By Jenna Lou | April 15, 2013
Most people think of sun and sand and loud music, am I right?
Well as a graduate student, a good portion of my Spring break was spent stressing out about the large assignments piling up as we near the end of the semester. But before I hunkered down in my little nook in the library during the minimal hours they were open over break, I did something uncharacteristic… I took a vacation from both of my jobs, withdrew what little cash I had in my account and bought some megabus tickets to NYC.
Now this may not seem like a big deal to many. Actually, many of you probably live in NYC. But I am a country girl. I never got a chance to study abroad or travel. I graduated high school with 31 other students, most of which I knew from preschool, and I’m used to raccoons getting in my house instead of fearing break-ins. That being said… Buffalo is a big city for me. I’ve lived in the Buffalo area for the past 5 years and still haven’t seen a good portion of it.
So, taking a megabus alone to NY was abnormal for me. And I have to say – though it was one of the more anxiety-provoking decisions of my life as I don’t travel at all, it was one of the most therapeutic decisions I’ve made in quite some time. This semester (and last semester) in the Counseling program has been all about putting myself out there, meeting new people, and intentionally making myself uncomfortable with the hopes of learning something about myself and growing personally and professionally. Even if these new people aren’t in the mental health field – networking is important and connecting with people is therapeutic in and of itself.
While wandering The City That Never Sleeps, I learned that I can hold my own in conversations with professionals about culture, ancient and modern art (as I stayed with “Art Nerds of New York” for 5 days), business and education, and of course the many facets of mental health and relationships. Considering my general anxiety and more-than-occasional social awkwardness, this was nice to reflect on during that 9 hour bus ride back to Buffalo – that there really is no need to worry as much as I do about how others perceive me because I’ve got things under control – and when I don’t know what I’m talking about, I can at least be proud of how well I maintained composure through this venture.
I genuinely feel as though I’ve grown as a person. I feel more independent and confident even after this mini trip which I’ve heard is similar to the experiences of students that have traveled abroad.
And that’s better than any cliché souvenir t-shirt or shotglass from street vendors!
(If I accomplished practically nothing academic over Spring Break :cough cough: oops :cough cough: at least I have that :) )
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