The sheer side of a jagged cliff loomed above me as I peered through a mess of ropes to check out my next move. Nervously, I adjusted my safety harness and scrutinized the ledge poking from the side of the cavern. How in the world am I supposed to get there? There's nothing but a huge gap!
I braced myself for the challenge and swung my left foot across the gap and up to the rock ledge above. The instructor reached for my hand, and soon, I was perched at the top of the cliff. "Wow!" I gushed as I took in the breathtaking view of the lush English countryside.
This climbing adventure was just one of the many incredible experiences I had while living and studying overseas for 15 weeks. During my freshman year, I'd heard all about my college's study abroad program. It wasn't long before I knew I wanted overseas travel to be a part of my college plans. So during my junior year, I packed my bags for a European adventure.
As I gallivanted about the British Isles and other European destinations, I'd stepped out of the traditional classroom and into history's living classroom. I was no longer merely reading about distant places in history textbooks or travel guidebooks. I was there.
The horrors of World War II became real as I walked through the ruins of Germany's Dachau, once a Nazi concentration camp. In Italy, Michelangelo's David towered over me as I recalled the history of the masterpiece. And after surviving so many weeks of Shakespeare class, I was thrilled to see the birthplace of the author who'd caused me so much agony!
At the end of the semester, I came home with four stuffed suitcases, 18 rolls of used film, and handfuls of priceless memories. Yeah, the photos may fade, and my Oxford sweatshirt may shrink, but the lessons I learned that semester will always be with me.
For 15 weeks, the world had become my classroom. And I'd been stretched, squeezed, and challenged beyond what I could have imagined.
Christy is getting ready for her next greatest adventure—college graduation this spring!