There are events in each persons life which make them feel more mature. In the past two years the most significant of those events have been my trips to South Korea and Egypt. I've been thinking about this a lot because almost exactly a year ago today I left for South Korea. I had traveled without my family before but only in a controlled environment where at least I knew the language or some people I could go to in an emergency. Yesterday I talked to a friend of mine from the trip to South Korea and we talked about how we had changed. She thought I looked different and acted different and I realized almost immediately how different she acted from a year ago as well.
A year does a lot to change a person and I feel that in the past year I have grown and matured immensely. The problem is that looking back to South Korea, I feel that I was a little kid. I don't know why I feel this way because I had traveled more than most of the other students on the trip and I was one of the older students but compared to now, I was very young and immature. This feeling may be compounded by my brothers trip to South Korea this summer as well. When I think of him going there I think about how he will act and automatically think that that is how i acted as well. My brothers aren't young or extremely immature in my eyes, how can they be when they tower over me like they do? But I still know that I have more experiences under my belt than either of them, but thats also beginning to change. Jonah just came back from two weeks in Italy, is making friends faster than I did when I was there, and is living with a family he has known for only a few months. I can't say that I did that as a 15 year old. Tobias is going to South Korea at an age two years younger than I was when I went. The things he will see are probably the same things that I saw and will have the same effect on him only two years sooner.
Before my trip to Egypt, the trip to South Korea was the single greatest time when I came back home and realized how much I had grown and matured. I hope Tobias will have the same realization. People always tell me to travel while I can because its harder to do when you grow up, well I have one more year before college which seems like the beginning of the end of my traveling experiences. I know that I will study abroad in college but in all likelihood it will be someplace I have already been. My last real chance to travel and mature comes in a little over a month when I go to Germany for the year. I'm going to be working as an Au Pair from mid September to sometime in the spring when I hope to travel around Europe and then head back to America and prepare for college.
Taking a year off crossed my mind a lot throughout high school, my sister had done it and I knew other people who were doing it. When I got to my senior year I pretty much decided that I was ready for college and that I couldn't take a year in between. After powering through IB tests, being rejected by my top schools, talking to college students, family, and teachers, taking a year off seems like the best thing that could happen to me.
Coming back from Egypt I feel more mature than many 18 year olds I know. I feel this way partly because of the the things I have seen but also because my friends on the trip told me every day how much more mature I was than college students they knew and especially other people my age. Im glad that people see me this way because I pride myself in my character. I don't understand however why I'm "mature for my age". Why aren't more 18 year olds as "mature" as me? And if they are why dont they show it or why dont people see it. As I write this i feel very egotistical and immature as I commend myself but I dont know how else to bring it up and make the point I am trying to make. You may also be asking "what is the point you are trying to make?" and the answer is "I don't know exactly but its something like this...."
This fall I will be reapplying to schools from a foreign country and maybe even to schools in that country or countries around it. I will be living in the country with a family I have never met in person and hopefully being a part time student there. I will be travelling some and seeing my family there and my old friends hopefully. I know that come June, when I come back these experiences will make me even more mature. More importantly though, I'm thankful for my regular opportunity to travel and I try my best not to take it for granted. Hopefully a summer and fall of traveling, blogging, living, and experiencing will help me through the application process of college. I've done it before and i did a horrible job last time, I missed deadlines, ignored recommendations, and was generally laid back about it. Having gone through it already and having a whole year to grow and live will hopefully make it go more smoothly by increasing my focus. I realize now the importance of it which seemed to slip my mind last year. Thankfully I have this opportunity to take a year off and collect my thoughts and finally return and begin college. I haven't gone through it yet, but I already suggest it to all high schoolers and graduates. Lets see if my opinion is the same in June....