiful works of architecture, such as La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, and historical monuments such as the Pont du Gard in France, serves as an excellent reminder of what is possible when we recognize that our value comes not from what we do for ourselves, but what we do to improve the world for others.
There is so much to see in our beautiful world, and unfortunately, so many people see so little during their time on it. Seeing just a little bit more of the world has revealed to me just how insignificant we all are by ourselves, and also how significant we can become when working with others. I consider myself truly blessed to have been able to participate in this Global Experience. I hope the lessons that I have learned will stick with me throughout my life, and I hope that those who participate after me are able to receive the same value from the opportunity that I have.
Whether you are a member of the Limestone community considering a Global Experience trip or simply a prospective member of our community, I would encourage you to look beyond the bubbles that we each and every one of us create for ourselves.
You just might like what you see.
The opportunities presented to us in our lifetime are those not to be taken for granted. Life is short and there is more out there than what is in your Instagram feed, you see people traveling the world and think, “gosh I wish that was me” when in reality than can be you. To see how people live their lives so differently is eye opening. In Europe you see art, history, and culture around every corner. To try new foods, learn about different religions, speak a different language, and wander around a city that is unfamiliar allowed me to grow such an appreciation for individuality.
While traveling recently with the Limestone Global Experience, I realized that the priorities of those in Spain and France are not materialistic. The people in these countries took pride in their city and who they are as a community. The architecture and landscape of Barcelona, Avignon, Monaco, and Nice were absolutely stunning. When ordering at a restaurant, if your meal was not what you expected, it is taken back to the kitchen with no snarky look or sour attitude. It was clear that everyone I came across wanted me to fully experience Spain and France for what it was, not the stereotypes you hear.
A huge lesson I learned while traveling abroad is to not take the little things in life for granted. I did not realize how much joy I would have seeing a man sell his paintings on a cobblestone street, or how a chocolate croissant, fruit, and a cappuccino is the most refreshing breakfast I ever had. Being able to sit on the rocks of the Mediterranean watching the sunset with friends old and new is a boost of serotonin everyone needs. Going to school in a small town, there is not much to do. I appreciate where I am in life, the opportunities I’ve been given, and the lessons I have learned from traveling abroad. I met new people, made new friends, and grew in my relationships with teammates, friends, and coach!
Thank you, Limestone, for this amazing opportunity. I am forever grateful for the memories I made in such short time.