I had just spent 6 years in universities earning my Master’s degree in nutrition, completing a demanding dietetic internship, studying and (thank God!) passing my certification exam to become a Registered Dietitian. My whole life prior had been dedicated to getting that “MS, RD” after my name. When I finally reached my goal, I took a mental step back. Now what? Do I apply for jobs and jump into “adult life”? I felt like I was missing something. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love nutrition and know that is what I want to do, but I also know there is much more to life than work.
I didn’t know what to expect from Malta and this experience, but because of the people I met, it now means more to me than I ever would have thought...
I had always wanted to study or go abroad during college, and now that I had that opportunity, I felt I needed to go. Mind made up, I spent the summer working to save money and spending hours each day researching travel abroad options and programs. I was focusing on the Mediterranean and hoping to find something related to my passion of nutrition to make the most out of my experience. GeoVisions was a standout, and they offered a 3-month internship program in Malta where the internship placement could be matched to your interests. Sold.
Fast-forward to my departure and I remember talking to a friend on the way to the airport. She asked if I felt ready for my trip. I thought and smiled and responded, “No, I don’t think I ever really would be, but I think that is the point”. This trip was both scary and exciting, a challenge to learn and grow that I could not wait to begin.
I could talk for hours about Malta, the incredible landscapes, never ending postcard scenes, the food and coffee, the old streets, the architecture, the hundreds of ornate churches. But more than the things I saw, it was the interactions with others, culture felt, relationships formed, and experiences shared that made the biggest impact on me. It truly was the people. When thinking ahead to an adventure like this, the physical locations and landmarks usually provide the greatest basis for expectations, not necessarily the people we will meet and come to know.
In the end though, it is all about the people, the time shared, views exchanged, and lessons learned with them.
Some of my best memories are simple experiences shared with others. Like talking and joking around the kitchen table with my roommates from Bulgaria, Amsterdam, and the U.S. after a day at our internship sites. Or when I would go to a coffee shop each morning and order my usual with a simple smile because the staff got to know me. Or just looking forward to seeing friends I made at my internship site each day. And I have to say I really believe my overall amazing experience was in no small part due to the fact that I chose to travel alone.
Being on your own in a new place, especially one across the world, can be intimidating to say the least. But it is in this way that we grow the most. You are free to choose where and when you want to travel, learn about yourself in new ways, and ultimately are forced in the best possible direction to evolve to an even better version of yourself.