Why I'm Ditching My Study Abroad Program to Drive Across the Country

Like many incoming freshmen who lived with their parents for 18 years, college meant freedom. Depending on the student, the idea of college freedom can look different, but for me, it was the chance of studying abroad. For two years, I worked with advisors and teachers to make my dream of studying abroad possible. After many recommendation letters and scholarship applications, I got accepted into my dream program for the summer of 2020. However, like the rest of the year 2020, this did not go as planned. 

Now luckily, I am a Junior and could reapply for next summer, but who even knows where we will be allowed in the world a year from now. While I don't want to miss out on my "college freedom" to travel, I also don't want to rely on a study abroad program that could be canceled a month before departure. So my best friend and I recently decided to scratch our study abroad plans and take a road trip from the east coast to the west coast, hitting as many national parks possible. 

Although many people have been shocked by our willingness to pack up our lives and drive across the country for a month, to us, it has felt more rewarding. Sitting down, mapping out the route, planning excursions, and setting a budget is more flexible than any study abroad program. It wasn't until we started researching different areas in the Midwest that I realized I didn't need to cross any oceans to see something spectacular. Perhaps everything I need to get that abroad experience is within the country I call home; I just need to explore it. 

If you're in a similar situation, let go, be thankful, and start driving.