A study abroad attitude for summer

winkle, kateSummer is a time rife with possibilities. Three long months of freedom from the school year yawn before us, beckoning for us to do something besides watch reality TV.

Even if a summer job or a few classes interrupt the blissful orb of summer, there are always those moments of apparent “nothing to do:” that poisonously incurable boredom and lack of direction.

The antidote? Adventure.

My short time in Europe taught me that traveling is the best way to learn and to find adventure. Although grand journeys to faraway places guarantee new experiences, adventure doesn’t have to include long travel by plane, train, car and/or bus.

Sometimes forging a new path along small side streets is just as exciting as seeing famous sites.

There is so much incentive when one is abroad to visit the famous cities: London, Paris, Rome, Barcelona, Amsterdam. The list goes on indefinitely, and although it is physically impossible to visit them all for a sufficient time in four months, the incentive of being generally in the area means a lot of traveling.

There is a breadth and a depth to traveling. Weekends during the semester found me in different areas of Spain or, once, London.  Each destination has an over abundant wealth to offer, not only famous or historical sites, but cultural experiences, both of which create the natural ambiance of a place.

Traveling during and after the semester made me realize — three days may be enough to see the majority of the famous sites in Rome, but for really knowing the city, that amount of time is insufficient.

Although I’ve been to many places, I only know most at a surface level, including my own home.

I experienced the cultures of 13 cities of Spain, but can only say I truly know one area in the country, Alcalá de Henares, where I spent most of my time living and studying. Even then, I haven’t unlocked all the secrets of my four-month long home.

The lifestyle of studying abroad is vastly different from studying in our good old U.S.A.  When abroad, there is a sense of time running out and a need to use every spare moment to see all there is to see and soak it all in. When living semi-permanently at a university for about four years, students take the area for granted. Four years is not long at all, and before one realizes he or she will be zipping away to a new place.

During the school year, I hardly ever journey out of my Fort Collins bubble. Colorado may not have a centuries-old Alhambra to visit, but it has its own history that I doubt even lifelong residents have fully unearthed. It is time to take advantage of the fact that there are places within the state where we live that we haven’t seen or explored. We don’t need to be in Europe to travel and see new places and learn new information. We just need time and will. The time is now. Summer waits.

Even those who have just lived in Fort Collins their whole lives haven’t sucked the marrow out of the town. Those who claim they know everything and have done everything have a stunted sense of adventure. Explore side streets and the nearby wilderness. Talk to someone new. Try a new restaurant for lunch instead of an old favorite. Become an expert instead of a transient resident, try everything and know for certain what is good and worthwhile.

It’s time to fill summer’s sinkholes of boredom with exploration.

Kate Winkle is a sophomore journalism major. Her columns appear every other Friday in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.