Sam Ross – 2018 Pre-Freshman Program in Calgary, Canada and AU Summer Abroad in San Jose, Costa Rica
Traveling abroad wasn’t appealing to a homebody like myself when I began my degree here at Auburn 3 years ago; I hadn’t thought of even pursuing it until my friend sent me a program brochure for a pre-freshman program to Canada in the Summer of 2018. As it turned out, two of my best friends and I were able to travel abroad to Calgary and Banff for a week that summer, and it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. At the end of the program, I couldn’t believe how fast the week flew by. In only a week I rode on horseback through Banff National Park, witnessed how American Calgary really is at the famous Calgary Stampede, hiked through forests, all while learning about how sustainability plays a major role in that area. Combined with traveling and seeing all the incredible vistas in Canada, I never had time to feel homesick. It really opened me up to traveling and trying to go out of my comfort zone by to experience the world.
My next opportunity to study abroad came less than a year later when I was trying to finish the coursework for my Spanish minor. I wanted to finish the coursework as soon as I could so I could focus more on my major in my sophomore year, and, in order to do that, I would have to take 12 credit hours of Spanish over the summer. I talked with my high school Spanish professor who teaches Spanish at Auburn University about it, and he said he was leading a study abroad program centered around Spanish that summer! It was one of the most memorable and exciting months of my life, and the experience reminded me just how lucky I am to have had the opportunity. Not only for the academic perks, but also for the snorkeling, hiking, traveling, and meeting so many great people.
After I got home from the program in Costa Rica, I had to adjust back my old normal. I was surprised just how accustomed I became with my life in San Jose, and I started to appreciate my time abroad a lot more. In Auburn, there are no language barriers for the most part. I can find exactly what I’m looking for in most stores, and everything is how I’m used to it being. But I appreciate just how diverse and variable my experiences were in Costa Rica. Despite having a good handle on the Spanish language from the classes I took at Auburn and in high school, it didn’t always carry over to the in-person interactions at a store in Costa Rica. But that’s what made the trip so exciting, the unpredictability was really enjoyable.
Looking back on my abroad experiences over the last few years, I became a lot more open to meeting new people and experiencing new things, and I developed a deeper appreciation for not only Canada and Costa Rica, but also for the United States. If you’re ever are lucky enough to have the opportunity to study abroad, take it! It’s a great way to become a better version of you.