I Travel, Therefore I Am

Meet Sam, our latest addition to the Storyteller team! Currently studying aboard in Paris, we’re super excited to have her join us!

I’ve always been a traveler. When I was young, I traveled through books. My library card was my best friend. I would devour an entire novel in a single afternoon, always anxious to visit a new location within the pages. I used to get in trouble for reading under the covers with a flashlight. What can I say? I was a rebel child. I do love reading for the sake of reading, but more than that, I enjoy how books transport the mind to another place and give a new perspective.

My travels evolved from paper and ink to road trips and plane rides. During my junior year of high school, the Art Department sponsored a ten-day excursion to Europe. I spent an entire school year babysitting, raking leaves, and doing chores to fund the trip.  When spring break finally arrived, I packed my suitcase (a huge teal monster that I unfortunately still use today) and flew to Frankfurt, Germany to meet my new friend, jetlag. I’m ashamed to admit that I slept through half of Berlin. My eyelids just wouldn’t cooperate. But by the time we made it to Dresden, Germany on day three, I was starting to get the hang of things. I toured Prague, Krakow, and Budapest fully awake and present. It was my first brush with international travel and I was hooked. I knew then that travel would be an essential part of my career and my life. On this trip, I promised myself I would spend at least one semester of college overseas. I believe that traveling is about more than just visiting new locations. Although it definitely doesn’t hurt to take in the amazing beauty that this world has to offer, I believe the true value of travel is in the way that it effects our perceptions, ideas, and ultimately our actions.

I was always told I should become a lawyer. Like most teenagers, I was constantly debating with my parents, talking my way in and out of trouble. I love conversation and communication in general. While some people express themselves through art and music, I usually rely on my words. Languages really are the most fundamental form of self-expression. That idea may seem simple but it does explain why I’ve chosen to make languages the focus of my studies. In grade school I studied German, Latin, and even some Greek. I began taking French classes during high school, and now in college, I’m a Foreign Languages and Literature major at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. During my first semester at UA, my English 101 professor shared with me her reason for teaching English. She believes that most problems in the world stem from a lack of ability to communicate effectively. By helping students to express themselves coherently, she hopes to make an impact for the betterment of society. Her words resonated in my mind, and continue to do so today. I had already known that I loved languages for a reason, but her idea provided a direction, a purpose. I want to study cultures and the way people interact and communicate. Language learning is not just about becoming proficient at writing and speaking the language. It’s about how we can use language and conversation to solve the issues and problems that we face today as a global society.

I’ve sat with these ideas for a while and so when I discovered Student Language Exchange, I knew I had to get involved. I am truly glad to be joining SLE’s team of Storytellers. As a French major and Italian and Business minor, I’m often faced with the question, “So what do you plan to do with that?” I believe I’m finally starting to form an answer.

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