I was lucky to participate in the University of Louisville's study abroad trip to Portugal. The course we took overseas taught us of the impact of ecology on politics and life in different regions of the country. This trip proved to be an invaluable learning experience for multiple reasons. This was my first trip to Europe, something that would have been impossible without the incredibly manageable cost! Overseas I experienced the excitement and nervousness that comes from being in an unknown place with only a small grasp of the language-something many in our country deal with daily. While in Portugal, I created friendships with U of L students as well as the Portuguese university students; the students in Miranda welcomed all of us into their community with kindness and encouraged us to become a part of their social world while we were there. Of the many wonderful memories I still hold from this trip include touring gorgeous vineyards in the Douro Valley, sailing down the Douro river and watching the towns on the banks pass by, walking through the busy plaza in Salmanca, Spain, visiting the 'other' side of the Atlantic ocean in Lisbon, meeting various students from all around the in world in the dorms and hostels we stayed in, and having many wonderful conversations in broken Portuguese and English with lots of hand and facial gestures that usually resulted in appreciative smiles and laughter.
This trip enhanced not only my college experience but my life beyond college. It taught me the importance of traveling in order to gain a better understanding of how the world works and what my role in that world is.