My Reality Beyond a Base
Alexis Jones is a senior at Spelman College.
As a child of a military soldier I encountered a lot of challenges my civilian counterparts will never experience. However, I was granted the opportunity and the privilege to appreciate the value of traveling at an early age. Unfortunately, my father did not receive pcs (permanent change of station) out of the country. Thus, my understanding of the world was not unique prior to traveling abroad. However, due to my “military brat” experience my understanding of the United States was wide-ranging. Having attended ten different schools, and moving every 3-4 years from the age of 6, I experienced the empowerment traveling reveals. My military brat experience planted the seed for my desire to live beyond the regions of the United States. I learned so much from traveling domestically; therefore I knew traveling abroad would unravel the beauty of a world unfamiliar and stimulate positive personal growth.
Due to my frequent mobility growing up, once I decided to study abroad for a semester I was confident my transition into another country would be easy. WRONG. Although military families move regularly, there is usually the comfort of your family, other military families, and the military base with American features. Thus, it creates a sense of comfort and familiar security. The ability to “adapt to change” and “being flexible” was a trait I often associated with my upbringing, but I truly developed these characters while studying abroad. I genuinely had to learn how to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. When I first arrived to Denmark, I really did not enjoy my experience. Every single day I complained. I was blessed to be in an amazing program, assigned wonderful Danish host parents, and an awesome roommate. Yet, everyday I complained. Whether I was complaining about the extremely cold weather or the very homogenous white society, I said something negative daily. I made up my mind that I was missing all the “fun” at school that semester. I was fixated on keeping up with everything going back on at home and school. Each morning I spent a ridiculous amount of time on social media. Every opportunity I found Wi-Fi I was trying to keep up with every post and status update. Midway through my abroad experience, I decided to delete my social media applications. In addition, I made a conscious effort to change my attitude. Studying abroad is truly what you make it. It’s one thing to travel on a plane to an unfamiliar country, but its absolutely daring, fearless, courageous, adventurous and brave to immerse yourself in a new experience and culture! If you do not grow in some type of way from traveling abroad, you did it wrong.