The World Can Set You Free by Katie

Hi! My name is Katie. I am a junior at the University of Dayton, majoring in Marketing and International Business and I have been an intern for Empowered & Poised this summer. I have always had a passion for adventures. Ever since I was a little girl I have loved to explore and find the beauty in the world. Traveling is one of the ways I do that.

This past spring, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Salamanca, Spain. It was a life changing experience and a time that I will always wish I could go back to. The semester was filled with endless opportunities that helped me enjoy the little moments in life. The time I spent in Spain, all the new people I met, and all of the places I went were incredible. 


When I was planning to study abroad, it was the first time I felt like I knew 100% that I had to do it. I felt like I was completely making the decision for myself and doing it because I wanted to. I traveled alone and I think this is important to be able to do. I always feel rejuvenated after having time alone to reflect and relax by myself. I have found that being comfortable being alone is important. Knowing how to be observant, solve problems, and survey your surroundings is very important when traveling alone.


A few months later, I decided to take a solo trip for three nights. Going on a solo trip was something I said I would do before I left for Europe. I went to San Sebastian, Spain which is located in the North of Spain in Basque Country. I took a 7.5 hour bus ride and arrived in the evening. Trying to appreciate the moment I’m in is important to me so taking in the gorgeous lush valleys and mountains and noticing the people and scenery around me is something I’m always working on. There are small things that I noticed people do that made me smile: the teenage girl across from me caring for her younger sister, the woman waving goodbye to the man she was leaving behind, the farmers passing by working hard to care for their families. 

When I first arrived to my hostel, I felt funny checking in, walking around the city, and getting meals alone. As the days continued this feeling quickly wore away. I laid on the beach and read, walked for hours along the beaches and coastlines, and found beautiful monuments to check out. Throughout the trip I focused on enjoying my surroundings just like on the bus ride there. One day, I stopped at a restaurant at the top of the hill and sat at a table that overlooked the water. Most days had been slightly overcast but just as I was sitting down a storm started to come. In hopes of beating the storm I started running back to my hostel and on the way it got so windy that the flowy pants I had been wearing almost blew down. I was slightly embarrassed but also stunned that it was so windy my pants were blowing everywhere. I made eye contact with a Spanish lady that was walking past me trying to beat the storm as well. We both laughed as she saw my pants almost blow off me too. It’s moments like those that I appreciate: being able to laugh and share a moment with a friendly stranger, no matter how different our lives may be. Life can be so beautiful. By the end of the trip I was so sad to leave the quaint city that I had enjoyed so much. 


My experiences have led me to who I’ve become today. I feel like I am constantly changing, and I am proud of who I’m becoming. I’ve learned to be assertive and speak up when something isn’t right. Exploring new areas makes me fall in love with earth’s beauty and appreciate all the little things life has to offer. Learning to appreciate different cultures and immersing yourself in them is so important. Living 3,822 miles from home and creating a new opportunity for myself is something I am proud of doing. Being able to learn from different adversities that I faced and making the most out of the opportunity is what I think makes me Empowered & Poised. I encourage everyone to push themselves to travel because there is so much growth and many positive benefits that come from it.

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